Keeneland January Sale Stays Steady on Day Three

Monday RNA Star Act sold post-sale Wednesday for $1.2 million | Keeneland

by Jessica Martini & Stefanie Grimm

LEXINGTON, KY – The Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale continued into its second half Wednesday in Lexington with a session which, while significantly smaller, produced results largely in line with its 2023 counterpart.

For the session, 196 horses sold for a gross of $4,352,900. The average of $22,209 was down 2.54% from last year's corresponding session, while the median of $10,000 was up 25%. From 316 catalogued horses, 242 horses were offered and 46 failed to meet their reserves for a buy-back rate of 19.01%.

During the third session of the 2023 auction, 246 horses sold for $5,605,700. The session average was $22,787 and the median was $8,000. The buy-back rate was 17.45%.

Marvelous Time (Distorted Humor), who sold just minutes into Wednesday's session, brought the day's top price when selling for $220,000 to Centofanti Thoroughbreds, as agent for Brittlyn Stables.

The session topper was one of 17 sold for $1,103,000 during what has become an annual offering of mares from Godolphin, making Sheikh Mohammed's operation the day's leading consignor.

A filly from the first crop of Yaupon brought the top price for a short yearling Wednesday when selling for $150,000 to Crestwood Farm.

Through three of four sessions, 626 horses have grossed $35,949,600 and the average of $57,427 is just 0.79% off the 2023 figure. The median of $22,000 is down 18.52%.

“I'm more than happy with the market,” said Hunter Valley's Adrian Regan. “I think there was a bit of doom and gloom from some people coming in that it was going to be tough going, but in fairness, it was pretty good. If you had the right foal and it vetted clean and everything, you got a lot of money for it. They sold very well. Overall, it was better than expected, I would say.”

A horse awaits a turn in the ring | Keeneland

Consignors agreed quality offerings continued to be in demand at Keeneland this week.

“Horses with quality are still fairly easy to sell,” said Brian Graves of Gainesway, which consigned the $1.6-million sale-topping Prank (Into Mischief) during Monday's first session of the auction. “And then anything that even hints at not being every bit of that is correcting. Anything that is not 100% quality or top shelf, it looks like it's correcting.”

Graves said he has also observed less activity than normal in the back ring.

“It seems like there is not a lot of back ring participants, so if you didn't have it done at the barn, you weren't going to get any help,” he said. “There weren't a ton of people standing around here just buying horses out of the back ring for anything significant.”

On the other side of the ledger, Graves has been active as a buyer in the pinhooking sphere where he admitted he was vying for that very quality, while also casting a wary eye on potential market conditions next fall.

“We focus on quality [when we buy],” Graves said. “That's what we focus on. It's a battle to get your hands on that and once you've gotten your hands on that, you have to worry a little bit wondering if these other signs that we are seeing are a hint of what is coming down the road.”

Meg Levy, whose Bluewater Sales sold the $650,000 Kaling (Practical Joke) Monday, said demand for quality lots significantly helped to drive up prices for those offerings.

“I feel like quality will out,” Levy said. “The buyers are willing to pay more for the perceived commercial quality, particularly in the yearlings, I have noticed. We had Kaling sell very well here, which we were pleased about. But it just seems like everybody is willing to pay up to a third more for what they perceive to be the right stuff. And the middle market is still suffering. It's very difficult.”

Levy speculated that some of the weakening in the foal market might be traced back to the vet reports.

“There is kind of a gap selling some of these yearlings where we are using the vet reports as a marketing tool to help the buyers,” she said. “But honestly, so many of them don't understand reports and they don't use a veterinarian, so that ends up hurting things.”

The Keeneland January sale concludes Thursday with a session beginning at 10 a.m.

Sikura, Dorman Team Up for Star Act

The Keeneland January sale got its third seven-figure horse when Hill 'n' Dale at Xalapa's John Sikura and Determined Stud's Matt Dorman partnered up to purchase Star Act (Street Cry {Ire}) (hip 144) for $1.2 million. The 13-year-old mare, dam of GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Just F Y I (Justify), was originally led out unsold at $950,000 during the auction's first session Monday.

Star Act | Keeneland

“She is a class mare,” Dorman said Wednesday. “She's a Grade I producer. She has a phenomenal horse who is three-for-three and primed for next year. John Sikura has always been a great business partner. It just worked out as a good opportunity.”

Dorman said the mare, who is in foal to Life Is Good and was consigned by Hill 'n' Dale on behalf of George Krikorian, was on his radar Monday, but after Prank (Into Mischief) sold for $1.6 million earlier in the session, he assumed Star Act would be out of his price range.

