Keeneland concludes September Yearling Sale

Lexington, KY (September 23, 2008) – In the midst of national economic difficulty, Keeneland on Tuesday concluded it’s fourth-highest grossing September Yearling Sale ever, with sales totaling nearly $328 million.

Cumulatively, the 15-day sale totaled $327,999,100, down 14.8 percent from last year’s $385,018,600. Average price of $90,984 dipped 10.2 percent from $101,347 reported in 2007. The median of $37,000 was down 11.9 percent from last year’s $42,000. A total of 3,605 yearlings were sold compared to 3,799 a year ago.

Eighteen yearlings sold for $1 million or more, including the sale-topping A.P. Indy filly out of Chimichurri, which brought a final bid of $3.1 million from John Ferguson, on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum. The filly was consigned by Gainesway, agent for Jess Jackson’s Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC.

“To have the fourth-largest gross in September Sale history is a testament to the drawing power of this sale,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales. “There was a diverse group of buyers, both foreign and domestic, in attendance throughout the two weeks. We saw especially strong representation from countries whose economies are doing well and whose business we have actively cultivated, such as the Russian republics, Latin America and Scandinavia.

“We are very pleased that the sale was steady and solid; a reflection of our consignors’ ability to adapt to this market.”

Russell noted several factors – a weak economy, the cyclical nature of our business, the negative publicity our industry has received lately, and an oversupply of horses – which contributed to the downtown.

“The Thoroughbred industry tends to run in cycles, and if you look at the statistics, 2003 was a rebound year,” he explained. “The downturn was expected to occur last year, but sales were buoyed by the favorable exchange rate that spurred foreign spending.

“On the positive side, a reduction in prices should encourage those on the sidelines to become involved in the industry,” he said. “Right now it’s a challenge to woo new domestic investors in light of the negative publicity racing has experienced these past few months. And the Welfare and Safety Committee should be commended for its work to improve racing’s image. But all of us associated with breeding and sales must take responsibility to encourage newcomers to participate in the sport.”

Russell continued to cite the oversupply of horses as a critical issue for the industry.

“It’s a question of profitability for breeders, some of whom suffered a painful reality check during this sale,” he added. “There are still too many non-commercial horses being offered. This market adjustment will have a positive effect in the reduction of production costs.”

Fillies accounted for the September Sale’s top three prices, led by the aforementioned A.P. Indy filly, purchased by John Ferguson for $3.1 million. Ferguson, also on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed, paid $1.7 million for a half-sister by Unbridled’s Song to champion sprinter and freshman sire Speightstown, consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent for Aaron and Marie Jones.

Ferguson was the sale’s leading buyer, purchasing 27 yearlings for $18,185,000. For the fifth consecutive year, Taylor Made Sales Agency ranked as the leading sale consignor, selling 374 yearlings for $48,929,900.

Jon Kelly went to $1.7 million for a filly by Empire Maker out of stakes winner Aurora, by Danzig. The filly, consigned by Middlebrook Farm, agent, is a half-sister to stakes winner and sire Arch, and UAE Horse of the Year Festival of Light.

Rick Nichols, vice president and general manager of Sheikh Hamden bin Rashid al Maktoum’s Shadwell Estate Company Ltd., signed the ticket for the sale’s highest-priced colt, paying $1.5 million for a son of A.P. Indy out of the Halo mare Taegu. The colt, consigned by Mt. Brilliant Farm LLC, is a half-brother to Grade 2 Schuylerville Stakes winner Classic Elegance.

On Tuesday, Keeneland sold 149 horses for $1,135,600, down 26.8 percent from a year ago when 172 horses brought $1,551,500. The day’s average of $7,621 was down 15.5 percent from $9,020 in 2007, while the median dipped 13 percent to $5,000 from $5,750 last year.

A colt by Chapel Royal brought the highest price on Tuesday, selling for $50,000 to Diamond G Ranch Inc. Consigned by Eaton Sales, agent for Overbrook Farm, the colt is out of the Deputy Minister mare McConnell Springs and a half-sister to stakes-placed Talullah Lula.

“We want to thank all of our consignors for their hard work, and wish all of our buyers the best of racing luck,” Russell said.

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