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Bill's Columns
December 28th, 2020
With the close of Goffs’ rescheduled November Mixed Sale on December 21, the European Mixed Sale marketplace finished off the 2020 North American and European sales season. With, ultimately, 24% fewer catalogued this year (1,033 from 1,352) and 25% fewer selling (656 from 873), Goffs suffered a 33% drop in gross, from €34.4-million last year to €23-million this year, though the average dropped just 11%, from €39,464 to €35,166, while the clearance rate from the catalogue dipped just 1%, from 64.6% to 63.5%.
December 14th, 2020
Ordinarily by this time of year we’re wrapping up the results of the European mixed sales which close out the annual North American and European auction marketplace, but of course this is no ordinary year, and the Goffs November Mixed Sale, originally scheduled to be held November 16-19, will now be held December 18-21, so we won’t be able to tally final totals for the auction market until then. But, following the trend that we’ve seen most of the year, gross sales have been off by around 20%, more a function of fewer top horses and pedigrees being offered than any fall in like-to-like prices.
November 30th, 2020
Over 11 days of selling, November 8-18, the combined Kentucky November market saw 2,428 horses sold for a gross of $238,052,300, an average of $98,045 and a $30-million (11%) decline in gross receipts from the corresponding 2019 sales. Considering that 14% fewer horses (4,092 from 4,769) were catalogued this year and 13% fewer sold (2,428 from 2,795), the overall average actually gained 2% from last year’s $95,939, and certainly the overall mood of the thoroughbred auction market, since the Tattersalls October yearling sale, has been one of great relief that the market is holding up much better than many feared.
November 16th, 2020
Hopefully the results of the first six days of Kentucky’s November sales (Fasig-Tipton Nov. 8 plus Keeneland Books 1-3, through November 13) prefigure a recovery in the world at large, because, very strikingly, gross revenues totalled $208,938,000, down just 10% from comparable 2019 revenues of $230,874,200; and the combined average of $185,888 was down just 1% from last year’s corresponding $187,855 average. With a 30% jump in the number catalogued, Fasig’s revenues were actually up $12-million (+18%), while Keeneland’s Books 1-3 revenues, with 7% fewer catalogued than last year, were down $34-million (-27%). But when we look at the first six days of selling in 2020 compared to the first six days in 2019, the thoroughbred market does seem to have improved, especially in the last two months.
October 25th, 2020
It’s been a very good October in the European yearling market. After Tattersalls October Book 1, held October 6-8, when the gross was off by 20% and the average by 13%, but with strong participation from the Maktoums, Coolmore, and American interests led by clients of Chad Brown, breeders and consignors were heartened, but nobody was expecting the relentless strength of October Books 2-3. For five consecutive days, October 12-16, we literally were back in 2019. Last year, between Books 2-3, there were 1,396 yearlings catalogued, of which 1,054 sold, for a seriously strong clearance rate of 75.5% from the catalogues. This year, there were 1,418 catalogued (+1.5%), of which 1,096 sold (+4%), for an astonishing 77.3% clearance rate from the catalogues – nearly 2% higher than the corresponding 2019 books. Last year, the two sales grossed 55,506,900 gns, for an average of 52,663 gns. This year they grossed 55,729,700 – an actual gain of 222,800 gns (four-tenths of 1%)...
October 12th, 2020
Sheikh Mohammed has always loved shopping at Newmarket, and circumstances did not deter him from supporting Europe’s best yearling sale, Tattersalls October 1, held at Park Paddocks in Newmarket, October 6-8. Godolphin signed for 22 yearlings, totalling 16,430,000 gns; their great rivals Coolmore signed for 14 yearlings for 9,780,000 gns, including the two blockbuster Galileo fillies for 3.4m- and 2.8-million gns.
October 6th, 2020
Though the full extent of the decline in the European yearling market won’t be known until after the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale, which gets underway October 6, it is striking that the European sales to date, similarly to the two Kentucky sales, have been down almost exactly a third in gross revenues. According to statistics compiled from sales company websites and expressed in £ sterling as all the Irish yearling sales have been held in England this year, by the end of Goffs Orby sale October 1, the European sale gross was down 32%, from £120-million in the corresponding sales last year, to £82-million this year. Similarly, the Fasig-Tipton Showcase Sale and the Keeneland September Sale combined grossed $310.7-million, a 33% drop from the $462.7-million realized in the corresponding sales last year (or 32%, from $454-million, if we assign half of last year’s NY-bred sale to the Fasig-Tipton Mid-Atlantic Sale October 5-6).
