Brisk sales at Keeneland, colt brings 1.55 million

LEXINGTON, KY – Brisk business drove across-the-board gains during the third session of Keeneland’s September Yearling Sale, which was boosted by the sale of a Bernardini colt for $1.55 million, the second-highest-priced yearling to date in the auction.

Keeneland sold 196 horses on Wednesday for $34,573,000, a 5.34 percent increase from a year ago when 215 yearlings brought $32,819,500. The session average of $176,393 was up 15.55 percent from $152,649 in 2011, while the median rose 11.54 percent from $130,000 to $145,000.

“It was a good horse sale; it was fun at the top,” said Keeneland Vice President of Sales Walt Robertson.

The RNA, or buy-back, rate for the session was 26.59 compared to 23.49 last year.

“It is a very tight market,” said Director of Sales Geoffrey Russell. “Consignors are doing an excellent job of trying to appraise their horses. But (the RNA rate) is within an acceptable range.”

Through three days, a total of 457 horses have been sold for $97,103,000, for an average of $212,479 and a median of $150,000. Last year through four sessions (includes two select sessions in 2011 versus one in 2012), 544 horses were sold for $111,176,000, for an average of $204,368 and a median of $170,000.

Irish bloodstock agent Demi O’Byrne purchased the day’s two top-priced yearlings – the Bernardini colt and a colt by Big Brown for $825,000.

The sale-topping Bernardini colt was bought on behalf of the Coolmore partnership of John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor. Out of the Carson City mare Wilshewed, the colt is a half-brother to Grade 1 stakes winner Stormello and My Best Brother, who recorded wins in the Del Mar Derby (G2) and Oceanside Stakes and a second in the La Jolla Handicap (G2) during the recent Del Mar meeting.

O’Byrne said it has not been decided whether the Bernardini colt will race in the United States or be sent to Europe.