The Lexington Selected Yearling Sale concluded Saturday with records for gross, average, median and number of six-figure yearlings sold — and topped the previous best gross by more than $10 million. In all, the sale set 18 sales records, including surpassing $5 million for the first time in a final session.
quotes by James Platz / story by Dave Briggs
The 2021 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale concluded Saturday night (Oct. 9) setting 18 records, including new standards for gross ($56,692,500), average ($65,692), median ($44,000) and number of yearlings sold for $100,000 or more (159).
The gross exceeded the previous record ($46,480,000 in 2019) by some $10 million or 22 per cent.
Each of the five sessions set a new record for gross sales.
The sale also set the following records:
First session gross: $18,540,000
First session average: $161,217
First session 100,000+: 69
Second session gross: $17,927,000
Second session average: $84,164
Second session 100,000+: 61
Third session gross: $10,169,000
Third session 100,000+: 20
Fourth session gross: $4,771,000
Fourth session average: $28,915
Fifth session gross: $5,285,500
Fifth session average: $35,713
Fifth session 100,000+: 7
Fifth session median: $28,500
“I think everybody used the word, ‘Wow’ so I’ll just piggyback on that,” said Diamond Creek owner Adam Bowden. “I think the market is good, the amount of money to race for is good, the stallions are good, the pedigrees were good and the physicals matched and people were happy to pay money for the good ones.”
Randy Manages, who manages the sale with David Reid, was philosophical about the results.
“This is my 29th sale. Of course, when I came to work here it was Kentucky Standardbred. When we merged the two sale companies, several years ago, I think that really helped everybody,” Manges said. “Obviously, we have some great farms in this area and that’s helped. Our breeders, they have always improved their broodmare bands, which helps us. I’m a big believer that the consignors have built the sale over the years. It’s probably been the last five years that it’s just progressed. When good things happen in the industry, it just seems to help us. We’ve really grown. We have a great group of people that come to the sale and participate in the sale. The last couple of years with COVID and everything, you would think that would hurt us, but with online bidding it was a big savior last year and it really stepped up this year also.”
Saturday’s session, which was made up of mostly Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky-breds, saw 148 yearlings sell for a total gross of $5,285,500 for an average of $35,713 and a median of $28,500. Seven yearlings reached $100,000 or more.
“It was very strong from top to bottom,” Manges said. “In fact, I was hoping we would progress the way it progressed and it worked out for us. There were a lot of guys that came in for our last two days and stayed. We had a good crowd right up until the last horse sold tonight, which is a very positive thing for the industry. I think it will carry through for the rest of the year. I think Harrisburg will have a good sale and some of the regional sales that have not taken place yet will feed off the good sale we’ve had. We seem to feed off – when all the sales are good, we seem to do even better.
“The Ohio Jug sale was good, the Goshen sale was good, the Canadian sale was good and they’ve got a virtual sale in Canada in a couple of weeks and I anticipate it will be good. I’m just happy for the industry. It’s a positive for the industry.”
Reid said he was delighted with the results.
“We averaged $35,000 tonight. That’s a record for the last night of the sale. It was up 20 per cent on the average from last year and 50 per cent over two years ago,” Reid said. “It’s just a phenomenal way to end the night.”
Manges added, “The one good thing about this sale, in particular, is that the breeders have great mares and when they get bred to those kind of horses that are in high demand then you see these high prices.”
DOWNBYTHESEASIDE COLT TOPS SESSION
The session topper was hip 757 Country Line Cred, a Downbytheseaside colt out of Tookaloo Hanover purchased for $230,000 by Diamond Creek Farm from Reid’s Preferred Equine consignment.
“For us, he was the best colt in the sale and we’ve made so much money with Seaside so far that we wanted to come here and buy what we thought was the best one. I’m happy to do that,” said Bowden.
Reid said the colt was bred and raised by Dr. Steve Dey from Heritage Farms in New Jersey.
“They’ve been around a long time. They sold a Downbytheseaside down here last year quite well. They are a small, boutique type of breeder. We brought three or four yearlings down here to pick the big spots and I’m very happy for their success. To see them come down here and maybe take a chance on my suggestion, then to sell the sales topper is awesome.”
Diamond Creek stands Downbytheseaside in Ohio at Sugar Valley Farm. Bowden said the success of the stallion at this year’s sale was expected.
“I don’t want to be cocky, but it was sort of expected that they were going to do well. Sea Silk winning last week, Pebble Beach, the sale in Ohio… I’m just thrilled. The horse has done it all and we’re riding the wave,” Bowden said.
Twenty-three Downbytheseasides were sold Saturday, grossing $1,789,000 for an average of $77,783.
“The top seven yearlings sold tonight were Downbytheseasides and they were all over $100,000. I just think that it’s great to see a young sire get off to a start like that,” Reid said.
Hunterton’s Steve Stewart said it was the right decision to sell all the Downbytheseasides on the final night.
“They wrote about whether they should have the Seasides sell earlier and absolutely not. You had Hannelore Hanover’s full-sister (sell earlier) and that’s fine. But I think the crowd was bigger tonight than it’s been all week almost. It’s a different crowd, which is important, but I don’t think there was hardly any of them that we were disappointed in all the way through. It was very rewarding,” Stewart said.
