Brisk business at Keeneland sale

LEXINGTON, KY (Sept. 14, 2012) – Active trade from a diverse buying bench and the sale of seven yearlings for $1 million or more drove strong results during opening week of Keeneland’s premier September Yearling Sale, held September 10-13.

Through four sessions of the 11-day sale, 655 yearlings have been sold for $132,853,000, for an average of $202,829 and a median of $150,000.

Last year opening week comprised five sessions (including two select sessions in 2011 versus one in 2012) when 753 horses were sold for $145,216,500, for an average of $192,851 and a median of $150,000.

This year’s four-day cumulative average is up 5.17 percent over 2011’s five-day opening week figure, while the median remains unchanged. The cumulative gross is down 8.5 percent over last year, largely due to having one fewer session in week one of 2012.

Seven yearlings brought $1 million or more during the first week compared to six in 2011.

“We’ve seen steady increases in results for the past several years as the market continues to rebuild after the global financial crisis,” said Keeneland Vice President of Sales Walt Robertson. “It continues to show consistency and stability in all aspects, and that’s driving a very positive energy around the sales grounds.”

Sales officials credit the increases to competition for quality yearlings among a deep contingent of domestic and international buyers. Both groups are actively participating, as evidenced by the fact that the leading buyer list as well as the purchasers of the top 10 horses to date are fairly equally dispersed between U.S. and foreign buyers.

“Despite the diminished participation of last year’s two leading buyers, we’ve had other buyers step up and fill the void,” Robertson said. “It’s a resilient business, and I’m very happy with the way it’s going.”

Active during the sale’s first week were such high-profile owners and longtime Keeneland clients as Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum’s Shadwell Estate Company; Live Oak Plantation’s Charlotte Weber; Fox Hill Farm’s Rick Porter; Qatar’s Prince Fahad Al Thani and his bloodstock advisor, David Redvers; John and Jerry Amerman; and Ben Glass, representing owners Gary and Mary West.

Top operations such as B. Wayne Hughes’ Spendthrift Farm, Kenny Troutt’s WinStar Farm and Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Farm were prominent as both consignors and buyers.

Two notable owners absent in recent years from the sales scene – Prince Khaled Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms and Shortleaf Stable’s John Ed Anthony – made purchases at this year’s September Sale.

Many of the nation’s leading trainers, including Bob Baffert, Todd Pletcher, Nick Zito, Dale Romans, Jerry Hollendorfer and John Sadler, were out in force at Keeneland in search of the next generation’s superstars. A number of leading two-year-old consignors were also busy restocking for the 2013 juvenile sales.

Seven different groups of Japanese buyers, taking advantage of the strength of the yen to the American dollar, were active at the top of the market, spending a total of $7.525 million for 14 yearlings. K.K. Eishindo ranked as opening week’s fourth-leading buyer, purchasing 10 yearlings for $3,260,000. Shigeyuki Okada, owner of Japan’s Big Red Farm, bought Thursday’s highest-priced horse, paying $1.1 million for an Empire Maker colt.

“When Rogers Beasley and Vin Cox visited Japan last spring, they came away very confident that there would be a strong representation of buyers here in September,” said Director of Sales Geoffrey Russell. “The Japanese are enjoying great racing success with Keeneland sales graduates, and the strength of the yen to the dollar makes U.S. horses a good value.”

Shadwell Estate Company purchased 17 yearlings for $8,250,000, highlighted by the sale-topping Distorted Humor colt for $1.65 million, to be the opening week’s leading buyer.

Taylor Made Sales Agency ranked as leading consignor, selling 66 yearlings for $14,847,000.

Following a break on Friday, the 11-day sale resumes Saturday, September 15 and runs through Friday, September 21. Sessions begin at 10 a.m. ET daily and are streamed live at