11/20/2015 4:16PM

Weanlings the strength of November market

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Both the Keeneland November breeding stock sale and the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky selected fall mixed sale showed strength in the weanling market, with improved average prices and competitive action at the top that bodes well for upcoming years.

“The top end of the weanling market, I think they were one-of-a-kind offerings and once-in-a-lifetime offerings,” Keeneland director of sales Geoffrey Russell said. “But overall the weanling market – if you take out those ‘super-weanlings’ – the overall market, I thought, was very strong all through. I think it’s a combination of pinhookers and end-users meeting. For several years, the pinhookers have been driving this market, and last year and this year we’ve seen some end-users come in and buy. And it’s added competition for these horses.”

The Keeneland November sale featured a remarkable six seven-figure weanlings, including for the second consecutive year a North American record-priced weanling. It was a filly by popular young commercial sire War Front and out of Broodmare of the Year Take Charge Lady, purchased for $3.2 million by Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm. The filly was consigned by Eaton Sales, as agent.

“She has a good amount of leg for a War Front, and nothing seems to bother her,” Pope said of the filly. “She is very well minded.”

Take Charge Lady, a multiple Grade 1-winning daughter of Dehere, is the dam of champion Will Take Charge, as well as fellow Grade 1 winner Take Charge Indy. She is also the second dam of champion Take Charge Brandi.

The War Front filly’s price broke the North American weanling record established at the 2014 Keeneland November sale, when a Tapit filly, a half-sister to multiple Grade 1 winner Honor Code, sold for $3 million to Bridlewood Farm. The Tapit filly’s half-brother, also by War Front, sold for $2.6 million to Coolmore’s M.V. Magnier at this year’s edition of the sale.

Keeneland November’s top three weanlings – Pope’s filly, Coolmore’s colt, and a $2 million filly out of Grade 1 winner Awesome Maria purchased by Willis Horton – were all by War Front, who stands at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky. They ranked as the auction’s most expensive, fourth-most-expensive (in a tie), and ninth-most-expensive weanlings of all time. Joining them this year in the seven-figure club were a $1.3 million Tapit filly who is a half-sister to Grade 1 winners Hoppertunity and Executiveprivilege, purchased by J.J. Crupi’s New Castle; a $1.2 million Galileo filly who is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Bodemeister, purchased by Hunter Valley Farm; and a $1.1 million Tapit filly out of multiple Grade 1 winner Marketing Mix, purchased by Shadwell.

John G. Sikura, whose Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales, as agent, consigned three of the seven-figure weanlings, said, “I think the weanling market – like the rest of the segments of the market – at the very top, if you fit all the criteria, got a great physical, et cetera, it’s very good. And if not, there’s a gap.

“We try to really hand-pick and bring only premier horses here that we believe are really bulletproof in the marketplace, not only because of the pedigree but with a great physical and the way they vet, et cetera.”

Led by the seven-figure sextet, 108 weanlings were sold during Keeneland November’s opening Book 1 portion for gross receipts of $31,978,000, compared with 99 sold for $21,165,000 during the same portion of the sale last year. The average price, $296,093, and median, $162,500, were gains of 38 and 8 percent, respectively, from $213,788 and $150,000 in 2014.

“We anticipated that we had crackerjack foals [in this catalog],” Russell said. “We were very confident that at the end of the day the market would react very favorably toward the foals, and then it beat our expectations.”

The Fasig-Tipton November sale, despite having figures down across the board overall, also saw improvement in its weanling market. At this year’s sale, 35 weanlings sold for $4,401,000, compared to 39 for $4,341,000 in 2014. The average price was $125,743, a 13 percent jump from $111,308 last year.

For the second year in a row, Fasig-Tipton used a catalog format where weanlings were offered consecutively at the beginning of the evening, rather than interspersed throughout the sale in alphabetical order by their dams’ names.

“The buyers seem to really like [that format],” Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning said. “That way they can focus on certain segments of the catalog. Whether you’re a weanling buyer or looking to buy mares, it just gives them a better focus. It worked well last year, so we decided to do it again this year.”

The top price was $600,000 for a Tapit colt out of Grade 1 winner Aubby K, purchased by Mill Valley Racing.

It was the second year in a row that Gainesway’s Tapit, North America’s reigning leading sire, was represented by the top weanling at Fasig-Tipton. Last year, he led the way with a $500,000 colt.