Demand for quality horses continued to be strong into the third session of Keeneland’s September Yearling Sale on Wednesday as the auction transitioned into the Book 2 catalog. Robust trade generated positive results, including the sale of five seven-figure horses – led by a colt by McKinzie who is a half-brother to 2023 Kentucky Derby (G1) Presented by Woodford Reserve winner Mage and was purchased by Mayberry Farm for $1.2 million.
Total sales through the first three days of the auction are $180,949,000 for 430 horses, on par with the corresponding period last year when 439 yearlings sold for $180,355,000. Cumulative average price of $420,812 rose 2.43 percent from last year’s $410,831, while the median ticked up 1.54 percent from $325,000 to $330,000.
A total of 28 yearlings have sold for $1 million or more during the first three days of the 2023 auction to equal the number from the same period last year.
On Wednesday, the first day of Book 2, 209 yearlings sold for $64,024,000, down slightly from last year’s $66,695,000 when 219 horses sold. The average of $306,335 increased 0.59 percent from $304,543 in 2022 The median of $255,000 was nearly identical to last year’s $250,000.
“We have to be very pleased with the way the day turned out,” Keeneland Vice President of Sales Tony Lacy said. “Being on par with last year’s record sale figures – gross, average and median. Early in the day it was a little slower but it picked up and charged on very strongly right to the end.
“The market was very healthy,” Lacy said. “Buyers are finding it very competitive; there are a lot of quality horses out there. It’s challenging on both sides of the coin in a good way. The strength of the domestic buying bench was very evident. International buyers were active at a lower price level, but I think they will be very active for a while. It bodes well for tomorrow.”
“The strength at the top is very obvious,” Keeneland Director of Sales Operations Cormac Breathnach said. “There were 39 horses today that brought $500,000 or more compared to 29 horses last year, so that’s a significant increase. And you can see, we’re half a million ahead of our gross after three days this year compared to our record sale last year. RNAs are just a touch higher than what we would want and we’re cognizant of that, but the activity is all there. Median and average are just a couple percent higher than they were last year, so it’s an extremely good sale.”
Runnymede Farm, agent, sold the two highest-priced yearlings Wednesday.
The $1.2 million colt, who is from the first crop of McKinzie, is out of stakes winner Puca, by Big Brown, and from the family of Grade 1 winner Finnegans Wake. (Puca is scheduled to be sold Nov. 8 at Keeneland on the first day of the November Breeding Stock Sale by Case Clay Thoroughbred Management.)
Dottie Ingordo-Shirreffs signed the ticket for the colt on behalf of Mayberry Farm.
“He’s a very athletic colt, and we would like to have a nice colt,” Ingordo-Shirreffs said. “Obviously, there’s a fabulous pedigree, and (he is out of) a young mare, so it has a lot of positives. You always want one with a lot of presence, and he has that.”
Mayberry Farm purchased six yearlings for $4,210,000 to lead all buyers during the session.
Runnymede Farm, agent, also consigned the day’s second-highest priced yearling, a colt by Gun Runner who sold to Repole Stable and Spendthrift Partners for $1.15 million. From the family of Kentucky Derby winner Strike the Gold and Grade 3 winners Bridgetown and Greydar, he is out of the Speightstown mare Margate Gardens.
“The best colt of the day, in our opinion,” Mike Repole said. “The team liked him. I think the right people were on him, and sometimes when you get a couple of the right people on them, you pay a little bit more than you want.”
“He is a perfect mover, very efficient on his feet,” Runnymede’s Romain Malhouitre said. “He is a very good cross between Gun Runner and Speightstown. He is a late April foal, and he always was compact with that beautiful walk. We knew he would come here and show himself quite well, but we didn’t expect he would go that high.”
Runnymede has sold three million-dollar yearlings at this year’s September Sale.
“The sense of gratitude is just tremendous,” Runnymede Chairman and CEO Brutus J. Clay III said. “We feel so blessed to have the team we have. For me, we have this land that has been in the family (since 1867), so I can’t take credit for that but to be able to be a good steward of that is incredible. (The yearling out of) Margate Gardens was a particularly sweet moment because (co-breeder) Peter Callahan has been a partner of ours for 30 years.”
