Keeneland Yearling Sale Ends Positively

Running from 11 to 24 September 2011, the Keeneland September Yearling Sale ended on Saturday with great gains and increases in all categories. Known as the world’s largest Thoroughbred yearling auction, this year’s event left consignors hopeful that the market was on the mend.

By the end of the thirteen sessions at Keeneland, gross sales were up 12.7% from last year, totaling $223,487,800, with 2,921 yearlings sold. While more horses were sold in 2010 (3,059 to be exact), gross sales only reached $198,254,900. The average price rose to $76,511, which is 18% up from last year’s $64,810. The median also grew by 20%, up to $30,000 from last year’s $25,000. Six yearlings were auctioned for $1 million or more, which was three more than last year. The top sale was made during the opening select session on Sunday, with Robert “Shel” Evans, John Amerman and an anonymous partner purchasing an A.P. Indy-Malka colt for $1.4 million. Interestingly, the sale-topper last year was also an A.P. Indy colt, but he sold for the impressive amount of $4.2 million.

Leading the buyer’s list was John Ferguson, who was representing Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai’s interests. Ferguson purchased 36 yearlings for $8,870,000. This was followed Besilu Stables owner Benjamin Leon Jr., a domestic buyer, at $8,175,000 for 13 yearlings. Amongst Leon’s purchases were an Unbridled’s Song filly for $1.3 million and a Bernardini-Silk n’Sapphire filly for $1.2 million. In fact, there was notable domestic participation this year. Amongst these was Ben Glass, who bought 21 yearlings for Mary and Gary West, at a total of $5,225,000; while Frank Stronach’s Adena Springs paid $4,574,000 for 44 horses.

The strong gains seen throughout the Keeneland September Yearling Sale have been attributed to a number of factors. Keeneland had reduced the Book 2 portion that immediately follows the select sessions to three days. It was felt that these changes strengthened both Book 2 and Book 3. In addition Lane’s End Farm’s consignment included the estate dispersal of the late Edward P. “Ned” Evans, with the 50 yearlings selling for $6,527,000. The estate of the late Saud bin Khaled’s Palides Investments was also dispersed, selling 10 yearlings for $987,500. Another likely factor was that the foal crop was smaller with a rise in quality. This, along with lower stud fees and decreased production costs, has increased buyer confidence, as they can get in to racing at lower rates.