11/12/2017 7:59PM

Strong demand during Book 3 of Keeneland November sale


The Keeneland November breeding stock sale, a nearly two-week marathon that tests the market by offering a wide variety of horses, reached its midway point Sunday with mixed results. While overall, the average sale price is trending downward, the median is up, and the buyback rate is improved – and the marketplace is displaying a healthy middle market, as evidenced by improved figures in the Book 3 portion that took place over the weekend.

Through the sale's first six sessions, comprising its first three books, 1,172 horses had been sold for gross receipts of $174,295,500. Through the same number of sessions and books in 2016 renewal, 1,154 horses had changed hands for $179,956,200, meaning the gross is down 3 percent this year.

The average sale price, $148,716, is down 5 percent from $155,941 at this point last year. The median, $80,000, is up 7 percent from $75,000. The buyback rate is 26 percent, improved from 31 percent at the midway point last year.

The Saturday and Sunday sessions comprised Book 3 and finished with 512 horses sold for $30,198,500, up 25 percent from $24,122,700 for 459 sold in Book 3 last year. The average sale price of $55,981 was up 12 percent from $52,555. A demand for young stock by young sires helped fuel Book 3, which had improved figures in both its sessions and closed strong Sunday, with the session-to-session gross soaring 47 percent and the average and median spiking 29 percent and 31 percent.

The most expensive mare and weanling of Book 3 were both sold Saturday. Grade 3-placed stakes winner Storm the Hill sold for $275,000 to Lynn and Rovena Alexander’s Alastar Thoroughbreds, which plans to continue racing her. A filly from the first crop of Lea sold to noted bloodstock agent Mike Ryan for $230,000 to lead that day's youngsters.

Led by those two, eight horses sold for $200,000 or more in Book 3, trailing the 13 to do so last year, and none approaching that renewal's top price of $550,000. Despite the lower price points, bloodstock agent Chris Brothers described the bidding action as "extremely competitive" after he signed for the $260,000 broodmare Aqua Regia to lead Sunday's session.

"Good stock, anything worth anything good, is just a fight," Brothers said. "You're going 20, 30 percent over what you would have liked to have spent."

Brothers signed for Aqua Regia in the name of Xavier International Bloodstock on behalf of an undisclosed client. The winning Pollard's Vision mare, who finished third in the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks, was sold in foal to Dialed In.

"She's a beautiful mare from a good family in foal to the right stallion," Brothers said. "It was a little bit more than I would have liked to have spent, but I think she was worth it. The quality here keeps rising to the top."

Consigned as agent by Trackside Farm, Aqua Regia is from the family of Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner and sire Is It True and Grade 1 winner Singing Susan.

A group of first-crop weanling sires who were accomplished on the racetrack continued to make noise with their first foals, as a Carpe Diem colt sold for $200,000 to become the most expensive weanling of Sunday's session. Katie Taylor, a daughter of Taylor Made's Frank Taylor, signed the sale ticket for the colt on behalf of Bloodstock Investments, a pinhooking group. The colt was consigned by Taylor Made Sales as agent.

"He's correct, [but] I see a lot of room for improvement," Katie Taylor said. "I really like Carpe Diem. They've all had a really racy look to them. They're really well balanced. I like a horse with a real 3-D sort of shoulder and a thin neck that comes out, and I think he seems to throw that on a lot of them."

The New York-bred colt is out of the winning Latent Heat mare Hot Spa, who is a half-sister to graded stakes winner Mendip and stakes winner Dig Deep. Hot Spa's great-granddam is Peruvian champion La Chaposa, who produced Grade 1 winners Chaposa Springs and You And I.

Taylor also described the bidding as competitive, particularly in her sector as a pinhook buyer. Off a strong yearling sale season, three weanlings sold for $200,000 or more in Book 3, one more than last year.

“There are a good portion of these weanlings that have [sold well],” Taylor said. “It’s tough. I'm really happy with what we have, but yesterday we were the underbidder on nine horses."

Led by Lea and Carpe Diem’s session toppers, 15 weanlings from the first or second crops of their sires sold for six figures in Book 3. The versatile Lea, a Grade 1 winner on dirt and a Grade 3 winner on turf, stands at Claiborne Farm alongside sire First Samurai. Dual Grade 1 winner Carpe Diem, who stands at WinStar Farm, is by Giant's Causeway, who also is the sire of First Samurai. Lea averaged $115,278 from eight weanlings sold in Book 3; Carpe Diem averaged $114,167 from six sold.

The sale continues through Saturday.

For hip-by-hip results, click here.

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