The second day of the Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale saw a significant uptick at the top of the market, with the top prices for both broodmares and newly-turned yearlings eclipsing Monday's opening session.
At the close of business on Tuesday, a total of 233 horses sold for $17,288,800, down 6 percent from last year's second-day gross of $18,341,600 from 253 sold. The average sale price of $74,201 marked a 2 percent improvement from last year's return of $72,496, while the median rose 14 percent to $40,000 from $35,000.
Tuesday's buyback rate finished at 23 percent compared with 18 percent during last year's comparable session.
The gross and average sale prices will have a hard time keeping pace with last year's Keeneland January sale after Abel Tasman spiked the figures with her record-tying $5-million hammer price. However, the fact that the median has remained consistent with last year through the two sessions of Book 1 was considered a victory for Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland's director of sales operations, showing off the wide-based quality of the catalog.
“The first book, we thought, was a very solid book of horses, a typical January catalog without a major dispersal,” Russell said. “The quality was even and good, so I was very happy with that.”
The top offering of the day – and of the sale through Book 1 – was the Grade 1-placed broodmare prospect Enaya Alrabb, who sold to James Schenck, agent, for $640,000.
The 4-year-old Uncle Mo filly shares a second dam with 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, joining at the Cure the Blues mare Kim's Blues. Enaya Alrabb is out of the Grade 2-placed stakes-winning Rhythm mare Lotta Rhythm, who is herself a half-sister to Lotta Kim, a Grade 2-placed runner and dam of Rachel Alexandra. This also puts Rachel Alexandra's Grade 1-winning daughter Rachel's Valentina on the session-topper's page.
“That was on the top end (pricewise) but she was lovely, she didn't turn a hair and she was a great racehorse,” said Pat Costello of consignor Paramount Sales. “We were delighted, the owners are delighted. If you bring the goods here, you get well paid, maybe even better paid than you thought. But if you fall below the barrier, it's tough getting it done.”
Enaya Alrabb broke her maiden as a juvenile, then earned a runner-up finish in the G1 Starlet Stakes. She came back at age three to finish second in the G2 Starlet Stakes.
Glen Hill Farm Makes A Splash With Mares
The debut of Glen Hill Farm as a consignor at a Kentucky sale didn't start quite as planned, but it ended on an exceedingly positive note, with the Florida-based operation handling two of Tuesday's three most expensive offerings.
“Our first horse, we bought back for $4,500 and we got her done for $4,500,” said Glen Hill Farm's Craig Bernick. “The people who were working for me were looking at me to make sure we knew what we were doing. Thankfully, we had some better ones to come.”
The farm has historically handled its own horses at sales in its native Florida, but put their horses selling further north in the hands of others.
The day's second-highest price came from Hip 595, Confidently, a half-sister to champion and top sire Uncle Mo who sold to James Schenck, agent, for $560,000.
The 4-year-old War Front filly will be retired from racing, per Schenck, following an on-track career where Confidently won one of nine starts and earned $31,427. She raced for Glen Hill Farm, which also consigned her at the Keeneland January sale.
“We thought about breeding her and maybe selling her in November, but when I'm buying a horse myself, a lot of times, I like to pick out the stallions,” said Glen Hill Farm's Craig Bernick. “I figured Coolmore could buy her, maybe she could go to Japan. I thought whoever bought her could send her to the stallion they wanted, and when you get to November, you have to make sure they like the covering sire. She made basically what we thought. It was good.”
Confidently is out of the stakes-placed Arch mare Playa Maya, whose seven foals to race are all winners. Uncle Mo is the obvious standout among the group, but Confidently is a full-sister to Could It Be Love, who ran second in the Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas. Giving some hope for a future broodmare career, Playa Maya is also the dam of the winning Silver Deputy mare Grosse Pointe Anne, who is a stakes producer.
This was the second time that Confidently has turned heads in the auction ring. Bred in Kentucky by the Playa Maya Syndicate, Confidently hammered for $1.25 million at the 2016 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale, but the price was under her reserve.
Also lighting up the board from the Glen Hill consignment was Hip 795E, Inflamed, the dam of Eclipse Award finalist Mo Forza, who sold to Japan's Shadai Farm for $525,000.
The 10-year-old daughter of Unusual Heat was offered in-foal to Tapiture. Mo Forza was her first foal after she went unplaced during her racing career.
“Of course, I liked her page,” said Naohiro Hosoda of Shadai Corporation, who signed on behalf of Teruya Yoshida. “Mo Forza is a turf horse, and in Japanese racing, turf is the main track. She's a proven mare. She's still young, 10 years old, and Unusual Heat is California's leading sire. His progeny is very active on fast ground and we have the same – fast ground racing – so that's key.”
Hosoda said Inflamed would be sent to Japan to continue her broodmare career, with her mating plans to be determined later.
It was a quick and lucrative turnaround for the Glen Hill operation, which purchased Inflamed for $170,000 at last year's Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale. That transaction came just days after Mo Forza won his first graded stakes race, the Grade 2 Twilight Derby.
After Glen Hill bought the mare, Mo Forza catapulted into Eclipse Award contention with wins in the G1 Hollywood Derby and G2 Mathis Brothers Mile Stakes. Inflamed was included in the Keeneland January catalog as a late supplemental entry.
“Mo Forza was on the page, but I just expected her to make more money in November (when he purchased her),” Bernick said. “Mo Forza won the Hollywood Derby then followed it up with another win and he looks like he's on a good track. It's hard to find a 10-year-old mare in January that is a Grade 1 producer.”
First-Crop Mastery Filly, Half To Nereid, Brings $365,000
The top of the market also saw a rising tide on the newly-turned yearling side, led by Hip 623, a filly from the first crop of Mastery who sold to Andre Lynch, agent, for $365,000.
The dark bay or brown filly is out of the winning Dowry mare Belong to Me, whose five winners from six runners includes Grade 1 winner Nereid and Grade 1-placed stakes winner Sea Queen. Nereid is herself the dam of Grade 3-placed stakes winner Figarella's Queen.
Lynch declined to name his client, but said she would be kept to race.
Bred in Kentucky by the Neuman Group, the filly was consigned by Damian and Braxton Lynch's Royal Oak Farm, agent.
“On a short yearling that's a huge price,” Braxton Lynch said. “It's a $25,000 stud fee. Obviously the Masterys are very popular, but she just showed herself so well. She just kept coming out of her stall and doing her walk, and really it was all her. These are the easy ones to sell.
“She was an athlete, a pure athlete,” Lynch continued. “I think that's why people went so strong on her. You just don't come across horses that move that well that often.”
Eaton Sales closed Tuesday's session as the day's leading consignor by gross, with 15 horses sold for $1,829,000. James Schenck was the day's top buyer, with two purchases totaling $1.2 million.
With two sessions in the books, a total of 464 horses changed hands for $32,167,100, down 20 percent from the same point the previous year. The average was down 16 percent at $69,326, and the median was unchanged at $37,000. The buyback rate of 24 percent was a slight jump from 22 percent at the same point in the sale in 2019.
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