By Bill Oppenheim
In last year's three-day Book 1, 607 yearlings were catalogued, of which 346 were listed sales, for a gross of $120 million (average $347,471). Two years ago, in 2015, there were 724 catalogued, of which 443 sold (average $303,072). Yesterday, from 167 yearlings catalogued in the new-look Book 1, 95 sold for $54,175,000, averaging an incredible $570,263–it was truly a blockbuster sale. Keeneland wanted to create an extra-special day of selling, and they succeeded.
Eleven yearlings by Tapit grossed $12,825,000 (23% of the day's receipts) and averaged $1,165,909, including the sister to Cupid, who brought $2.7 million from M. V. Magnier, and two colts who brought $2.6 million and $2.5 million from Mandy Pope's Whisper Hill Farm and Shadwell Estate, respectively. War Front accounted for another 18% of the gross, with 12 yearlings grossing $9,550,000, averaging $795,853, and including four yearlings (two colts and two fillies) which sold for between $1-2m. Together the two titans of the North American breeding industry accounted for 41% of the gross and averaged $972,876, including seven of yesterday's eight seven-figure yearlings. The other was the Medaglia d'Oro filly out of Sealy Hill, who brought $1.25-million.
Five more sires had three or more sell and averaged over $500,000: Giant's Causeway (3/$733,333); Medaglia d'Oro (7/$619.286); Scat Daddy (7/$515,714); Candy Ride (5/$510,000); and Pioneerof the Nile (8/$504,375). Combined, those five sires had 30 yearlings sell for a total of $16,530,000 and an average of $551,000. So that's a total of seven sires which averaged $500,000+ and had three or more sell, for a total of 53 yearlings which brought $38,905,000, an average of $734,056. Those eight sires accounted for 56% of the yearlings sold, and 72% of the gross. The other 42 yearlings which sold didn't do so badly, either, averaging $363,571.
There's no other way to read it than that Keeneland's move to a one-day 'elite of the elite' Book 1 was a fantastic success. Yesterday's average equated to 45% of last year's entire Book 1, which covered three days. That the two top sires averaged near enough to $1-million, and the top eight sires averaged $734,056 completely vindicates Keeneland's format change. The Kentucky sales really don't do 'electric' any more, but the fact there was a sustained day of selling which averaged $570,263 is a great result. We have no idea yet what that might mean in comparison to previous years, as another 1,036 yearlings are catalogued over the next three days, but if 60% of the yearlings catalogued sell for an average between $150,000 – $200,000, Book 2 will gross somewhere between $90-120m.
We'll be back on Saturday with a more complete rundown after Book 2.