keeneland january hip 692
keeneland january hip 692

Sale-topper 15-year-old mare Ponche de Leona (Ponche) / Keeneland (p)


6 - 9 January 2013

The 2014 Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale didn’t have the firepower of last year’s event, but, boosted by competitive bidding at the lower and middle levels of the market, concluded its four-day stand yesterday in Lexington with solid results. A total of 1,027 horses sold for $41,025,700 over four sessions, compared to the 1,105 horses that sold for $45,207,300 over five sessions in 2013. The resulting average was $39,947, down 2.36%. The median of $20,000 was up 33.3%. The buyback rate was 19.6%; it was 25.2% a year ago.

“The sale has continued on from what we saw happening in September and November,” said Keeneland Director of Sales Geoffrey Russell. “There was healthy bidding and a lot of interest from start to finish. We’re very happy.” 

The dam of last fall’s GI Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man (Macho Uno), the 15-year-old Ponche de Leona (Ponche), topped the sale at $775,000. Betty Moran’s Brushwood Stable purchased the mare, in foal to Distorted Humor, during Tuesday’s second session. Blake-Albina Thoroughbred Services consigned her as hip 692.

A Kitten’s Joy half-brother to Stakes Winner Ha Ha Tonka (Distorted Humor) from Gata Bella (Storm Cat) was January’s top-priced short yearling. David Ingordo signed for the colt, hip 192, at $235,000.

The 2014 January Sale was a different animal to the 2013 renewal, which was boosted by the dispersals of Barbara Hunter’s Brownswood Farm and of Issam Fares’s Fares Farm. The Fares dispersal alone saw 78 horses gross over $7.3 million, including the $800,000 Supreme (Empire Maker), and boasted 29 six-figure horses. Hunter’s horses included the $1 million Keertana (Johar) and the $950,000 Snow Top Mountain (Najran). Nor did 2014 have any off-the-track stars like Nereid (Rock Hard Ten), the Grade I winner who made $1.3 million in 2013 - the top price for a mare.

The difference at the top of the market when comparing the two sales is striking. In 2013, 24 horses brought $300,000 or more, grossing $13,660,000 between them. In 2014, only eight eclipsed that mark, grossing $4,035,000.

All that to say what everyone knows: the January Sale can vary greatly from year to year. But the numbers show that, with the average off just 2.36% and with a huge improvement in the median, that there was vastly improved strength at the lower and middle portions of the market.

“Our recovery has shown strength in all levels of the market - the top, middle and second-week horses - and that bodes very well for us as an industry,” said Russell.

Bloodstock agent Chad Schumer, the sale’s leading buyer by number or horses purchased (33 for $705,000), said simply, “It’s a strong market again, and that’s great. But that’s not a surprise; after November, we had a clearer picture of where things were headed.”

Schumer added, “Most of the time, when we didn’t get something, we weren’t the underbidder; we were way off. But we bought plenty, and we’ve been busy. The first day, I was surprised we bought so many. I usually have a hard time in Book 1, and I don’t know if it was the weather - I heard some people got stuck in Chicago - but I was able to get 13 the first day.”

Russell concluded the market has, for the moment at least, found a good equilibrium between buyers and sellers, and between supply and demand.

“We’ve had solid returns for the past three years now, and we’re on a good footing,” he said. “Breeders are getting a good return on their investment, and stud fees have been held to a reasonable level. That turns into a fair-priced product for buyers.”

Extracts from Thoroughbred Daily News