The Lexington Selected Yearling Sale concluded Saturday with new records in all categories — gross, average, median and number of yearlings sold for $100,000 or more.
by Dave Briggs
After 25 years of managing yearling sales at the Fasig-Tipton Pavilion, Randy Manges has never witnessed an auction as gratifying as the 2017 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale which smashed records in all categories — gross ($36,410,000), average ($58,537), median ($42,000) and number of yearlings that sold for $100,000 or more (103).
“It has been a very fun sale to watch,” Manges said of the sale, which he manages with David Reid. “Dave and I put a lot of time and effort into it. This has been my 25th sale here and it’s been very rewarding. I’ve never had one where I felt better about the sale.”
Reid was similarly pleased with the results.
“It’s the highest grossing sale since the merger, since Lexington Selected was formed by the merger of Tattersalls Yearling Sale and the Kentucky Standardbred Sale in 2005,” Reid said. “It’s very satisfying for everybody within the company, I can assure you of that. It takes support from your breeders and support from your buyers. The record speaks for itself in the number of major stakes winners that the sale produces.”
In the final session, 87 yearlings grossed $2,341,000 combined. The session average of $26,908 was up 29.1 per cent over the 2016 final session average of $20,841.
For the complete sale, 622 yearlings grossed $36,410,000. The gross surpassed last year’s total of $32,262,000 by 12.9 per cent. The previous record gross for the sale was set in 2007 which had total sales of $35,648,962 when 791 yearlings were sold. This year’s gross exceeded the previous record by 2.1 per cent despite 169 fewer horses being sold this year than in 2007.
Last year’s sale, which was dominated by progeny of Muscle Hill and Somebeachsomewhere, set the previous record average of $56,304. This year’s average of $58,537 beat that by 4 per cent.
“I thought last year’s numbers were going to be unattainable,” said Bob Brady of Kentuckiana, the sale’s second leading consignor by gross ($4,790,000) behind Reid’s Preferred Equine ($8,191,000). “You had the big opening night (this year), but I thought it’s been a very, very good sale. The median price has been very, very strong. They are getting value with every horse that we sell.”
The number of yearlings that sold for $100,000 or more was 103 this year, up 33.8 per cent from the previous record of 77 set last year.
The median of $42,000 was up 5 per cent from the previous record of $40,000 set last year.
“With the median up and the number of $100,000 yearlings up, I believe the buyers’ list was not as dominated by certain players. It was more spread out to more consignments and, hopefully, it will bear fruit for multiple levels of breeders that participating in selling here this week,” Reid said. “And, more importantly, for the buyers purchasing horses here, we just really wish them the best of luck and I hope to be reading about the graduates next year. That’s really what the sale is built on.”
Brady called it, “a great sale. We are very happy with the numbers overall and the individuals matched the prices. We had a very good consignment. We had a lot more horses here and people responded by bidding.”
Steve Stewart of Hunterton Farms, which ranked third on the consignors’ list in gross sales with $4,484,000, said he thought this year’s sale, “was stronger throughout than it was last year.”
Hunterton not only led all consignors in gross sales on the final night with $578,000 total for 12 yearlings, they sold the final session topper when Ed James’ S S G Stables of North Boston, NY paid $300,000 for a black Mcardle colt out of Miss Scarlett named Roughcut.
“To sell a horse for $300,000 tonight, it just shows the depth of the catalogue, which we’ve been saying all along,” Reid said.
Manges said the sale has never been close to selling a yearling for that much money during the last session in prior years.
“It was way more than Steve (Stewart) was thinking, too,” Manges said.The buzz over at his consignment was that, ‘We’ve got one that’s going to bring over $100,000 tonight.’ And, of course, that colt of Carter (Duer’s) was an exceptional colt and he brought $115,000. He was a very nice colt and I was very happy for Carter.”
Duer’s Peninsula Farm sold an Uncle Peter colt out of Bavaria named Fred The Bread for $115,000 to Al Libfeld.
Manges said he was thrilled with last year’s sale, but this year was just that much better.
“We work off of commission, so that gross number is very important to my company,” Manges said, “but it’s important to me that the money gets spread around to the individual consignors so they can go home and buy new mares. I haven’t seen the book yet, but if Harrisburg has any kind of a broodmare selection to their sale, well, there’s people with money now. They might have a hellacious mixed sale at Harrisburg if they have the right kind of mares there.”