September 21st, 2020
Through the best eight days of North American yearling sales there are going to be this year, namely Fasig-Tipton’s two-day Yearling Showcase Sale and Keeneland September Books 1-3, the effect of 2020 on the North American yearling sales is pretty clear. It’s a long way from pretty, but on the other hand just about everybody in the industry is grateful there was breeding this year, there is racing, and there are sales. However hard we have been hit by declines, we’re all aware plenty of people and businesses in far worse shape. At least we’re operating.
September 16th, 2020
The flurry of activity at the end of the Sept. 14 session which closed out Keeneland Book 1 – four of the last 11 horses through the ring commanded seven-figure final bids – could not have been a stronger indicator that in spite of everything top yearlings command top dollar, and that momentum is sure to carry on at least for the next few days. Between Fasig-Tipton’s ‘Selected Yearlings Showcase’ Sept 9-10 and Keeneland Book 1, Sept 13-14, a total of 546 yearlings sold for a total of $148,210,000 (average $262,783).
August 31st, 2020
The yearling sales season is about to get underway, with no one having a very good idea what’s going to happen. How many Europeans will be physically going to America isn’t clear, nor how many Americans will physically travel to Europe. We’re used to a strong European presence at the American sales, but only recently have American buyers been shopping in Europe, and they’ve had plenty of success, too. On August 15, Chad Brown trained a double for Klaravich Stable at Saratoga with two colts by Kingman bought as yearlings at Tattersalls’ October Sale: the 2-year-old colt Public Sector broke his maiden going 1 1/16m on the turf, and the 3-year-old Domestic Spending won the $500,000 Saratoga Derby Invitational, at 1 3/16m on the turf. And of course Campanelle, the Kodiac filly trained by Wesley Ward for Stonestreet who won the G2 Queen Mary at Royal Ascot and the G1 Prix Morny at Deauville, was also a Tattersalls graduate.
August 17th, 2020
One of the most important points to emerge about North American and European second-crop sires of 2020 (first foals 2017, denoted F2017) is the emergence of the first really good sire sons of Dubawi, in Europe, and Tapit, in North America. Europe’s Dubawi is the sire of leading European second-crop sire Night of Thunder, who stands at Darley’s Kildangan Stud in Ireland, and in fact Dubawi’s grandson, Ballylinch Stud’s Make Believe, by Makfi, is also among Europe’s top four second-crop sires, as he’s the sire of 2020 G1 Prix du Jockey-Club (French Derby) winner Mishriff, who also scored in the August 15 G2 Prix Guillaume d’Ornano at Deauville. So the Dubawi sire line is now getting traction in Europe.
July 27th, 2020
Europe’s 2-year-old sales season closed out July 24 with the Tattersalls Ireland Goresbridge sale, held in Newmarket but conducted in regular pounds sterling as opposed to guineas. From a catalogue of 254 two-year-olds (including supplemented entries), 125 sold, which was 49% of those catalogued, slightly up on the 47% rate from the previous five 2020 European 2-year sales; all six were actually held in England this year.
July 20th, 2020
APEX (Annual Progeny Earnings indeX) Stallion Ratings are a proprietary method of assessing sire performance developed at the newsletter Racing Update in the 1990’s; essentially they are an enhancement of the average-earnings index. Rankings both by progeny earnings and the average-earnings index are liable to be dramatically skewed by one big earner; APEX ratings address that issue by indexing the frequency with which sires have runners which attain specified earnings thresholds, by identifying three class bands: A Runners (the top 2% of earners/runners in a given jurisdiction in a year, part of year, or season); B Runners (the next 2%); C Runners (the next 4%); and ABC Runners (the top 8% combined).
