Two million-dollar yearling colts topped the opening-night session of the Keeneland September yearling sale in Lexington Ky., on Sunday night. The sale, which begins with two select sessions on Sunday and Monday and runs through Sept. 24, is the most important bloodstock auction for North American Thoroughbred breeders because of its size and breadth across all price spectrums. Economic indicators on the opening night were largely positive, with gross revenues, average and median price all moving in an upward direction, but buy-backs were at a troubling 32.3%, representing a much higher percentage of yearlings that did not find new homes in comparison to the opening session in 2010.
For the night, Keeneland listed 67 yearlings sold for $25,260,000, an average price of $377,015 and median of $350,000. Those numbers compare favorably with the opening night last year, when 69 yearlings brought $23,965,000, an average price of $347,319 and median of $250,000. The gross was up by 5.4%, average climbed by 8.6% and median soared by 40.0%. Last year's buy-back rate the first night was 25.8%.
The top-priced offering of the night was Hip 87, a $1.4-million colt by Horse of the Year and leading sire A.P. Indy, who stood his entire career at Lane's End Farm in Versailles, Ky., before being pensioned earlier this year at the age of 22. The yearling is out of the Deputy Minister mare, Malka, who raced in partnership for breeder John Sikura, whose Hill 'n' Dale Sales Agency consigned the colt as agent. Malka's dam, Get Lucky, by Mr. Prospector, was a member of the Phipps family's broodmare band and produced three stakes winners plus the dams of Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver and Haskell Invitational winner Bluegrass Cat. A partnership that includes Robert S. Evans, John Amerman and an unnamed third party will race the colt. He will be trained by Hall of Famer Neil Drysdale, who trained A.P. Indy and assisted the partnership in selecting the colt. Agent Bob Feld was also involved.
“He's a gorgeous colt,” said Feld. “There aren't too many A.P. Indy's left. Neil thought he looked more like A.P. Indy than any colt he's ever seen.”
A.P. Indy was also the sire of the night's highest-priced filly, a daughter of the Unbridled mare Private Gift, the dam being a half sister by A.P. Indy to Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Status. She was purhased by Besilu Stables for $775,000 from the consignent of Mt. Brilliant Farm, agent.
The first mllion-dollar yearling of the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale was a $1.2 million colt by the Darley stallion Street Cry out of the graded stakes-winning Unbridled's Song mare Forest Music, consigned by Gainesway Farm, agent for Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, the operation of the late Jess Jackson and his widow Barbara Banke. Selling as Hip 63, the colt was purchased in the name of George Bolton, a partner with Jackson and Banke on several horses, including Horse of the Year Curlin. According to Darley, this was the first million-dollar yearling ever for Street Cry, an Irish-bred son of the Mr. Prospector stallion Machiavellian who won the 2002 Dubai World Cup as a 4-year-old.
“I saw this horse grow up and whenever you see a horse grow up and know a horse from its early days on, that's very important,” said Bolton, who bid by telephone. “The mare is proven to be a good runner, and she had a great first foal. Those are some pretty nice pieces of news to have.”
A short time later, another son of Street Cry, this one a ridgling out of the champion mare and multiple stakes producer Hollywood Wildcat, by Kris S., sold for $925,000 (and featured in the Paulick Report's Consignor Countdown: Book One). This one was sold by Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent for Irv Cowan, who raced Hollywood Wildcat with his late wife, Marjorie. He was purchased by the Besilu Stables of Benjamin Leon Jr., who made a splash at the 2010 Keeneland sale by purchasing three yearlings for $5,060,000, including the sale-topping A.P. Indy colt for $4.2 million. Leon's Besilu was the night's leading buyer, with four purchases – two colts and two fillies – totaling $3 million.
“It's a Street Cry son and (he) has a heck of a family on the dam side,” Leon said. “We are trying to round up the very best quality – not quantity but quality. We believe the horses we are buying are quality and they look like good racehorses.”
A Bernardini colt whose second dam produced Horse of the Year and sire Holy Bull brought $875,000 earlier in the session. The colt, produced from Brandy Rose, a daughter of Distinctive Pro, was consigned by Bluewater Sales Inc., and purchased by Demi O'Byrne on behalf of the Coolmore operation of John Magnier and partners. It was Coolmore's only purchase of the night.
That colt, Hip 43, was preceded into the ring by a $725,000 Dynaformer colt out of stakes winner Bohemian Lady, by Carson City, from the consignment of Three Chimneys Farm, purchased by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum's Shadwell Estate Co. Ltd. Shadwell was second leading buyer, with six purchases totaling $2,880,000. Shadwell was leading buyer during the course of the 2010 September sale, with 22 purchases for $8,230,000
Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum's chief bloodstock agent John Ferguson was third leading buyer of the night, spending $2,030,000 on six yearlings. Last year, Ferguson spent just $2,755,000 during the entire September sale.
Japanese buyers were quite active, purchasing nine yearlings for a total of $2,985,000, led by Nobutaka Tada (three, $1,235,000). The Japanese buyers and the Maktoums accounted for $7,895,000 in purchases, roughly 31% of the night's gross receipts.
The sale got off to a slow start, with nine of the first 16 through the ring failing to attract new buyers. But that's nothing new, especially for a select sale in an uncertain atmosphere where both buyers and consignors are trying to gauge the overall strength of the market.
Among American buyers, agent Steve Young purchased a $575,000 filly by Tapit out of Shop Here, a daughter of Dehere, reported to be for the account of Nicholas Brady's Mill House. Brady is the former secretary of the treasury for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush and a longtime officer of The Jockey Club in New York. Other American buyers with at least one purchase included Glen Hill Farm, Brushwood Stable, George Strawbridge, and Willis Horton, among others.
There was just one yearling offered Sunday night from the dispersal of the late Edward P. Evans, a Medaglia d'Oro colt purchased by John Ferguson for $500,000. Three yearlings from the Evans dispersal, being handled by Lane's End, are catalogued for Monday night.
“There were a number of good, solid outcomes from today's session,” said Keeneland vice president of sales Walt Robertson. “We had two horses sell for more than a million dollars compared to one that sold in this session last year. The top two buyers are domestic, yet several of the top-priced hips sold to international buyers, indicating a depth within in the buying bench. The average was up, as was the median. Clearly, the buyers remain discerning in this market. All in all, we're pleased with how this session went.”
Keeneland has catalogued 4,319 yearlings for the 13-day sale, which runs through Sept. 24.
The sale continues on Monday night at 7 p.m. ET. Book 2 will span Tuesday-Thursday, September 13-15, with sessions starting at 11 a.m.
Click here to view the catalog.
Click here for a live video feed of the auction.
Click here for results from the opening session.
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