“When I saw the horse go for $1.6 million, I thought she would be too much,” Dorman said. “I work with David Ingordo now. So Dave and I had a long conversation about the broodmare band and what we are doing. And after [Star Act] RNA'd, we decided that the horse made sense at this number. So we reached out to John and Donato [Lanni]. And we called back and forth and it evolved into John and I buying the horse. Donato and the owner have a long-standing relationship with John and respect John, so it worked out well.” @JessMartiniTDN

Marvelous Time Makes Trip Worthwhile for Centofanti

Bloodstock agent Raffaele Centofanti made the trip up from Ocala to find a specific mare for Evelyn Benoit's Brittlyn Stable and, mission accomplished, he was heading back south having purchased Marvelous Time (Distorted Humor) (hip 845) for $220,000 early in Wednesday's third session of the Keeneland January sale. Bred and consigned by Godolphin, the 4-year-old is a daughter of Grade I-placed Folk (Quiet American).

“We were looking for that Quiet American line,” Centofanti said of the mare's appeal. “They are hard to find. You can't find them usually that young–she's only four. It's such a great female line. To get her that young and with that broodmare sire, she checked all the boxes basically. She had everything physically, as well. She is 16.2, with a classy look and a great walk. She looks like a Distorted Humor, but she had the size. She had everything I liked physically.”

Marvelous Time | Keeneland

Marvelous Time made just one racetrack appearance, winning her debut at Presque Isle Downs in 2022 for trainer Mike Stidham. The bay mare is a half-sister to graded-placed Captivating Lass (A.P. Indy), who produced Grade I winner Atone (Into Mischief). She sold Wednesday in foal to Mystic Guide.

“I probably appraised her at a little less than that, but when I came and saw her, I thought we needed around $200,000 to buy her,” Centofanti said. “I think she was worth that.”

Marvelous Time will remain in Kentucky to foal and then will head south to Brittlyn Stable's Louisiana base to visit either Star Guitar or Clearly Now.

“We are debating where we will go with her,” Centofanti said. “We are trying to bring some quality back to Star and Clearly Now. We've been doing it the last two years and we've got some nice babies coming up.”

Centofanti said the plan has been to upgrade the Brittlyn broodmare band as mares get older and are rotated out. The results are showing up on the race track and in the sales ring.

“We've been selling the last three years,” he said. “We sold a couple of Star Guitars for six figures at Keeneland that went on to win big races–one won in Dubai a couple of weeks ago out of Charged Cotton (Dehere). And we have a Not This Time we will sell in September and she is beautiful.”

The Brittlyn-bred Manama Gold (Star Guitar), a Louisiana-bred out of Charged Cotton, sold for $100,000 at the 2022 Keeneland September sale and resold for $200,000 at the 2023 OBS April sale. The filly broke her maiden stylishly at Meydan Dec. 22 for Fawzi Abdulla Nass.

“We've been rotating between Kentucky and Louisiana sires,” Centofanti said. “[Benoit] loves racing and she loves Louisiana. And this way we can continue and we've had success doing that. Our horses are running and doing well.”

Marvelous Time was the only horse Centofanti bid on at Keeneland and he was ready to head back south.

“I have to go to Ocala,” he said. “I have a bunch of horses for her that we are breaking. So I've got to get back there.” @JessMartiniTDN

Yaupon Yearling to Crestwood Farm

Not long into the third session of the Keeneland January sale, Crestwood Farm and Robert Keck went to $150,000 for hip 926, a filly from the first crop of Yaupon.

“She had an amazing body, great bones and a standout pedigree for this session,” said Keck. “She'll be resold in September.”

Hip 926 | Keeneland

Spendthrift Farm's Yaupon has seen his yearlings sell well this week, all five sold going for over six figures, led by a $190,000 colt (hip 82) who sold Monday to Clarmont Bloodstock Club.

“Hopefully that sire is as hot as people are predicting,” Keck continued. “I knew that [Yaupons were selling well], but looked at her as an objective buyer. People don't pay enough attention sometimes to where a horse comes from and I liked that she was raised by Clarkland Farm, they raise a great horse.”

Bred and consigned by Clarkland Farm, the filly is a daughter of MSW Tiz Imaginary (Tizway), who was purchased by the farm for $180,000 out of the 2019 Keeneland November sale. This is the family of champion 2-year-old filly Flanders (Seeking the Gold) and her champion daughter Surfside (Seattle Slew). @SGrimmTDN

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