US 2yo Auction Sales Down But Not Out
July 6th, 2020
Comparing auction sales results from this year to previous years does not really describe a decline in the auction marketplace which can be ascribed to factors internal to the thoroughbred industry, but rather, as everyone can plainly see, the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic which has affected the entire world. Figures compiled by Brianne Stanley of The Bill Oppenheim Group show that 1,224 two-year-olds (47.8% of 2,559 originally catalogued) have been sold at North American auctions so far this year, for a gross of $110,176,000, an average of $90,013. Compared to last year (which include Fasig-Tipton’s Gulfstream and Santa Anita sales), the number catalogued is down 7% (from 2,754), the number sold is down 15% (from 1,439), the gross is down $70-million (39%) from $180,160,000, and the average is down 28%, from $125,198.
June 22nd, 2020
We could all see it was a Royal Ascot like no other, decidedly lacking in crowd noise and atmosphere though, happily, not in the most important ingredient, class racing. It was a different Royal Ascot in the composition of the five-day program, too, with the addition of six £35,000 Handicaps over the five days. Normally there are 30 races, of which 22 are black-type races, with the other eight consisting of seven handicaps and one condition race, the 2 11/16m Queen Alexandra S. This year the Queen Alexandra was run for a £35,000 purse, as was the 2 ½-mile Ascot S., another handicap. So for the purposes of this analysis, I’ve separated the meeting into the 28 races run for a purse greater than £35,000 (the 22 black-type races and six handicaps) and the eight £35,000 races.
June 15th, 2020
In most years, we are able to assess the rise or falls in the thoroughbred marketplace from mostly internal factors, though sometimes modified by external economic factors, often reflected by indexes such as the Dow-Jones Industrial Average. This year, however, as everyone is aware, changes in the thoroughbred market are reflecting almost entirely external factors completely beyond the industry’s control.
June 1st, 2020
After a seriously truncated first five months of the year, the North American second-crop sire list (first foals 2017, first 3-year-olds 2020) is even less clear than the second-crop sire list usually is after Memorial Day weekend. Most years the list will be dominated by sires with a Classic or Classic prep winner in their first crop of 3-year-olds, but with the recognized Classics all pushed back we’re looking now at results which in most years would resemble more the middle to end of April, so one thing we should expect is for there to be considerably more fluctuation in these lists in the next three months than usual.
May 11th, 2020
Street Cry really jumped the tracks as a dirt racehorse by Machiavellian out of Helen Street, by Troy – surely an all-grass pedigree. But no: Street Cry ran 12 times in his career, all on fast dirt tracks, won five, including the 2002 G1 Dubai World Cup and G1 Stephen Foster, as a 4-year-old, was second six times, and was third once, in the 2000 G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs, to Macho Uno and Point Given. Timeform rated him 130 in Racehorses of 2002, and he ran Beyers of 118-119 in his final two starts, when winning the Stephen Foster and running second to the ill-fated Left Bank.
May 4th, 2020
In the autumn of 1987, New York bloodstock agent Alan Quartucci signed for a 4-year-old Nijinsky II filly, Dancing Show, being sold by Ralph C. Wilson Jr, for $75,000 for New Zealand interests. She was bred to Miswaki on Southern Hemisphere time, and the resulting foal, named Umatilla, was a Group-1 winning 2-year-old in Australia in 1990. Dancing Show’s dam, Show Lady, was an unraced Sir Ivor daughter of the legendary broodmare Best In Show, and was a half-sister to Sex Appeal, already by then dam of Try My Best (sire of Last Tycoon) and El Gran Senor. She was also a full sister to a champion 2-year-old in Europe, Malinowski, as well as to Minnie Hauk (dam of Aviance for the Niarchos family) and Monroe (later dam of champion European 2-year-old Xaar, for Juddmonte), and a half-sister to Blush With Pride, a dual G1 winner herself and later granddam of Rags to Riches.
April 27th, 2020
The G1 Kentucky Derby was run on the first Saturday in May 25 times between 1991-2015. Of the 25 winners, five did not have, or haven’t yet had, stud careers: Funny Cide (2003) and Mine That Bird (2009) were geldings; Barbaro (2006) died; War Emblem (2002) was infertile; and California Chrome (2014) has his first runners this year.
