11/15/2009 12:00AM

Reality returns at Saturday session


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Saturday's fifth session at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale showed a diverse group of domestic and overseas buyers, but without any more Overbrook Farm horses on offer, the session gross could not sustain its run of gains.

The Overbrook dispersal boosted the aggregate on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, even in a time of general declines in the Thoroughbred market. But that dispersal ended Friday, and with that the session gross returned to earth Saturday.

Saturday's session sold 258 horses for $10,837,000, down 15 percent from last year's session total for 230 horses. The average price of $42,004 was 24 percent lower than at last year's equivalent session, and the $32,000 median was down by 29 percent. But buybacks also decreased from last year's 31 percent to 19 percent, indicating that sellers had widely accepted the downturn and were prepared to let their stock go.

Cumulatively, the two-week auction's first five days have sold 1,049 horses for $129,721,200, a decrease of 10 percent from last year's aggregate for 954 horses. This year's cumulative five-day average of $123,662 was 18 percent lower than last year's figure at the same point, and the $70,000 median was off by 11 percent. But, again, buybacks improved significantly, falling from 33 percent in 2008 to 20 percent.

Saturday's session-topper was a $265,000 weanling Tiznow colt that A Delaware Corp., purchased from the Bluewater sales agency. The colt is out of Storm Front, an unraced 8-year-old A. P. Indy mare. Her dark bay or brown Tiznow colt is a half-brother to the winner Zipper Zapper.

On Friday, the session-topper was the $400,000 broodmare Dancing Shoes, in foal to Unbridled's Song. Horse France made the purchase from Glencrest Farm, which consigned the 9-year-old Danehill mare through the Four Star Sales agency.

The Friday session posted a third consecutive day of gains in gross and a slight rise in average, but median slumped. The buyback rate for the session dropped substantially, from 35 percent last year to 19 percent.

"There is a sense of realism at this sale," Keeneland's director of sales, Geoffrey Russell, said after Thursday's session. "It is much more consistent. There is a lot more American participation and a number of different people buying horses. Those are good and healthy signs."

The sale was to continue through Nov. 22, with sessions starting daily at 10 a.m.