Once again, the Keeneland September yearling sale has produced an unforgettable moment for Francis and Barbara Vanlangendonck.
Twenty four years after the Florida-based couple became engaged during the September auction, their Summerfield sales agency notched a long-awaited milestone Wednesday when they consigned their first-ever seven-figure horse, a dark bay daughter of Medaglia d'Oro that sold for $1.3 million to Charlotte Weber's Live Oak Plantation to top the third session.
Since forming Summerfield in 1994, the Vanlangendoncks have carved out a reputation as some of the most respected consignors in the marketplace, consistently topping the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. auctions in Florida.
Shortly after Weber's representatives signed the ticket for the Medaglia d'Oro filly, Barbara Vanlangendonck made it clear just how much their latest achievement resonated.
"Are you kidding? It's like winning a Grade I race," she exclaimed. "We've topped the Fasig-Tipton July sale ... we've topped the OBS sale almost every year but we've never had a session topper like this. "But if ever we thought we had a shot, this filly was it. This is so much fun."
Bred by Gilbert Campbell, the session-topping filly — who is just the fourth horse to be sold for $1 million or more at this year's sale — is out of the winning mare Beaties for Real and is a half sister to graded-stakes winners Friel's for Real and Ryan's for Real.
"She's an obvious filly. She passed all the tests," said Bruce Hill, general manger of Live Oak. "She's a pretty, strong filly, well balanced and you can certainly say she's elegant. The market is what it is but for us (the price) was at our max. That's the furthest we could go."
Unfortunately for the Vanlangendoncks, there were few other consignors who felt like celebrating on Wednesday.
The hole created for the Keeneland sale after its brutal select sessions hasn't gotten much better as overall totals continue to tell a disheartening tale.
In addition to the gross of $91,474,000 being down 44.28 percent compared with the $164,164,000 generated this time last year, the rate of horses not sold remains lofty at 36.48 percent with 122 horses failing to meet their reserve on Wednesday alone.
The average of $202,825 and median of $150,000 were down 29.58 and 31.82 percent, respectively.
"It's reality," said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland's director of sales. "For years we knew this day was going to come. What was unknown was the fact the financial crash of last year was going to exaggerate it all. It's the perfect storm: financial crisis matched with overproduction. Here we are."