Keeneland’s January Horses of All Ages Sale closed today following four days of spirited competition for quality offerings that yielded results comparable to 2022 to signal continued stability and consistency in the market.
Gross sales for the auction, which began Monday, were $45,408,300, down slightly from last year’s $46,341,100. A total of 962 horses sold through the ring versus 1,013 in 2022. Cumulative average price of $47,202 rose 3.18 percent from $45,746. Median price of $19,000 was 5 percent below last year’s record $20,000.
“We are very happy with the way the sale has gone. The metrics are comparable to last year’s record sale, and to be on par with a record sale is incredibly healthy,” Keeneland Vice President of Sales Tony Lacy said. “It’s a bit of a microcosm of the November Breeding Stock Sale. Very busy in the barns; good solid trade. The buying bench was deep and diverse, with strong domestic representation and an international presence that included buyers from Japan, Saudi Arabia and Korea. Sellers are very pleased with the way their horses have been received.
“Demand for quality – young and proven mares and short yearlings – was as strong as ever,” Lacy continued. “There was a little adjustment in the market with minor corrections in the middle and lower ends that are normal and acceptable. When you look at the global economic head winds, there is every reason why we should be in a more challenging environment, but we’re not. Everyone is coming out of this week with a lot of confidence going into breeding season.”
Jacob West, who bought horses for such clients as Repole Stable and Robert and Lawana Low in the name of his West Bloodstock and sold horses through his Highgate Sales, agreed that a premium was placed on quality.
“When you have the goods, everybody is there,” West said. “Quality products bring quality money.”
The second session featured the sale’s two most expensive horses, supplement Ancient Peace and England’s Rose, who both recently raced in Southern California. Travis Boersma’s Boardshorts Stables paid $650,000 for Ancient Peace, a Sam-Son Farm-bred 3-year-old filly by War Front who scored her first victory in December on the turf at Santa Anita by 4¼ lengths.
Supplements to the main catalog produced two of the sale’s 10 highest-priced horses, led by sale-topping Ancient Peace and Ack Naughty, who sold for $500,000.
“The supplementary aspect allows us to be flexible and responsive to our clients while accommodating those who want to capitalize on current updates,” Keeneland Director of Sales Operations Cormac Breathnach said. “The results speak to the quality of the main catalog. The supplements provide a bit of sizzle and momentum going into the next day of selling.”
Boardshorts was the January Sale’s leading buyer, paying $1,227,000 for four horses. During the second session, Boardshorts also spent $450,000 on broodmare prospect Empire Hope, a daughter of Empire Maker. Ancient Peace and Empire Hope both were consigned by Indian Creek, agent.
“It’s wonderful to see young enterprises like Boardshorts Stables, Determined Stud and Pin Oak really starting to ramp up alongside the more established breeders who are reinvesting,” Lacy said.
The depth of the January Sale buying bench was evidenced in the fact that the 15 highest-priced horses sold to 14 different entities. Other leading buyers included James Schenck, Repole Stable/Taylor Made Idol Mare Partners, MWG, Castleton Way, First Finds, Sycamore Hall Thoroughbreds/David Wade, agent, and Jose Aguirre.
Marshall Taylor spent a total of $670,000 on three yearlings for Castleton Way, a pinhooking partnership that purchased yearlings at the January Sale for the second year.
“Quality is what is selling,” Taylor said. “We were buying yearlings to pinhook this summer. We’re looking for a really good physical by the right sire. Bidding was really hard. For all the ones you liked, everybody else liked, too. Some of (my clients) were selling mares and short yearlings, so I’ve been on the selling side, too. (Bidding for mares was) challenging for anything that’s young, in foal to a good stallion, a good pedigree, a good physical mare.”
While bidding on mares for his clients, including German Larrea’s St. George Stables, bloodstock agent Eduardo Terrazas said the competition was tough.
“The key is not to buy anything just to fill up stalls,” Terrazas said. “Every mare you think will bring around $150,000 or thereabouts, they’re bringing $200,000, $250,000. We’ve been outbid eight times. There are a handful of mares every day that meet your criteria, but that’s the same criteria (of major breeders). So whoever has the most money is going to end up with the mare.”
James Schenck, agent, paid the sale’s second-highest price of $600,000 for England’s Rose, a 7-year-old stakes-winning daughter of English Channel who was second in the Matriarch (G1) at Del Mar in December. She was consigned by Lane’s End, agent.
During the first session, West Bloodstock, agent for Robert and Lawana Low, paid $450,000 for the top-priced yearling, a filly by Quality Road who is from the family of Grade 1 winner New Year’s Day and Grade 2 winner Mohaymen. Her dam, Evocative, a daughter of Pioneerof the Nile who is in foal to Quality Road, preceded her in the sales ring and was purchased for $550,000 by Kerri Radcliffe, agent. Both horses were consigned by Bedouin Bloodstock, agent.
Also selling for $550,000 was Grade 3 winner and broodmare prospect In Good Spirits, a 6-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper, purchased by West Bloodstock, agent for Repole Stable. She was consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent for Bal Mar Equine.
Taylor Made Sales Agency was the January Sale’s leading consignor for the 20th time since 2001. Taylor Made posted sales of $6,371,100 for 100 horses.
In the first session, Chester and Mary Broman spent $500,000 on supplement Ack Naughty, dam of recent Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) winner Practical Move. The 11-year-old daughter of Afleet Alex, who is in foal to Upstart, was consigned by ELiTE, agent.
Palio Flag, a 6-year-old winning daughter of Curlin in foal to Maclean’s Music, sold for $450,000 to Gage Hill Stable. She was consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent for STH.
Maclean’s Music was the January Sale’s leading covering sire (with three or more in-foal mares sold) with seven in-foal broodmares selling for $990,000.
Other top-priced yearlings were by Gun Runner ($400,000 and $300,000) and Uncle Mo ($340,000 and $335,000). Uncle Mo was the leading sire of yearlings (with three or more sold) with five bringing a total of $980,000.
On Friday, Will Walden Racing Stable purchased recent Valedictory (G3) winner Wentru for $200,000 to lead the final session. Consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent, the 5-year-old Tourist gelding has won his past four races.
During the final session, Keeneland sold 241 horses for $3,675,700, for an average of $15,252 and a median of $8,000.
“We thank all the buyers and consignors who participated in the January Sale for their continued support of Keeneland,” Keeneland President and CEO Shannon Arvin said. “We wish everyone good luck in the upcoming breeding season.”
Racing returns to Keeneland Friday, April 7 for opening day of the 15-day Spring Meet, which features the $600,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1). Keeneland will award a season record $8.05 million for 19 stakes during the meet led by the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G1) on April 8. The Spring Meet runs through April 28.