The annual Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale ended Sunday with declines in gross, average price and median price despite strong sales at the top end of the market.
The 13-day sale grossed slightly over $215 million for 2,653 horses, a slight dip from last year, when 2,575 horses sold for nearly $219 million over 12 days.
The cumulative average of $81,121 was down 4.6 percent from last year, and the median of $25,000 was down 16.67 percent, despite the sale of 19 horses for more than $1 million each, including 2010 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic winner Unrivaled Belle for $3.8 million.
In foal to top sire Tapit, Unrivaled Belle was the most expensive Thoroughbred sold at public auction this year, according to Keeneland. She was bought by Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm, which was the leading buyer by gross with $7.2 million in purchases, plus another horse bought for $950,000 in partnership with Gainesway.
The leading buyer by number of horses was Korea’s K.O.I.D, which bought 63 horses for almost $1.5 million.
The leading consignor was Lane’s End Farm, which sold 265 horses, including the dispersal of Conquest Stables, for $26 million.
The early books of the sale were strong, but Keeneland officials noted a downturn in the final days of the sale.
Consignor Craig Bandoroff of Denali Stud echoed that concern. “We had a very good sale in books 1 and 2,” he said in the news release. “Once you got to book 4, to me it was like somebody popped a balloon. I would say the market is a lot thinner than you’d like it to be. It’s bad (for breeders) because you’re not covering costs on horses. … Our business is good. I’m not a doom-and-gloomer by any means. But there are definitely some signs on the horizon that this (market) is not healthy all the way through.”