Buoyant trade at ninth session of Keeneland

Buoyant trade at ninth session of Keeneland
By Ron Mitchell of Blood-Horse 1:19PM 22 SEP 2016

A WEEK ago, hardly anyone would have predicted that the ninth session of the Keeneland September Yearling Sale would be a vibrant and buoyant market yielding increases in gross, average, and median prices.

After all, before the marathon auction that continues through to Sunday, there was considerable pessimism, especially considering the tepid market that drug down prices in other yearling sales.

Boosted by spirited bidding from U.S. and foreign buyers on an unseasonably warm fall day during the Sept. 21 session, 274 yearlings sold for $11,120,100, up four per cent from the same session at the 2015 sale when 280 horses changed hands for $10,684,100. The average rose six per cent from $38,158 to $40,584, while the median jumped 20 per cent from $25,000 to $30,000.

With the completion of Book 4, Keeneland reported 1,916 horses have sold for $259,841,500, compared with 2,076 horses grossing $270,477,300 through the same session a year ago. The cumulative average of $135,617 has increased four per cent from last year's $130,273 and the median of $80,000 remained unchanged from 2015.

"The vibe is better than we have seen in sales all year," said Tom Thornbury, Keeneland's associate director of sales operations. "I have never seen so many people out and about at this point in the sale."

Thornbury said Keeneland places an emphasis on its buyer recruitment worldwide, and this year enhanced those efforts domestically in view of the down market.

"We have buyers here from five continents," the sales executive said. "One of our greatest efforts is in outreach. We try our best to get the brand out there and get people here to buy."

Majestic Warrior colt tops ninth session

The day's top price of $225,000 was paid by Bob Feld, agent, for a Majestic Warrior colt from the Hidden Brook consignment. The colt, consigned as hip 2887, is out of the Grade 3-placed Lion Heart mare Hearts On Fire and from the family of Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap winner Wishing Gate and Grade 3 Regret Stakes winner Rich in Spirit.

The colt bred in Kentucky by Diane Connell was the first horse purchased on behalf of Tommy and Bonnie Hamilton's Silverton Hill of Springfield, Ky., by Feld, who counts five Grade 1 winners among the 14 graded stakes winners he has purchased at Keeneland September over the years.

Feld said he was contacted by the Hamiltons with a desire to find them a classic-type horse at the auction.

"They said they wanted a [Kentucky] Derby colt or a cold-stone runner," Feld said of his initial conversation with the Hamiltons. "I think he qualifies as both. His walk was amazing. I think he has a lot of sizzle to him."

Feld said he had no trepidation about going to that level for a foal by Majestic Warrior, who now stands in Japan.

"He's not the sizzle sire right now but I've done very well over the years buying the best of an 'off' sire,'" Feld said. "This is the type of horse that could put him back on the map."

"He very much resembled Gemologist"

A colt by Gemologist out of the winning Distorted Humor mare Whimsical Miss commanded the day's second-highest price of $220,000 from agent Mike Ryan, agent. He was consigned by Cross Keys Sales, agent, as hip 2717.

Ryan purchased two yearlings for a total of $380,000 to be the day's leading buyer.

"He very much resembled Gemologist; a big, strong colt, good mover," Ryan said. "He seemed like he had a good disposition out back. I hope he's a Saratoga two-year-old. That's what he was bought for. He looked like it to me.

"I knew [the client would] have to step up for him. I said 'He's in the right book, but he's a damn nice horse.' Obviously somebody else wanted him bad too, somebody out back, but we're delighted to get him. He came off a good farm."

Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent, ranked as the session's top consignor, selling 26 yearlings for $1,084,500.

For more news on US racing, sales and bloodstock news visit bloodhorse.com

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