A colt by Empire Maker brought $1.1 million as Keeneland recorded gains in gross, average and median on Thursday as it concluded the first week of the September Yearling Sale.
Seven yearlings brought $1 million or more during the first week of selling compared to six in 2011.
Shigeyuki Okada bought the session-topping colt by Empire Maker out of multiple graded stakes winner Lu Ravi, by A.P. Indy. He is a half-brother to the stakes-winning filly Ravi’s Song and from the family of champion juvenile filly Halfbridled.
“He has very good muscle, good leg, good conformation, and he’s very smart,” said Okada when asked what he liked about the Empire Maker colt.
Okada recently purchased 2012 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1) winner I’ll Have Another for stud duty at his Big Red Farm in Hokkaido, Japan.
The Empire Maker colt was consigned by Peter O’Callaghan’s Woods Edge Farm.
“We thought he was an outstanding horse,” O’Callaghan said. (Lu Ravi) is a lovely mare and we’ve had a great run the last couple of years with some lovely foals out of her. But he’s the best she’s ever had. He’s exceptional in everyone’s eyes; every breeder strives to produce a horse like him.”
Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stables went to $900,000, the day’s second-highest price, for a colt by Smart Strike. Consigned by Dromoland Farm, agent, the colt is out of the Maria’s Mon mare Mon Belle, a full sister to Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Monarchos. He is a half-brother to stakes winner Supreme.
“It was more than I wanted to give, but he’s a nice horse,” said John Moynihan, who signed the ticket for the colt. “We’ve had good luck with Smart Strike, with horses like (champion) My Miss Aurelia, (Horse of the Year) Curlin, and (Grade 2 winner) Dominus. When people have luck with a particular sire line, they tend to go back to the well a little bit. We just went really deep in this well.”
On Thursday, Keeneland sold 198 horses for $35,750,000, an increase of 5.02 percent over 2011 when 209 horses brought $34,040,500. Average price for the day of $180,556 rose 10.86 percent from last year’s session average of $162,873. The median price of $140,000 was up 7.69 percent from the $130,000 posted in 2011.
The buy-back rate on Thursday decreased 3.44 percent to 25 percent.
After four days, 655 yearlings have been sold for $132,853,000, for an average of $202,829 and a median of $150,000. Last year through five sessions (includes two select sessions in 2011 versus one in 2012), 753 horses had been sold for $145,216,500, for an average of $192,851 and a median of $150,000.
“It seems like every day this week we’ve gotten more horses sold, and that’s the important number,” said Keeneland Vice President of Sales Walt Robertson. “In the absence of some of last year’s leading buyers, we’ve had other buyers step up and take their place. It’s a resilient business, and I’m very happy with the way it’s going.”
A colt by Unbridled’s Song out of Winning Colors Stakes (G3) winner Miss Macy Sue brought a final bid of $800,000 from J.J. Crupi, as agent for the New York-based St. Elias partnership.
“He was a stand-out. I just loved him,” said Crupi. “He looked like a racehorse, and looked like if he did something good, he could be a stallion.”
Trainer Todd Pletcher, on behalf of an undisclosed group of American buyers, paid $750,000 for a colt by Giant’s Causeway from the consignment of Four Star Sales, agent. Out of the Unbridled’s Song mare Good Vibes, the colt is a half-brother to stakes winner Warning Flag.
“He was an outstanding colt,” Pletcher said. “I love Giant’s Causeway as a stallion. We’ve had lots of success with him over the years. Anytime you get one that looks like (this colt) and walks like he does, he’s the complete package.”
No sale will be conducted Friday, September 14. Selling resumes Saturday, September 15, and continues through Friday, September 21. Sessions those days begin at 10 a.m. ET. The entire sale is streamed live at Keeneland.com.