01/11/2011 6:24PM

Shadai Farm adds Secret Gypsy for $540,000 on Day 2 at Keeneland sale

Keeneland/Coady Photography
Japan’s Shadai Farm paid $540,000 for Secret Gypsy on Tuesday at the Keeneland January sale.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Japan’s Shadai Farm, purchaser of Monday’s $1.4 million session-topper Ave, returned to Keeneland’s January all-ages sale Tuesday and picked up another expensive young broodmare prospect. Shadai went to $540,000 for 6-year-old broodmare prospect Secret Gypsy, a multiple graded winner by Sea of Secrets. Shadai advisor Naohiro Hosoda said the mare would retire to Shadai owner Teruya Yoshida’s broodmare band.

Consigned by the Eaton Sales agency, Secret Gypsy was the second session’s highest price.

Tuesday’s session returned to earth, a day after Monday’s opener rang up large gains in gross and average, but cumulatively the first two sessions were running ahead of last year’s. On Tuesday, Keeneland sold 205 horses for $8,912,600, down 22 percent from last year’s one-day total for 228 horses, and the average price of $43,476 was off by 13 percent. Buybacks were up slightly, from last year’s 22 percent to 24 percent.

But thanks to Monday’s sparkling figures, the 2011 auction’s first two sessions together remained on the upswing, with a 9 percent gain in gross and a 13 percent increase in average. Together, the two days sold 392 horses for $19,600,200, resulting in an average of $50,001. The median - both for Tuesday’s session and cumulatively - was $20,000, on a par with last year’s. Cumulative buybacks increased, rising from 26 percent to 30 percent.

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Monday’s opening session saw gross and average rise by 62 percent and 54 percent, respectively, thanks to big prices for young Grade 1 winners Ave, Wickedly Perfect, and Negligee. Ave topped the session, and probably the sale, when she sold to Shadai. Wickedly Perfect brought $800,000 from Katsumi Yoshida’s Northern Farm for the session’s second-highest price, and Negligee sold to an anonymous client of Hunter Valley Farm, agent, for $625,000 for the third-highest price of the day.

Three Chimneys Farm, agent, sold two of those three broodmare prospects: Ave and Wickedly Perfect. The Hill ’n’ Dale Sales agency consigned Negligee.

Monday’s session sold 187 horses for $10,687,600, yielding an average price of $57,153, and a $20,000 median.

The massive gains in gross and average were aided by a larger catalog than last year, when 178 horses sold on opening day, as well as a higher-priced session-topper ($1.4 million as opposed to 2010’s sale-topping $1.085 million for Miss Isella), and the influx of the three pricey Grade 1 winners.

More importantly, the $20,000 median was exactly level with last year, a sign that the market is showing stability, as breeders and consignors had hoped.

Still, buyers remained highly selective, often making selling an all-or-nothing proposition, and the buyback rate rose from last year’s 30 percent to 35 percent.

“When a mare walks through the ring that’s got enough interest, I think the market is at least as good as it’s been,” said Walt Robertson, Keeneland’s new vice president of sales. “Like everybody else, I’m worried about the horses below that bar. It’s not any easier.”

Monday marked Robertson’s first day on the job with Keeneland after 35 years at rival auction house Fasig-Tipton. “I’m just learning,” Robertson said. “It’s a great organization, and it was kind of fun to start off on a good day.”
Tuesday’s session lacked Monday’s Grade 1 gunpowder and was generally quieter.

“It’s certainly good if you’ve got the right article, but it’s very tough if you have something people just don’t want,” said Lincoln Collins of the Kern Lillingston bloodstock agency, which bought stakes-winning broodmare Princess Janie for $330,000 on behalf of an anonymous English client that Collins said is interested in breeding sprinters to race. The Four Star Sales agency consigned Princess Janie in foal to Tiznow. The 7-year-old Elusive Quality mare is out of the Dayjur mare Petite Princess and is a half-sister to Grade 3 winner Raylene.

“People just don’t want a horse to have a horse,” Collins said. “They want something that’s got some quality and some potential. Other people’s cast-offs aren’t finding any buyers.”

But buyers found plenty of competition for standout horses, particularly yearlings.

Tuesday’s second highest-priced mare was $405,000 for racing or broodmare prospect Alpha Kitten. Spendthrift Farm bought the 5-year-old Grade 2 winner from the Paramount Sales agency. The mare last went through the auction ring just two months ago, when agent Ben McElroy paid $150,000 for her at Fasig-Tipton’s November mixed sale.

The highest price for a yearling was the $300,000 that Brian Graves paid for the Warrendale agency’s chestnut Candy Ride colt out of Gentlemen’s Crown.

Graves is counting on the summer and fall yearling sales to remain stable, and on upper-level buyers’ continued willingness to pay a premium for an especially attractive horse. Graves stretched his budget for the colt and intends to prepare him for resale at a select yearling auction later this year. The colt’s dam, Gentlemen’s Crown, is a half-sister to Candy Ride’s son Chocolate Candy, making the $300,000 colt closely related to that graded winner and Grade 1-placed runner.

“He’s good and square behind and a real leggy horse,” said Graves, adding that he thought the horse had the look of a two-turn runner. “His mother’s a half-sister to a good Candy Ride, and it’s already worked in the pedigree. He’s the type of horse that I truly believe has a chance to bring half a million or more [at select yearling sales].

“I was prepared for two and a quarter or two-fifty. I was walking away at $275,000, and I went back one more time.”

Graves outbid former WinStar principal Bill Casner.

“Those are the right kind of people to beat, the end-users,” Graves said. “Hopefully there will be more like him when we bring him back [to sell later in the year].”

The January sale was to continue through Jan. 14 with sessions starting daily at 10 a.m.