April 13th, 2020
We live in strange times. Among the innumerable things we couldn’t have predicted about the year 2020, you wouldn’t have thought being forced to conduct the world’s first premier yearling sale on-line, with no horses or buyers in the sales pavilion, would have marked international recognition that Australia has arrived as the fourth world power in international thoroughbred racing, in spite of the six-month tilt to the calendar due to being in the Southern Hemisphere. But it did: absent Arrowfield, its biggest consignor, and a few others mostly from out-of-state or New Zealand, Inglis’ on-line Easter Yearling Sale succeeded in enabling Australian breeders to sell, and not at particularly discounted prices either, under adverse circumstances to put it mildly, some of the best-bred yearlings in the country at the end of a sales season which had already seen over A$400-million in yearlings change hands.
March 23rd, 2020
There were sighs of relief all round from the thoroughbred commercial market’s community, though the raw figures (updated from the sales company website on March 19) showed a 37% drop in gross and 35% drop in average from the 2019 sale. At that point OBS reported 299 sold (43.9% of those catalogued and 61.6% of those sent through the ring) for a gross of $28,030,500, and a revised average of $93,747. The corresponding figures for 2019 were 306 sold (53.0% of the catalogue) for $44,248,500, an average of $144,603.
March 9th, 2020
It’s taken three-time Leading Sire Tapit a good while to establish himself as a sire of sires, but it’s all happening now, with four sons among the top 16 North American second-crop sires by cumulative earnings; two of them, WinStar’s Constitution and Lane’s End’s Tonalist, actually rank one-two by 2020 progeny earnings, according to Blood-Horse statistics through racing of March 7. Darby Dan’s Tapiture and Spendthrift’s Race Day also figure among the top 16 by cumulative progeny earnings.
February 17th, 2020
Including $74-million in sales since the beginning of 2020, the 2019-2020 North American and European mixed sales season concluded, with Fasig-Tipton’s February sale Feb 10-11 and Arqana’s February sale Feb 11-12, with a total of $591-million in auction sales revenue, according to figures compiled by Brianne Stanley of The Bill Oppenheim Group; our figures are unofficial but we’re confident they would not be far off if official figures actually did exist. The combined gross is 4% down on the corresponding 2018-2019 figure of $615-million, and 6% below the recent high-water mark of $628-million in the 2017-2018 mixed sale season, and though slightly down on the last two mixed sales seasons, it was the fifth mixed sales season in a row the total has fallen in a $50-million range, between $579-million in 2016-2017 and $628-million. Variations in the catalogues aside, the combined North American and European mixed sale auction market has been essentially stable the last five years.
January 20th, 2020
It’s a familiar litany which we analysts preach: mixed sales results are vulnerable to what’s in the catalogues. Keeneland’s January Sale this year was expanded from four days to five, with 17% more catalogued and 16% more listed as sold than last year, but the metrics suggest pretty convincingly that the additional horses came more from the bottom end of the market than from the top.
December 30th, 2019
For the year-end tables of Leading Sires in various categories of APEX ratings, which measure the frequency with which stallions sire runners who meet certain earnings percentage thresholds, sires have to have had 200+ year-starters going back as far as seven seasons (a horse is counted as one ‘year-starter’ each year it races, as with the average-earnings index). The top category is ‘A Runners’, measuring the top 2% of earners in each jurisdiction each year.
December 16th, 2019
Once the Kentucky mixed sales are finished in mid-November, the principal European mixed sales take place over the next month, at Goffs in Ireland (Kildare), Tattersalls in England (Newmarket), and Arqana in France (Deauville). According to figures compiled by Brianne Stanley of The Bill Oppenheim Group, this is another sector which returned very steady results compared to 2018: this year 3,036 horses sold at European mixed sales, for a total of €178,285,572, an average of €58,724. Last year 3,078 sold for €180,580,375, and averaged €58,668. The number sold dropped by 1%, the gross dropped by 1%, while the average was up by €56, or one-tenth of 1%. Interestingly, both Goffs (which was up €7m) and Arqana grossed €34-million; Tattersalls’ December Sale in Newmarket grossed 91-million guineas, or about €113-million.