BURKE TOPS SATURDAY BUYERS
Ron Burke led all buyers on Saturday, spending $652,000 to buy nine yearlings, including three of the seven that sold for $100,000 or more — hip 854 Boardwalk Jack, a Downbytheseaside colt out of Restive Hanover for $130,000 from Winbak; hip 808 Act Fast, a Downbytheseaside colt out Act Like A Diva for $125,000 from All American and hip 761 Queen Of The South, a Downbytheseaside filly out of Vaquera Deo for $100,000 from Preferred Equine.
Burke said the attraction was the Ohio program.
“We didn’t get enough bought at the previous sale and we need a strong bunch to race as much as we like to race in Ohio, so it’s good for us to only ship a couple of hours a day to either of our farms. We’ve got the best young driver there and Chris (Page) does a great job educating them… it’s really been successful, so there was no way we weren’t going back,” Burke said.
As for Downbytheseaside in particular, Burke said having one race on the Grand Circuit is possible, “but the biggest thing is that we want to race in Ohio. The program is great and it’s set up that there’s plenty of races between the Sires Stakes, the state fair, the breeder’s championship… there’s plenty and you don’t need to worry about racing anywhere else.”
LUTHER’S MILLION-DOLLAR EXPERIMENT EXPANDS
Keeping it in Ohio, HRU also checked in with owner Greg Luther who last year launched his “million dollar experiment.” Luther said the experiment continues, but will be a little different in 2022.
“We had a great year so far this year, still some big races coming up. We’ve brought in a little over $2 million in purses, so that’s been fun and we’ve won some big races,” Luther said. “Obviously, Catch The Fire has been the star so we’ve had fun there and we’re starting to get into the breeding business as well. We’re buying a bunch of babies and I’ve got pretty close to 30 2-year-olds so far. The Harrisburg sale is still coming up and I’ll buy a bunch of broodmares, too, that we can breed to Catch The Fire.
“We’re Ohio, born and bred, ourselves so we’re trying to get as many Ohio-breds as we can… and, heck, they are starting to take the big stage, too. They are winning some Grand Circuit races.”
Overall, Luther said he’s purchased horses from Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, “so I better buy some more trucks and trailers.
“It’s been a lot of fun and obviously we’re going in pretty big. We’ve probably put another $2 million in so far this year, trying to hit the big time.
“I’m just trying to convince everyone to keep building barns for us, so we have enough space to store these things – I’m at 70 head now. I own 69-and-a-half of those. I only have half of Catch The Fire. That horse, he’s got so much fight in him and I’m hoping that goes on to his babies as well. So, we’re really going to go big on breeding him.”
PREFERRED LEADS CONSIGNORS
Reid’s Preferred Equine led all consignors with $8,128,000 in sales for 134 yearlings sold. In 2019, Preferred set a personal record for gross sales with $9,731,000 for 137 yearlings sold.
This year, Preferred was followed by Hunterton ($7,863,000 for 97 yearlings), Kentuckiana ($6,668,000 for 101 yearlings) and Diamond Creek ($3,610,000 for 47 yearlings).
“For Preferred Equine, I think we’re the leading consignor again, but that’s just a number,” Reid said. “The service to our clients and the service to the industry. We pride ourselves on making a professional presentation and hope it pays dividends for everybody. We hope our customers are satisfied and, more importantly, we appreciate their trust in us to sell their horses for them.”
Stewart said, “Hunterton Farm and our partners are being rewarded for us believing in the business for the last 10 years. When people were seeing Perretti going out of business and Yankeeland going out of business and so many others… Armstrong Brothers. A lot of people thought, ‘Oh, boy, those people must know something.’
“I always say that the breeder takes the biggest risk of anybody, because what we do now, we get paid three years from now. You’re really projecting success. It’s like the wine business where you’re projecting future profits. The people buying horses might get money back in nine months and that’s a big difference.”
Concord Stud led all consignors in average with $186,429 for seven sold. Hanover Shoe Farms was second in average ($155,100 for 20 yearlings sold), followed by Brittany Farms LLC ($115,542 for 24 sold).
TAKTER TOPS BUYERS, ALAGNA SECOND
Nancy Takter was the top buyer with $2,907,000 spent, in total, on 12 yearlings. Tony Alagna was second with $2,725,000 spent on 26 yearlings, followed by Steve Heimbecker ($2,342,000 on 19 yearlings) and Burke Racing Stable ($2,019,000 on 24 yearlings).
WALNER IS KING
Walner led all stallions in gross sales ($7,718,000) and average ($160,792) with three or more sold. The leading pacer by money and average was Captaintreacherous ($6,652,000 and $133,040).
Canadians accounted for $9,437,500 in sales or 16.6 per cent of the total. Europeans purchased $1,645,000 worth of yearlings or 2.9 per cent of the total, with Sweden strongly leading the way ($1,230,000).
“Now, as we always conclude, we just want these horses to go on and perform on the racetrack,” Reid said. “The Lexington sale has done that year after year. They give you Classic winners, Triple Crown winners, Hambletonian winners, Breeders Crown winners. We pride ourselves in selling winners and that’s basically the success of our sale.”