Keeneland’s September Yearling Sale

Long considered to be a marker for the health index of the horse industry in general, the September Keeneland Yearling Sale, in Lexington, Kentucky, wrapped up last weekend with spectacular results, indicating a more-than-expected resurgence in the Thoroughbred racing world.

Gross sales of $280,491,300, the highest since 2008; the sale of 18 yearlings for $1 million or more, the most since 2008; and enthusiastic participation from what Keeneland termed a “globally deep buying bench” resulted in double-digit increases in gross and average, and a record median price.

Glenye Oakford, senior correspondent with Blood Horse Magazine explained what this means for the market and breeding industry, “Obviously, it’s great for the breeding industry, and it’s great for the sales. It’s also good because we saw signs of this, this doesn’t appear to be a fluke, we saw heading into this sale that the general market was pretty good for yearlings, the two-year-old sales this year were good, so it seems to be following a good upward trend, it looks like it is for real.”

Photo courtesy Keeneland

Interestingly and a key point to our western competitive breeding industry, she stated a huge factor in the success of the sale was not only the upswing of the economy, but importantly the smaller foal crops in the Thoroughbred breeding world, which have put supply much more in line with demand.

The current yearling crop comes from an estimated 23,500 North American foals, compared with the 38,361 in the 2005 crop that led to the peak 2006 yearling sale. This year’s North American foal crop — next year’s yearlings — is estimated at 23,000. The 2014 foal crop is projected at 22,000.

Additionally, international trade and a big demand worldwide for American racehorses accounted for the big gains of this sale.

Photo courtesy Keeneland

M.V. Magnier of Irish-based Coolmore Stud purchased the sale-topper, paying $2.5 million for a colt by War Front during the sale’s fourth session. Woods Edge Farm consigned the colt, who is out of the stakes-placed During mare Blading Gold Ring. Incidentally, War Front’s breeding fee in 2013 stood at $80,000, raised from $60,000 the year previous.

Keeneland Sales Director Geoffrey Russell — who warned about overproduction several years ago, now says he hopes there is some increase in the foal crop again, with people who took mares out of production bringing some of them back. He said the foals are needed to serve both domestic and international demand.

On the heels of this important industry-marking sale, it will be interesting to follow the western performance sales coming up this fall and see if our industry breeders have followed the lead of the Thoroughbred breeders.

Photo courtesy Keeneland

Quick stats:

– average price of $102,220 rose 17 percent from $87,330 in 2012. It is the highest average since 2006 and the third-highest September Sale average ever.

– median surged to a record $50,000, up 11.1 percent from last year’s $45,000.

– gross sales of $280,491,300, the highest since 2008.

– 18 yearlings sold for $1 million or more, the most since 2008.

~ with files from Keeneland and Bloodhorse.com