November 25th, 2019
From our last report (Blood-Horse Daily, November 10), covering Fasig-Tipton November and Keeneland November Books 1 and 2, the needle did not move appreciably, certainly on the lists of leading sires by weanling and covering sire average, through the end of Keeneland, November 17. The entire Keeneland sale, in which for the first time private sales were included, was up by literally 1% in gross, from $197,851,300 last year to $200,139,400, while the average increased by $213, or three-tenths of one percent, from $74,830 to $75,043. I think we can call that close to dead even.
November 10th, 2019
When we combine Fasig-Tipton’s November Sale with Keeneland November Books 1 and 2 (November 5-8), there were 1,320 horses catalogued in the first four days of the Kentucky November mixed sales. A total of 762 were listed as sold (57.7% of those catalogued), for a combined gross of $207,318,000, an average of $272,070. Last year the comparable sessions had 1,318 catalogued, 751 sold (57.0%), for a total of $222,454,500, an average of $296,211. So the gross dropped by 7%, and the average by 8%, from the comparable sessions last year.
October 28th, 2019
Following the Fasig-Tipton (up in gross, down in median) and Arqana (down a bit) October yearling sales, the North American and European yearling sales are just about complete. According to figures compiled by Brianne Stanley of The Bill Oppenheim Group, thus far in 2019 there have been 12,178 yearlings catalogued at those sales, of which exactly 8,100 (66.5% of those catalogued) were listed sales. They grossed $843,336,363 (using current conversion rates), and averaged $104,116. At the corresponding point last year, there had been 12,203 yearlings catalogued, of which 8,307 had sold (68.1% of those catalogued), for a gross of $864,185,183, and an average of $104,031.
October 14th, 2019
Following the trend at most of the major yearling sales this year, England’s Tattersalls sales company’s flagship October Book 1 yearling sale, held in Newmarket October 8-10, experienced slight declines from 2018. With 552 yearlings catalogued over the three days, 397 yearlings sold (71.9% of those catalogued; American sales are lucky to see 60% sold from catalogued) for a total of 102,279,000 guineas, and an average of 258,008 gns. The gross declined by 4% from 2018, when 392 yearlings (75.5% of the 519 catalogued) sold for 106,503,000 gns, while the average was down 5% from last year’s Book 1 average of 271,691 gns. And while leading buyers Godolphin and Shadwell accounted for nearly a quarter of the gross between them, sales company officials were reportedly heard to be rehearsing a rendition of “America The Beautiful” after American interests, headed by Mike Ryan and Chad Brown, bought an estimated 58 yearlings – nearly 15% of the yearlings sold.
September 25th, 2019
In September, 2006, my future colleague, Emily Plant, was beginning her Ph.D. studies at the University of Kentucky. Emily, who is originally from Louisville, was a seasoned horsewoman and had been to Churchill Downs plenty of times, but had never actually been to a Keeneland auction. She happened to arrive there at the absolute market peak: the 2006 Keeneland September Sale, which grossed a record $399,791,800 – about two horses short of $400-million – and featured John Ferguson, on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed, signing for 34 horses for a total of $59,945,000 - about one bid short of $60-million - for an average outlay of more than $1.7-million. The average price for the 3,556 yearlings sold at the 2006 Keeneland September Sale was $112,427.
September 21st, 2019
The Jockey Club has asked for public comment on the proposed cap of 140 mares for stallions for which they are the registry. I will outline six reasons why this proposal should not gain traction, but also I have three suggestions which could merit further discussion.
September 13th, 2019
Wednesday’s closing session of Keeneland September Book 1, in which 124 yearlings grossed $65,086,000 and averaged $524,855, was the strongest yearling sale session I’ve seen in at least the last ten years – even without the $8.2-million American Pharoah half-sister to Beholder, Into Mischief, and Mendelssohn the session would have averaged over $462,000.
