It’s taken a decade, but the yearling Thoroughbred market is back.
Keeneland’s September yearling sale, which ended Saturday, topped $300 million in sales for the first time since 2008 and set new records for average and median prices.
The 12-day sale grossed $307,845,400, a 12.81 percent increase over last year’s 13-day sale. In all, 2,555 horses sold; cumulative average price was $120,487, up 23.27 percent. The median price of $57,000 was 42.50 percent higher than last year’s median of $40,000.
This year, 13 horses sold for $1 million or more;. The top seller was a filly by leading sire Tapit, who sold for $2.7 million to M.V. Magnier on the first day of the sale. She is a fully sister to Grade 1 winner Cupid and was consigned by VanMeter-Gentry Sales.
“The September sale exceeded expectations in every aspect,” said Bob Elliston, Keeneland vice president of racing and sales, in a news release. “The sales grounds were electric from day one and that enthusiasm to buy racehorses never waned, even into the final days of the sale.”
This year’s sale debuted a new format that featured a premium Book 1 that also launched Keeneland’s bonus program to reward sellers and buyers of horses that go on to win top races around the world.
While the auction drew buyers from around the world, including Europe, the top buyer for the second year in a row and the fifth time in the last eight years was Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Shadwell Estate Company. Shadwell bought 17 yearlings for $12,475,000, including a $2.5 million Tapit colt.
Also for the second year in a row, Tapit was the September sale’s leading sire by average price. His 17 yearlings averaged $960,000, according to Keeneland, the highest since 2006.
The top consignor for the third year in a row was Taylor Made Sales Agency, which sold 270 horses for $38,679,400, including a Tapit colt that sold for $2.6 million to Whisper Hill Farm.
“The format changed the vibe of the sale throughout in a good way,” said Mark Taylor vice president of marketing and public sales for Taylor Made, in a statement. Many buyers were shut out of the horses they sought early on and that drove up demand later in the sale, he indicated.
“The horse industry, we have some struggles, but this was a real shot in the arm, the way this sale has gone,” Taylor said.