It just proves there is money here every day for the top horses.
— Geoffrey Russell / Keeneland Director of Sales

8 - 21 September 2014

The Keeneland September Yearling Sale concluded its 13-day stand in Lexington Sunday with figures holding largely steady with last year’s powerful renewal of the auction. It was a very successful sale, Keeneland’s Director of Sales Geoffrey Russell summed up at the close of business Sunday afternoon. “We have had two Septembers that have had very large increases, so now we’ve had a good, stable market. And a solid market is where the industry needs to be at this stage”.

Of the 4,181 yearlings catalogued for the 13 day sale, 3,606 were offered and 2,819 sold for a gross of $279,960,500. That figure was off slightly from last year’s 12-day sale when 2,744 yearlings grossed $280,491,300. The average fell 2.8% to $99,312 and the median was unchanged at $50,000. The buy-back rate was 21.8%, compared to 19.9% a year ago.

The 2013 average was up 17% from 2012 and the $102,220 figure was the sales highest since 2006 and the third-highest in September sale history. The median was up 11.1%. With the last two years being up so dramatically, it wouldn’t be healthy in some regards for the market to go up by the same percentages again, Russell said. “We were looking for some stability and we got it.” Trade in the upper-middle market proved strong. With 113 fewer horses catalogued in Book 1 this year, 13 yearlings sold for $1 million or more, including two for the sale-topping price $2.2 million, compared to 18 last year. During Book 1 and Book 2, 121 yearlings brought $400,000 or more each, versus 105 sold in that price to the final day, with a pair of youngsters topping the $100,000 mark Sunday. The top price during last year’s final session was $65,000.

“It just proves there is money here every day for the top horses”, Russell said. “My overall view of the sale was that there was strong, competitive bidding from Day 1 to Day 13. I think the sale was very impressive in that regard. The 13 sessions of the September sale attracted an international mix of buyers. In addition to the U.S., Europe and Dubai, buyers from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Japan, Korea, Russia, and Central and South America were active at the sale.

“We had very strong international participation, which is something we strive for here,” Russell confirmed. “Keeneland promotes the Thoroughbred industry 52 weeks a year to buyers in nearly every state and all four corners of the world. It’s a global strategy we’ve employed for many years to build and sustain relationships with horsemen. It’s very gratifying to see those efforts translate into huge crowds.”

The sales leading buyer was Darley bloodstock advisor John Ferguson, who bought 22 yearlings for $7.88 million. The second-leading buyer was Ben Glass, agent for Gary and Mary West, who purchased 29 horses for $7,805,000. Lane’s End was the sales leading consignor with 211 yearlings sold for $28,581,700. The sales leader board was dominated by progeny of leading sires War Front and Tapit and each stallion was represented by a co-topping $2.2-million yearling.

Overall, Russell said the September results were a positive for the entire industry and marked its continued rebound from the 2008 recession. “I think it is what the industry needed now”, Russell said. “My famous line is, the farther away we get from 2008, the better it is for everybody. We are another year away from it and we had two very good years behind us. Now we are maintaining that and I think that is good for the industry. It doesn’t have any inflationary aspect to it, which would then be passed on to higher production costs. So hopefully for the whole industry it is a very positive thing” Russell concluded.

Leading Sires by Gross

Stallion Sold Average ($) Gross
TAPIT 36 603,472 21,725,000
UNBRIDLED'S SONG 45 234,000 10,530,000*
BERNARDINI 26 348,346 9,057,000
MALIBU MOON 38 229,000 8,702,000
HARLAN'S HOLIDAY 45 175,311 7,889,000
WAR FRONT 16 491,375 7,862,000