09/21/2012 2:55PM

Keeneland September sale finishes with 14 percent gain in average


LEXINGTON, Ky. – Keeneland’s 11-day September yearling sale ended Friday with strong gains in average and median which should give sellers some confidence that the yearling market is on better footing than a year ago.

Average ended 14 percent higher than last year’s figure, $87,354 versus $76,511. This year’s $45,000 median was 50 percent higher than last season’s $30,000 and equaled the 2006 sale record. The auction had a smaller overall catalog this year, reflecting the decline in North American foal crop size. The number cataloged fell by 17 percent, from last year’s 4,319 to 3,604. Keeneland also reformatted the sale, most notably trimming the traditional two-session select portion to a single daytime session.

The drop in numbers might have affected gross sales, but not severely. Gross sales fell 2 percent, from $223,487,800 for 2,921 horses at last year’s 13-day sale to $219,781,500 for 2,516 horses in 2012.

Buybacks also fell, from 21 percent in 2011 to 19 percent.

The sale-topper, a Distorted Humor colt out of Grade 1 winner Mushka auctioned at the Sept. 10 select session, sold for $1.65 million to Sheikh Hamdan al-Maktoum’s Shadwell Estate Co. Eaton Sales, agent, consigned the bay colt on behalf of Betty Moran’s Brushwood Stable. The colt was one of seven yearlings to bring $1 million or more this year, up from six last year, when $1.4 million Powerful, an A.P. Indy-Malka colt, topped the sale.

Shadwell bought 17 yearlings for $8,250,000 as the auction’s leading buyer. But his brother Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum of Darley Stud, previously one of this sale’s biggest spenders, bought just four horses this year for a total of $895,000. The top 15 buyers’ rankings were dominated by U.S. concerns and agents. Agents Ben Glass and Steven Young, Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stables, and Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Plantation were among the most prolific buyers, and the American partnership of John Sikura and Bruce Lunsford picked up the auction’s most expensive filly, a $1.3 million Smart Strike-Untouched Talent filly from Audley Farm (Brookdale, agent). But international participants like Coolmore Stud (10 yearlings totaling $4,945,000), K.K. Eishindo (10 for $3,260,000), and Raut LLC (37 for $2,262,000) also made a mark.

The Taylor Made Sales agency led all sellers with 242 sales totaling $23,752,000.

Tapit was the sale’s top sire by gross after 44 yearlings brought a combined $11,577,000, but by average (three or more sold), A.P. Indy was the headliner. Nine yearlings from the pensioned sire’s last crop averaged $466,111.

The 2012 auction’s gains were particularly noteworthy, considering that last year’s sale had featured two major dispersals: the estates of Edward P. “Ned” Evans and Saud bin Khaled, which accounted for about $7.5 million of last year’s total revenue.