Keeneland sales signal continued surge in market

LEXINGTON, KY (Sept. 13, 2013) – Results from the opening week of Keeneland’s 2013 September Yearling Sale, the world’s premier yearling auction, signaled a continued resurgence of the Thoroughbred market, evidenced by brisk trade among a deeply diverse buying bench and 18 horses selling for $1 million or more. Strong performance was driven in part by changes to the sale’s format, which assembled a critical mass of top-quality yearlings and the world’s major buyers during week 1 to produce a level of trade not seen in the five years since the global financial crisis.

Through the four elite Book 1 sessions, held Sept. 9-12, 546 yearlings were sold for $153,385,000, for an average of $280,925 and a median of $207,500.

This year’s opening week totals realized significant gains over 2012. Cumulative gross rose 15.4 percent, average is up 38.5 percent, and median increased 38.3 percent.

The 18 yearlings sold for $1 million or more is the most since 2008, equaling the 18 seven-figure horses sold then.

“Mission accomplished,” said Keeneland Director of Sales Geoffrey Russell. “Our goal with the format change was to get as many high-quality yearlings and as many buyers on the grounds as possible. It worked; week 1 was a great success. Our consignors did an extraordinary job. They brought us the cream of the North American foal crop.”

Keeneland reformatted the September Sale this year to reflect three distinct market segments – week 1, the weekend, and week 2. This year, Book 1 spanned the entire opening week, Monday through Thursday, rather than a single day as in 2012. Opening-week sessions began at noon.

The new design enhanced the sale in a number of ways: it gathered a broad cross section of yearlings at all levels of the market, it allowed buyers more time to inspect a variety of horses, and it aided consignors in marketing their horses to their fullest potential.

“The format change has been well received by consignors and buyers alike,” said Vice President of Sales Walt Robertson. “The barn area has never been busier, and the tremendous activity at the barns is carrying over to the horses in Book 2. Consignors tell us they have been overwhelmed with buyer interest today. We see this excitement continuing throughout the remainder of the sale.”

Buyers from across North America and all parts of the world converged at Keeneland beginning Friday, Sept. 6. Domestic buyers flexed their spending power at the highest levels, accounting for a majority of the seven-figure purchases. Of the week’s two top-priced yearlings, one went to a foreign interest, M.V. Magnier of the Irish-based Coolmore Stud, who paid $2.5 million for a colt by leading sire War Front, while American buyer Mandy Pope took home a filly out of multiple Grade 1 stakes winner Take Charge Lady for $2.2 million.

“There was a hugely diverse group of buyers participating this week – foreign, domestic, new buyers, familiar faces, prominent pinhookers, and end-users,” Russell said. “You name the criteria of the buyer, and they were here. And buyers elevated their game; the quality of the yearlings and the strength of the market demanded they do so, and they stepped up.”

Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Shadwell Estate Company Ltd. purchased 25 yearlings for $11,300,000 to rank as the opening week’s leading buyer.

Taylor Made Sales Agency, as agent, sold 68 yearlings for $18,390,000 to be the leading consignor.

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