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Thoroughbred Times

Photo Courtesy of Keeneland

by Joe Nevills, @mibredclaimer, Thoroughbred Times

With a selected book one that was a day shorter and cataloged 37.4% fewer horses, averages saw a significant gain during the opening session of the Keeneland September yearling sale on Monday, fueled by five yearlings which sold for seven figures each.

Because of Keeneland’s new catalog format for this year’s sale, where the selected portion consisted of a single day of 132 cataloged horses, as opposed to 211 horses over two days, the sales figures are compared between overall selected sessions, as opposed to day-by-day.

The average sale price of $403,876 was a 14.3% gain from the combined two-day selected portion of last year’s catalog, which averaged $353,488. The median price also spiked 16.7% from $300,000 to $350,000.

The total receipts were lower as a natural by-product of the new selected format, finishing at $45,600,000.

Despite the smaller catalog for the select session, the number of horses that sold for $1-million or more rose from three to five.

The buyback rate rose slightly to 34.2% after last year's select sessions finished at 32.5%.

“I liked every number,” said Walt Robertson, Keeneland’s vice president of sales. “You’d always like to sell a few more, but this is a very selective world we’re living in, and our buyers literally came from everywhere. We were pleased that the Japanese hit hard, and the Americans hit pretty hard too, as did some others.”

The session took a while to build momentum, with the strength of Book 1 coming in its later offerings. Of the five seven-figure horses in the first session, three went through the ring during the last 32 offerings.

“With 132 head, we knew what was on the grounds,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales. “We knew there were some good horses, and we knew we were going to end with a large bang, and we did.”

The second-to-last offering of the session was Monday's session topper, a $1.65-million Distorted Humor colt that sold to Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Shadwell Estate Co. Ltd.



Photo Courtesy of Keeneland

The bay colt is the first foal out of Grade 1 winning Empire Maker mare Mushka. He is from the family of multiple Grade 1 winner Lakeway, and 2009 Kentucky Oaks (G1) third-place finisher Flying Spur.

“We’re really happy,” said Reiley McDonald of consignor Eaton Sales, agent. “Anytime in this market you crack a million dollars, you’re doing well.

“He had the profile that everybody is looking for nowadays, the neck set, the long shoulder, long back, and the great hip, and he just had a great attitude through the whole thing,” McDonald continued. “They get through four days of pretty heavy abuse here, through the scoping, and the looking, and the heart monitoring and all that, and he handled it with a lot of grace.”

The colt was bred in Kentucky by Betty Moran’s Brushwood Stable, for whom McDonald serves as an advisor. Mushka was a $1.6-million purchase in the 2006 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga selected yearling sale, and later sold for $2.4-million at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale.

“We were trying to breed a mare that could run on anything to an American sire,” McDonald said, explaining why Distorted Humor was chosen for Mushka’s first mating. “We were lucky because we got a lot of the size from the mare, and hopefully we can get the heart and toughness from the stallion.”

The strength of the sale-topper helped propel consignor Eaton Sales and buyer Shadwell Estate Co. to the top of their respective fields by gross monetary figures.

Eaton Sales led consignors with 11 horses sold for a total of $5,130,000. However, Mill Ridge Sales led by average sale price, selling two horses for an average of $650,000, led by a $1.1-million A.P. Indy filly out of multiple graded stakes-producing Carson City mare Moonlight Sonata. Whisper Hill Farm purchased the filly, one of six yearlings from the final crop of A.P. Indy that sold on Monday evening for an average of $600,000.

Shadwell was the top buyer with four purchases totaling $3.8-million.

In addition to the session-topping Distorted Humor colt and the A.P. Indy filly, the other three yearlings to bring a million or more were a Smart Strike colt who is a half sibling to Grade 1 winner Bodemeister, purchased by Donato Lanni, agent for John Sikura and Bruce Lunsford, for $1.3-million; a War Front colt who is a half sibling to Grade 1 winner Contested, purchased by Jane Dunn, agent, for $1.05-million; and a Street Cry (Ire) colt who is a half sibling to Grade 1 winner Paynter, purchased by Charles and Maribeth Sandford for $1-million.

The second session will kick off book two of six of this year’s September sale, starting Tuesday at 11 a.m. EDT.

Joe Nevills is a Thoroughbred Times staff writer



Photo Courtesy of Keeneland

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