Two yearlings sold for $1.1 million each.
West Point Thoroughbreds paid the amount for a son of Into Mischief out of Grade 3 winner Ever So Clever, by Medaglia d’Oro. Clearsky Farms, agent, consigned the colt, who is from the family of Grade 3 winner In Conference and stakes winner Foxy Danseur.
“He is a June 1 foal,” buyer Terry Finley said. “I made the analogy that he is a kindergartner on a playground of third graders. He’s really athletic, had a great mind and I think he has a huge amount of upside.”
Finley, who said the colt would race for a partnership to be determined, said the desire for racehorses had continued into Book 2.
“People aren’t afraid to spend money and invest in the future,” Finley said. “That’s what we’re all doing: investing in the future.”
Selling to D.J. Stable for $1.1 million was a Tapit filly who is the first foal out of multiple Grade 3 winner Lady’s Island, by Greatness. Consigned by Gainesway, agent, she is from the family of Irish champion Law Society.
“She had all the right parts in all the right places,” buyer Jon Green said. “I don’t get enamored with too many horses where I sit back and say ‘Oh, my God’ or I forget who it is or who the hip number is, but certainly this filly took my breath away. Mark Casse, our trainer, went to look at her independently from when we looked at her. We compared notes this morning, and there was no doubt that she was the No. 1 filly on both of our lists.”
“I’ve never seen a horse change as much in the last 90 days,” Gainesway General Manager Brian Graves said about the filly, the consignor’s ninth seven-figure horse at the September Sale. “She just really started shaping up, developing and growing the right way. All the trainers really loved her. She developed at the right time. It’s been one of the best sales we’ve had in a very long time.”
With sales of $10.4 million for 23 yearlings, Gainesway was the session’s leading consignor.
A colt by Uncle Mo who is the first foal out of winner Flighty Almighty (GB), by Elusive Quality, sold to Jim and Dana Bernhard’s Pin Oak Stud for $1 million. Consigned by Hunter Valley Farm, agent, he is from the family of French highweight Regal Parade and Group 3 winners Boomer and The Cheka.
“Beautiful colt,” Pin Oak adviser Matt Weinmann, who signed the ticket, said. “Uncle Mo has been having a pretty incredible sale, so we knew (the yearling) would cost. Book 1 was very, very strong, probably the strongest I have seen in my lifetime. You have to pay when there is a good one. We will keep shopping for a while and try to pick out some gems.”
“It’s fantastic, a great price for the horse – well above our expectations,” Adrian Regan of Hunter Valley said. “He’s a lovely colt, very straightforward. Very typical of Uncle Mo. A solid horse. I wish them very best of luck.”
Mayberry Farm spent $875,000 for a filly by Into Mischief who is a half-sister to Grade 3 winner Share the Ride. Consigned by Hill ‘n’ Dale at Xalapa, agent, she is out of the stakes-winning Graeme Hall mare Bell of the Hall and from the family of Canadian champion Ambitious Cat, Grade 1 winner Blushing K. D. and two-time 2023 Louisiana-bred stakes winner Woods N Water.
“She’s a big, strong-looking filly,” buyer Dottie Ingordo-Shirreffs said. “We love Into Mischief; she has a nice pedigree. My husband (John Shirreffs), when we were doing the inspections, thought she was a ‘wow’ and everybody agreed.”
“She was shown almost 200 times,” Jared Burdine of Hill ‘n’ Dale at Xalapa said. “She’s the belle of Book 2. Everybody loved her. She’s a beautiful filly who did everything right. (Her sale price) was in the range. It’s been a solid market. All the good horses are bringing what they’re supposed to bring and some a little more. It’s good across the board.”
The fourth session of the September Sale, which marks the conclusion of the two-day Book 2, begins tomorrow at 11 a.m. ET. The entire sale is streamed live at Keeneland.com.