Keeneland Thoroughbred Sale Continues Slump in Second Session

When most everything else in the world--including stocks and home values--seems to be losing value, 3-year-old racehorse Mushka went up in the value, proving the old adage that good horses will bring good money, even in tough economic times.

The daughter of Empire Maker out of the Seeking the Gold mare Sluice was purchased for $2.4 million by Elizabeth Moran's Brushwood Stable from the consignment of Eaton Sales, agent for Ahmed Zayat's Zayat Stables to top day two of the 2008 Keeneland November breeding stock sale Nov. 4 in Lexington.

For the second of 15 sessions, Keeneland reported 150 horses sold to gross $42,006,000. The average was $280,040 and the median $160,000. The buy-back rate was 34.5% with 79 horses failing to sell. Seventy-five horses were withdrawn from the session.

"I thought today had a little more uniformity to it," said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland's director of sales. "There was still active bidding from a wide range of people and countries, and that is always interesting. As we said yesterday, this is the marketplace and they (the buyers) decide what the prices are."

Compared to last year, the number of horses sold dropped 18.9%, while the gross fell 39.3%. The average was down 25.2%, and the median slipped 27.2%.

Last year's second session saw 185 hips sell for $69,285,000. The average was $374,514 and the median was $220,000. Eleven horses sold for $1 million or more and the buy-back rate was 19.8%.

For the first two days, Keeneland reported 299 horses sold for $90,027,000. The average was $301,094, and the median was $170,000. The book-one buy-back rate was 36.4%, with 171 horses failing to meet their reserves. The number of outs for the first two sessions totaled 145.

Compared to the first two sessions last year, the number of horses sold fell 21.1%, while the gross slipped 49.5%. The average was down 36.0%, and the median was off 32%.

Last year, through two days, 379 horses sold to gross $178,349,000. The average was $470,578, and the median $250,000. Thirty-nine horses had sold for $1 million or more and the buy-back rate was 19.5%.

Mushka, who sold as a racing or broodmare prospect, was part of a Zayat consignment that included horses of racing age, broodmares, stallion prospects, and a few weanlings. Zayat said before the sale that it was part of his business plan to offer ready-made racehorses to the public.

"The first part of the sale (when selling fillies) was phenomenal, but the second part (when colts were sold as racing or stallion prospects), I don't understand," said Zayat. "But the horses like Massive Drama, a grade III winner and who is grade I placed (failed to meet his reserve when bidding stopped at $350,000), I don't understand. I came here to sell horses and that is what I am going to do."

Bred in Kentucky by Diane Snowden, Mushka was purchased by Zayat for $1.6 million at the 2006 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale. Her price topped the yearling auction.

Mushka will remain in training with Bill Mott.

(Originally published at

About the Author

Leslie Deckard

Leslie Deckard is a former staff writer for The Blood-Horse magazine.

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