In a slight departure from recent sales, North American buyers made their presence felt at the higher levels in the Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale. Top buyers by money spent throughout the sale's first three sessions included Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Texas-based Baumann Stables, Ben Glass, Denali Stud, and Stonestreet Thoroughbreds (which led the second session with four horses purchased for a total of $2,620,000).
Keeneland's director of sales, Geoffrey Russell, believes the shift away from seeing the Japanese and Australians at the top of the early sessions marks a recovery from the credit crisis of 2008 that affected so many North American buyers.
Monday's sale headliner was Baumann Stables' $1.3 million purchase of the broodmare prospect Nereid. Tuesday produced Keeneland January's highest price – a $1.45 Street Sense yearling bought by Canadian Nat Rea's Regis Farms. Wednesday's sale topper was a $350,000 Medaglia d'Oro yearling purchased by Ben Glass for Gary and Mary West.
“I think the best way to look at it is the crisis of 2008 pushed a lot of American buyers out, leaving room for international buyers,” said Russell. “With the economy getting better and the market getting better, the (American) buyers are now coming back.”
Russell says he believes the usual international suspects were present at this year's sale but shied away from the big money.
“They're buying,” Russell said. “Japanese buyers are very savvy, and the Australians are as well. They take advantage of when our market has a little softening to it. And it depends on where their currency is in comparison to ours.”
Russell hopes that the changes in his top buyer demographics are representative of a recovery more so than a temporary shift in the auction tides.
“The domestic market has always been very strong. 2008 was a huge problem worldwide, but especially here in North America. The further away we get from 2008, the better.”
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