09/25/2010 7:41AM

Momentum continues during Friday session

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Keeneland sale continued to show tepid signs of reinvigoration during the 12th session of the 14-day bellwether sale on Friday, one day after gross receipts surpassed the entire total sales figure from the similarly sized sale last year.

Overall on Friday, Keeneland sold 278 horses for gross receipts of $3,155,000, with an average of $11,349 and median of $8,000. Last year during the 12th session, held on a Saturday, Keeneland sold 235 horses for $2,587,200, with an average of $11,009 and median of $5,500. The 2009 numbers were down 36.2 percent and 40 percent compared to the figures from the comparable session at the 2008 sale.

On Thursday, total sales surpassed the total from last year, when the bloodstock market went through a significant contraction that put breeders and sellers on edge. Though the market is still showing troubling signs of weakness, and though the market is well below its pre-bubble peak, Keeneland officials applauded the milestone on Friday.

“It’s certainly very gratifying,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales, on Friday afternoon. “We’re starting to see a bit of a turnaround in the market.”

Last year, gross receipts, average, and median all plummeted compared to 2008 because of the uncertainty created by the recession and a pullback by banks in extending credit to horse buyers. This year, through the first 12 sessions, average has been $73,651, an increase of 7.9 percent over the average last year of $68,249 though the first 12 sessions, and median has been $32,000, a 6.6 percent increase over the median of $30,000 last year. Gross receipts through the first dozen sessions has been $196,039,100, whereas gross last year was $191,859,200, with a larger catalog.

Russell said that the depth of the number of buyers at the sale, along with the significant uptick in the median price, demonstrated that buyers were especially more active this year at the bottom and middle of the market. Russell noted that credit remains tight for many buyers, as banks continue to restrict the amount of money they will make available for investments in horses after several high-profile bankruptcies over the past two years.

“There’s still a lack of credit out there, and we remain a sport that depends on discretionary income,” Russell said. “So what we’re seeing is that people are spending the cash they have in their pockets. If anything, what we are seeing right now is a true market.”

Prices during the Thursday session remained relatively strong, with 294 horses sold for a gross of $4,212,100, average of $14,327, and median of $9,000. Last year for the 11th session, average was $10,224 and median was $7,000.

During the selling on Friday, top price for the session was $110,000, for a filly by English Channel out of the Linamix mare Miarixa. Fleetwood Bloodstock bought the filly out of the consignment of Bluegrass Thoroughbred Services, as agent. Selling continues through Sunday.