Home » Market confidence drives significant gains at Keeneland January Sale

Market confidence drives significant gains at Keeneland January Sale

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 12, 2012) – The 2012 January Horses of All Ages Sale closed Thursday with a 50-percent increase in total sales, becoming the third consecutive Keeneland auction to achieve double-digit growth in gross, average and median, and concluding a strong sale season which saw renewed confidence in the Thoroughbred market.

Gross receipts for the four-day sale, held January 9-12, rose 50.4 percent as1,003 horses sold for $37,991,900 compared to last year’s five-day sale when 1,021 horses brought $25,250,350. Keeneland surpassed 2011 January Sale totals on only the second day of selling, Tuesday, Jan. 10.

Cumulatively, average price of $37,878 increased 53.1 percent from $24,731 in 2011, while the median of $15,000 was up 100 percent from last year’s $7,500.

Thirty-seven horses sold in January for $200,000 or more compared to only 16 last year.

The strong sale results are yet another positive sign that the Thoroughbred breeding industry is rebounding from the anticipated market correction in 2008, brought about by the overproduction of commercial horses and exacerbated by the global financial crisis. Today, fewer horses are being bred for commercial sale, enabling Keeneland to tighten recent sales, thereby enhancing their overall quality.

“The momentum that began to build during last fall’s September Yearling and November Breeding Stock sales rolled into January, and that’s a very healthy sign,” said Keeneland Vice President of Sales Walt Robertson. “The years since the 2008 crisis resulted in an ‘economic cabin fever,’ if you will. Now there’s a growing optimism, particularly among domestic buyers, that they have weathered the storm and are ready to get back in the game.”

Keeneland’s strategic initiative to build and sustain relationships with horsemen in traditional and emerging markets remains a key factor in its success. The participation of a globally deep buying bench at all levels of the market was in evidence in January, once again led by Japan’s prominent Yoshida family, who purchased three of the sale’s highest-priced horses.

North American horsemen also flexed their buying muscle at recent sales, dominating the leading buyer rankings and purchasing 24 of the 30 horses sold for $1 million or more since September. Brad Kelley’s Bluegrass Hall topped the January leading buyer list, purchasing 31 horses for $1,977,000.

“Professional breeders have realized ‘ultimately, this is our business,’ and in order to breed and sell horses they have to have stock,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales. “There’s less risk in the horse business than there is in the stock market, so they are putting their money into what they know. They are in it for the long haul.”

Another indicator of the strength of the January Sale is the 27.8 decrease in the cumulative buyback rate, which fell to 19.7 percent.

“Overproduction has been curbed, and supply is falling in line with demand,” Russell said. “The two major dispersals we’ve had since 2008 – Overbrook Farm and Spring Hill Farm – gave the industry a comfort level in evaluating horses. Consignors are setting reasonable reserves and buyers feel they are getting a fair price.”

Grade 1 producing broodmares commanded the January Sale’s top two prices.

Northern Farm’s Katsumi Yoshida paid $1.4 million for Topliner, dam of 2011 Matriarch (G1) and Senorita (G3) winner Star Billing, sold in foal to leading sire Medaglia d’Oro. Consigned by Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency, agent, Topliner is a 10-year-old daughter of Thunder Gulch and a half-sister to multiple Grade 1 stakes winners Stellar Jayne and Starrer.

Adrian Regan and Fergus Galvin of Hunter Valley Farm, on behalf of an undisclosed client, went to $775,000 to acquire Grade 2 stakes winner Spice Island, in foal to leading sire Tapit. Spice Island is the dam of Ice Box, winner of the 2010 Florida Derby (G1) and second in the Kentucky Derby (G1). Spice Island was consigned by Bluewater Sales, agent.


Quality short yearlings also were highly prized in January as many weanling-to-yearling pinhookers sought to fill orders left open given the November Sale’s competitive market.

A half-brother by Unbridled’s Song to 2011 Humana Distaff (G1) and Princess Rooney Handicap (G1) winner and Eclipse Award finalist Sassy Image sold to Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farm for $490,000 to be the sale’s top-priced yearling. He was consigned by Havens Bloodstock Agency, agent.

Taylor Made Sales Agency topped the January Sale consignor list for the 11th time in 12 years, selling 96 horses for $4,264,700.

On Thursday, Keeneland sold 253 horses for $3,620,700, up 92.9 percent from a year ago when 230 horses brought $1,876,500. The day’s average of $14,311 increased 75.4 percent from $8,159 in 2011, while the median rose 102.3 percent from $4,200 to $8,500.

Two broodmares brought $90,000 each to top the final session. La Defense, dam of stakes winner Quelle Surprise and in foal to Munnings, was purchased by McMahon and Hill LLC. Consigned by Mr. and Mrs. Jody Huckabay’s Elm Tree Farm, agent, the mare is a half-sister to Modesty Handicap (G3) winner Noisette. Diamond G Ranch bought Rendezvouz Point, an 11-year-old daughter of Kingmambo, sold in foal to Discreet Cat. Consigned by Mill Ridge Sales, agent, the mare is a half-sister to multiple graded stakes winner Five Star Day.

“We can only achieve such success with the outstanding support of our consignors and buyers,” said Robertson. “We want to wish them all best of luck throughout the upcoming breeding season.”

Keeneland’s next auction, the 2012 April Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale, will be held Monday, April 9. The April Sale preview show will be held Thursday, April 5.