August 26th, 2019
For four years from 2013-2016 about 2,800 yearlings each year were sold over two weeks at Keeneland September, the world’s largest yearling supermarket, grossing around $280-million and averaging around $100,000. In 2017 there was finally some growth; though a low 2,555 were sold, they grossed $307-million, and averaged $120,487. In 2018 the market really took off: from 4,518 yearlings catalogued, there were 2,916 listed sales, and the gross jumped by $70-million (22%), to $377-million, while the average, with 14% more yearlings sold, edged up another 7%, to $129,335. Interestingly, the big gains last year were in the second week, which did have one more day of selling (nine vs eight in 2017) but was up almost $50-million in gross and $10,000 in average from the previous year. In a two-year period the September gross has risen more than $100-million, and the average gained around $30,000.
August 14th, 2019
The first three North American yearling sales of 2019 – all conducted by Fasig-Tipton, as it happens - are in the books. In spite of just about everyone agreeing the market remains strong “for the right horse”, in fact all three sales were down in gross, though the main event, the Saratoga Sale, was up 11% in average, although 13% fewer were catalogued and 21% fewer sold (a 6% drop in the clearance rate from the catalogue, from 67% to 61%) than in 2018.
July 29th, 2019
You know about the “smell test” – something either rings true, or it doesn’t, in other words it corresponds to our perceptions of reality. In the world of thoroughbred breeding sire analysis, this is the problem with the average-earnings index: even though the definition and structure of it are mathematically correct, the results don’t really ring true. I guess not too many people notice it, because the average-earnings index isn’t used very much these days except in ads, but, in my small world, it was never really very useful, because I would see sires with a 1.40 average-earnings index, but I knew they were only really average sires. So, for me, the average-earnings index, theoretically pure as it might be, never really passed the smell test.
July 15th, 2019
The US yearling market gross was up $83-million (+18%) in 2018, with the overall average for 4,974 yearlings sold up 9%, to $106,659. The Fasig July yearling sale in 2018 saw 196 horses sold – just about 4% of the total which eventually sold. So it could be a mistake to project anything about the overall yearling market based on the first 4% which sell; still, it’s the first sale of the yearling sale season, so requires examination at the very least.
June 24th, 2019
There are 30 races run over five days at Royal Ascot, which took place this year June 18-22. There are eight Group 1 races, eight Group 2 (so over half of the races are G1 or G2), three each Group 3 and Listed Races, and eight handicaps or conditions races, most of which might as well be black type. Perhaps surprisingly, just five sires were responsible for the winners of half the races: Shamardal sired three winners of four races after Blue Point became the first horse since Choisir in 2003 to win both the G1 King’s Stand over five furlongs, on June 18, and the six-furlong G1 Diamond Jubilee just four days later, on June 22. Galileo and his half-brother Sea The Stars sired three winners each, as did the previously just useful sire, Bated Breath. He is a Juddmonte sire, as is Galileo’s best son, Frankel, who had two winners; and the sire with one winner and the most placings was another Juddmonte sire, Kingman, who had one winner and three Group placings from his first crop of 3-year-olds.
June 11th, 2019
Four sires stand out from the crowd among North American and European third-crop sires (first foals 2015, first 4-year-olds 2019), or should I say sires which originally stood in North America or Europe. With their second crops of 3-year-olds now well into the Classic season, Take Charge Indy and Violence, in North America, and Camelot and Declaration of War (who actually stood just his first season in Ireland), in Europe, are the top third-crop sires by cumulative progeny earnings and in most black-type categories. In the accompanying tables, Declaration of War is ranked second in Europe and also tenth in North America (the figures are identical). But Take Charge Indy was sold to South Korea after the 2016 breeding season, before he ever had a runner (his last of three US crops are now 2-year-olds), and Declaration of War has spent the current 2019 season in Japan on a one-way ticket.
May 27th, 2019
Horse racing in the U.S. is under scrutiny, if not attack, as never before, but inside the bubble the U.S. 2-Year-Old in Training market has had a strong spring. With two major sales left to go, Fasig-Tipton at Santa Anita on June 5, and OBS June from the 12th-14th, the US 2-year-old sales thus far are up 15% in gross, and 7% in average, from 2018. According to figures compiled by Brianne Stanley of The Bill Oppenheim Group, this year 1,512 two-year-olds have sold (an increase of 93, or 6%), of 2,754 catalogued, for a clearance rate from the catalogues of 54.9%, which is within 2% of the corresponding clearance rates at this point in the sales calendar each of the last five years. The combined gross, for all sales tallied, is $184,225,400, an increase of over $23-million from last year’s corresponding total of $160,974,000. The 2019 average for the 1,512 juveniles sold so far is $121,842, up from $113,442. ...
