After four nights in Lexington, average on par with 2018, gross ahead of 2017

Yes, the pandemic sale is down 20 per cent in gross and average compared to a record 2019 sale, but look closer and the four-day average of $56,495 is on par with 2018 and the cumulative sale gross of more than $36.6 million is ahead of 2017.

quotes by James Platz / story by Dave Briggs

The Lexington Selected Yearling Sale is down 20 per cent after Thursday’s fourth session, but when you consider the 2019 sale was off the charts, the 2020 sale is being held during a pandemic, the cumulative average is on par with 2018 and this year’s gross through four nights is actually ahead of 2017, 2016 and 2015, the numbers are impressive.

“I think the sale is good and we’re just very lucky to actually have a sale,” said Randy Manges, who manages the sale with David Reid.

Through four sessions, the sale is averaging $56,495. That’s down 18 per cent from the 2019 average through four sessions of $68,738, but down just 0.3 per cent from the four-day average of $56,652 in 2018.

“The thing we have to keep reminding ourselves is that last year’s sale was one for the record books,” Reid said. “At the end of (tonight’s) session, we’ll have to go back to 2018, 2017 and it will measure up to being a very good sale, in light of the pandemic.”

Manges said the four-day average of $54,495 is “a little more encouraging,” and was excited about the prospects for tonight’s final session which features regional horses from Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.

“There’s a large number of horses that would’ve sold last night… I think the regional sale will be good,” Manges said.

Thursday’s session grossed $3,704,000 for 169 yearlings sold to make the four-day cumulative sale gross $36,609,000. That’s down by 20 per cent over 2019’s complete sale gross of $45,511,000, down 8 per cent from the 2018 gross of $39,770,000, but up 0.5 per cent from the 2017 gross of $36,410,000. The gross was $29,031,000 in 2015 and $32,262,000 in 2016.

“You just have to keep pinching yourself and remember where we were at the beginning of the year, where we were in the summer and where we are now,” Reid said. “We’re $36 million or $37 million in gross sales. People take that number lightly, but I think that’s a very important number to keep the trade going in the business and having a marketplace.”

The sale average on Thursday alone was $21,917, down 20 per cent from the fourth-session average of $27,268 in 2019, down 5.8 per cent from the 2018 fourth-day average of $23,258 and down 26 per cent from the 2017 fourth-session average of $29,629.

“The deeper you get into the market and the quality of the horses, it’s becoming a little more challenging, I think,” Reid said. “That being said, every session we get through is one more positive for the sale.”

Online bidders through Proxibid, purchased 23 yearlings on Thursday for a total of $428,000. Through four days, online bidders have accounted for $1.9 million in sales.

“This was an unusual year due to Coronavirus and all the different things that we had to do. Proxibid helped because it was difficult for people to travel and some people refused to travel, but it was good,” Manges said.

The median for the fourth session was $20,000 and is $37,000 through four sale days.

The session was much faster than previous nights and concluded just after 11 p.m.

No horses hit $100,000 or more in Thursday’s session, meaning the total of $100,000+ yearlings through four sessions remains at 101, which compares to 121 through four nights in 2019 and 124 through four nights in 2018.

Hip #623 On Cloud Seven (c, Chapter Seven—Dream Baby Dream) technically topped the session, but was an RNA for Kentuckiana at $75,000.

The highest-priced yearling that changed hands was Hip #637 Fight Song, a Kadabra colt out of Fortunes Of Fables sold by Cane Run Farm, agent, to David Anderson and John Fielding of Ontario for $72,000.

That yearling was followed by two that sold for $65,000 each: Hip #556 Bethereinaprosecco (f, Bar Hopping—Thankful Reward) that sold to JB Racing of Freehold out of Kentuckiana’s consignment and Hip #577 Unity In One (c, Cantab Hall—Southwind Adele) that sold to Jenny Melander, agent, by Hunterton, agent.

“The video was a nice video,” Melander said. “I went to look at the horse and it was a very good-looking horse. The breeding with the Muscle Hill as the grandfather, I thought was really nice to have. The horse itself is a great individual and it looks like more of a Muscle Hill than a Cantab, really.”

Melander said the COVID-19 pandemic has forced her to buy fewer yearlings this year.

“I’ll be at this sale, then also at the Black Book sale. That’s about it for me. This year, we’re not going to have as many babies due to Corona,” Melander said. “A lot of my owners are smaller owners with small businesses. As they are struggling, there’s just not enough money to go for the yearlings. We’re looking forward to having more racehorses than yearlings next year and just hope that we can recover after that and get back more into a yearling game.

“I’m glad that we at least got a couple of yearlings tonight and we’re hopeful we’ll get a few more.”

Reid’s Preferred Equine still holds a wide lead over other consignors with $7,844,000 in total sales from 132 yearlings. Kentuckiana is next with $5,669,000 and Hunterton is third with $5,190,000.

“I think it’s been a very, very strong sale for what we’re selling,” said Hunterton’s Steve Stewart. “To me, you can’t look at averages a lot of times, you have to look at what’s selling. So, if you’re selling something that you think is worth $20,000 and it brings $35,000, well maybe that’s not a great average, but it’s a whole lot more than you anticipated. It’s kind of like having a racehorse that finished third and everybody else is picking you to finish seventh, so it feels like a big win. It’s kind of like that, in a way.

“We sold one for $4,000 (Thursday) and that’s what he was worth. He might have been worth a little more… but we also sold the highest-price horse in the sale (Hip #89 Kadena — $725,000) and we probably sold the cheapest one, but we do that every year. It doesn’t bother me. A lot of people worry about their averages… It’s not like we attempt to sell a cheap horse, but we’re not worried. Horses need to be sold and some are better than others.”

By average, with three or more sold, Concord Stud with an average of $124,357 for 14 sold. It is followed by All American Harnessbreds ($91,333 for nine sold), Blue Chip Farms LLC ($77,273 for 11 sold) and Brittany Farms LLC ($74,933 for 15 sold).

Through four sessions, Andy Miller is the sale’s leading buyer with $2,293,000 spent, in total, on 19 yearlings. Nancy Takter is second through three days with $1,628,000 spent on 14 yearlings, followed by Ake Svanstedt ($1,482,000 on 12 yearlings) and Burke Racing Stable ($1,068,000 on 13 yearlings).

Tonight’s fifth and final session of the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale will feature 170 yearlings. It begins tonight at 7 p.m. at Fasig-Tipton.

“From a sales company point of view, I think after (tonight’s) session we’re really going to take a deep breath and be thankful for the week that we had and that’s a shout out to everybody – to the buyers, to the sellers, to the crew, to the auction staff, office staff. It’s not an easy thing to do, to pull an auction together with adding different features and new technology. It was a big challenge and, through four nights, we’ve been successful so far,” Reid said.

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