The final session of the Keeneland November Breeding Stick Sale finished up on Sunday with higher numbers than last year.
The November sale had 2,667 horses sold over a period of 12 days for $200,139,400. The gross was up 1.2 percent compared to last year’s $197,851,300 for 2,655 horses. The sale average rose by 0.3 percent to $75,043, with a median of $25,000.
There was a total of 686 horses unsold, and an RNA rate of 20.5 percent. The number was lower than in 2018 when 810 horses went unsold, resulting in a rate of 23.5 percent.
The 12th session saw 117 head sold for $523,900, a 4.4 percent decline from 2018 when 119 horses went for $547,900. The average declined 2.7 percent to $4,478, and the median dropped 12 percent to $2,200. The RNA rate was 27.8 percent.
The highest price of the sale was commanded by Hip 4390, a $30,000 Scat Daddy mare named True to You consigned by Vinery Sales. The horse was bred in Florida by H&A Stables and Annie Scott out of the Yes It’s True mare April True. The 7-year-old True to You was purchased by Machmer Hall.
Hip 4281 was the highest-selling weanling of the session, purchased for $24,000 by Kristy McDermott, agent, from the consignment of Taylor Made Sales Agency. Bred in Kentucky by Warlock Stables, Barrett, Myrick, and Hansen, the Pontiff filly is out of the Midnight Lute mare Midnight Hope.
Geoffrey Russel, Keeneland’s director of sales operations, spoke about the November sale.
“Like any market, you have an upper end, and you’ve got a lower end,” Russel said. “The cost to keeping a horse in training on a horse farm or whatever, it’s the same regardless if it’s a million-dollar horse or a thousand-dollar horse. It’s pure economics.
“I mean, people are going to say it’s not worth buying that because the return on my investment isn’t very good. People want to buy quality. We’re talking to consignors this week, and everyone is making the same comment: ‘We’re selling these mares because we just want to be in this part of the market. Upper, upper middle, that’s where we want to play. We do not want to be at the lower end.’
“So you’re seeing it just drift. It runs in cycles. It just costs a lot of money to keep a horse. You’ve got to stop the meter and sell them.”
The final sessions saw a few big offerings, including champion Take Charge Brandi (Hip 111), purchased by Hell ‘n’ Dale at Xalapa during the Nov. 6 opening session. The mare, consigned by Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency as agent for the Elevage Dispersal, was offered in foal to Justify, the Triple Crown Winner.
Bob Elliston, Keeneland’s director of racing and sales, spoke on the depth of the sale.
“We had a good bit of depth up front,” Elliston said. “I think that’s why we carry significant growth over last year in Book 1. As we got into Books 2, 3, and 4, we had a lot of good horses, but maybe we didn’t have as deep a number of each of those horses in those sessions, relatively speaking, and I think that’s why we had solid trade against last year, but we didn’t carry that 15 percent growth. You’ve got to have a good horse. There’s no question about that.”