The diversity of sires with progeny in this year’s sale was a major theme thanks to the first crops of Trixton, Father Patrick, Captaintreacherous, Sweet Lou, Sunshine Beach, Royalty For Life, Uncle Peter and E L Titan. But Manges said an every bigger storyline was the fact every consignor — from small to large — sold a high-priced horse.
‘Every consignor is walking away happy. I don’t have any consignors, that I can think of, that didn’t have a good sale,” Manges said.
“I know the guys at Hickory Lane and they are happy as hell because most of the high-priced horses tonight were from stallions that they stand,. The small consignors like Saga Farms and Dunroven and Midland Acres, they were selling their horses for $20,000 and $25,000 other years, which might have been an okay price for what they had, but this year Midland Acres sold one for over $200,000. Saga Farms sold one for $140,000. Anvil and Lace, a four-horse consignor, sold one for $140,000. Dunroven sold one for $100,000. All-American sold five horses here and one or two sold for over $100,000.
“Bob Boni has had good years here and then he’s had years when he didn’t even come close to selling a $100,000 horse. This year, he sold the highest-price horse in the sale ($480,000 Muscle Hill—Sina filly named Beautiful Sin on the second night of the sale) from less than a 20-horse consignment.
“Steve Stewart has done a great job and he always has a good sale here. Bob Brady usually has a good sale here. Dave (Reid) usually has a good sale here, so I don’t usually worry about them. Diamond Creek usually has some big numbers… But these little guys, they are the meat and potatoes of the sale. So I was very happy with the sale for that very reason. I want all of my people to do well.”
Manges said the final night of the sale is reserved mostly for regional horses, but the growth of most programs in the midwest helped propel the complete sale to record heights.
“It worked out terrific because the Ohio market is great, the Indiana market is great and those horses sold exceptionally well (on the final night),” Manges said.
Reid said the sale was successful partly because it is held at the right place at the right time.
“Offering a venue the week of Grand Circuit, I think there is the Lexington experience and it’s true and steady,” Reid said. “Everyone is here and you get a great foreign influx, Canadian influx. There’s a great mixture of everyone in the industry, who comes down for the sale for a week or so. You’ve got regional buyers that shuffle in and out. Tonight, there were regional sires in here and the crowd and energy were great.”
Stewart said it’s a very good time to be a horse breeder.
“Four or five years ago, I made the comment ‘the greatest investment that you could make anywhere is in standardbred horse sales or broodmares.’ When I first said that, people looked at me like I had four heads, like, ‘What?’ When I said it two years ago, they looked at me like I had two heads and now when I say it, they see one (head). I think it’s been very true,” Stewart said.
“(My wife) Cindy and I have invested our entire life. We don’t have a boat, we don’t have a house on the lake, we don’t have a house in Florida,” Stewart said. “We’ve literally taken every penny we’ve ever made and bought broodmares and that’s the last 40 years. And now we’re at a point when we’re going to sit back and enjoy it. We’re going to reap what we’ve sowed. It’s a wonderful situation for us and a wonderful feeling as I drive to the sale right now… The future looks very bright for us and the other breeders.”
Reid said he wants to send the consignors and the buyers a personal thanks for supporting the sale.
“I just thank everyone for coming to Lexington and supporting the sale and the experience,” Reid said. “Things are on the rise here in Kentucky. The Sires Stakes program is going to be strong in the future and there’s a lot of good stuff going on now. I just hope racing opportunities continue to be strong and the jurisdictions don’t battle any political pushback. If we stay status quo or maybe even gain a stride or two for stake races down the road, we just need to keep the eye on the ball and keep improving the breed, keep improving the industry, anything we can do for the overall health of the industry. That’s a goal that a lot of people have in mind, but anything we can do here at the sales company, we always try to lend a helping hand.”
What does a record-smashing Lexington sale indicate about the marketplace?
“I think (the market is) strong,” Manges said, “and I think people are leaving with good horses. I think the London sale will be good. I think Harrisburg will be good. I think it’s a real good indication of the market and shows that it’s strong. I don’t know what could happen to make it not strong for those sales. If they are good horses, they are going to sell very well. That’s what happened here, the good horses sold very well.”