Keeneland Thoroughbred Sale Opening Down 45.9%

The results were grim, but not surprising, as Keeneland opened its January horses of all ages sale in Lexington during a time of worldwide economic downturns. The gross revenue Jan. 12 plummeted 44% from the auction's first session in 2008 while the average price dropped 45.9%. The median price suffered the most damage, falling 50.9%.

It didn't help Keeneland's bottom line when Azeri, the 2002 Horse of the Year, failed to sell for a final bid of $4.4 million.

"It's a very tough market, but if you've got some quality, you can get your horses sold," said Duncan Taylor of Taylor Made Sales Agency. "I don't really think it's any worse than it was in November (during the 2008 Keeneland breeding stock sale). Some of the cheaper stuff here might have gotten hammered worse at the beginning because everybody was feeling each other out and the sale started off damn soft. But since some of the better stuff has gone through, the market seems pretty fair."

The 202 horses that sold grossed $11,945,900 and averaged $59,138. The median was $27,000. Last year, 195 horses were sold during the first session for a gross of $21,325,900 and an average of $109,364. The median was $55,000.

The buy-back rate fell from 33% in 2008 to 26.5% this year.

"Talking to consignors and buyers, there were some good surprises, and I think people thought the sale performed to their expectations," said Keeneland director of sales Geoffrey Russell. "People brought their horses here to sell, and the not sold rate has gone down. Given the current global economic situation, people have adjusted their expectations (downward) and traded their horses. Obviously we would have preferred it if Azeri had sold, but she didn't."

Michael Paulson, saying Azeri was "like part of the family," bought back the 11-year-old Jade Hunter mare out of stakes winner Zodiac Miss (by Ahonoora). Last year, Paulson set a world Thoroughbred auction record when he bought back Azeri's s first foal, Vallenzeri (by 1992 Horse of the Year A.P. Indy), for $7.7 million at the Keeneland September yearling auction.

Azeri won Eclipse Awards as champion older female in 2002, 2003, and 2004.

The Keeneland January sale runs through Jan. 17, with sessions beginning each day at 10 a.m. (EST).

(Originally published at

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About the Author

Deirdre Biles

Deirdre Biles is the Bloodstock Sales Editor for The Blood-Horse magazine.

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