May 13th, 2019
A total of 13 North American and European third-crop sires (first foals 2015, with first 4-year-olds 2019) have sired Group 1 winners thus far (all statistics through racing of May 8), though only one – Coolmore’s Camelot (Montjeu) - has sired more than one Group 1 winner. Camelot has sired three to date, and with eight GSW, Camelot is the only third-crop NA/EU sire with more than four GSW.
April 29th, 2019
With 1,221 two-year-olds catalogued – more than had been catalogued in all other US 2-year-old sales combined thus far in 2019 – if there were weaknesses in demand in the US 2-year-old market, they would surely be exposed in the OBS April sale. And though the clearance rate from the catalogue dipped slightly, from 57% to 55%, the sale was indeed very strong: for 672 two-year-olds sold (according to preliminary sale company figures; these will be revised upward as private sales are recorded), the gross was up by 6%, or $4.4-million, to $73,183,000, and the $108,093 average was up 10% over last year’s average of $98,475. Three horses cracked the $1-million barrier (one last year).
April 15th, 2019
Keeneland’s April sale returned on April 8 as a combined 2-year-old plus Horses of Racing Age sale, which grossed $6,083,500, an average of $90,799 for 67 head sold, which was 39.6% of the 169 total catalogued. Two-thirds of those sold (45) were horses of racing age, which averaged $59,911 with a $500,000 topper (the 3-year-old filly Sweet Diane), while just 22 two-year-olds sold; they averaged $153,977, including a $1.3-million full sister to Bourbon War, by Tapit out of G1 winner My Conquestadory. Even without her the other 21 juveniles averaged $99,404. So Keeneland seemed satisfied that a $6-million day was worth the effort, and it certainly showed again that horses of racing age fit in well with auctions of 2-year-olds, especially if there aren’t so many 2-year-olds.
April 1st, 2019
Everything about the thoroughbred business is a pretty high-risk gamble, we know that; but of those who invest in the breeding and auction sales sector of the business, pinhooking 2-year-olds must be about the highest-risk gamble of all. At the March 27 Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream 2-Year-Old in Training Sale, fewer than one-third of the horses catalogued (59 of 187, 31.6%) were listed as sold; but those 59 which did sell grossed $29,115,000 – a 24% rise from 2018 – and averaged a spectacular $493,475, an increase of 28% over last year’s sale.
March 18th, 2019
All weeks are eventful, certainly for those of us who follow racing internationally, but it did seem like the past week was particularly eventful. There were a couple of races with great stories. Jumps racing for sure isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but for those who do recognize it as now a kind of offshoot of flat racing, the four-day Cheltenham Festival, Mar. 12-15, can only be described as the jumps equivalent of Royal Ascot, minus the fancy gear. The total attendance over the four days was a massive 266,000, and happily the main reason is that it really is a festival of top-class horse racing.
March 11th, 2019
In the ten years since the World Financial Crash of 2007-09, the Australasian racing and breeding industry has crossed the line from being ‘just’ the top of the Southern Hemisphere to becoming a fourth regional world power, along with Northern Hemisphere regions North America, Europe, and Japan. Instead of having to buy the moderate half-sister to the good horse, or the half-brother to the good sire, they’re now players to buy the good filly or mare themselves, while shuttling, especially courtesy of Coolmore and Darley, continues to provide Australasian breeders with access to top sire prospects and good sires. Besides an enticing domestic purse structure, a very robust secondary market in Asian racing districts like Hong Kong, Singapore, and Macau, and Asian investment in Australia and New Zealand have also fuelled the Australasian market. In 2018 the Australasian yearling sale market grossed over A$540-million.
February 25th, 2019
Into Mischief was a $180,000 OBS 2-year-old in 2007, bought by Spendthrift Farm owner B. Wayne Hughes and trained by Richard Mandella in California during the synthetic-track era; indeed, all of Into Mischief’s six career starts were on synthetic tracks at Hollywood Park or Santa Anita, and in fact in all six he was ridden by Victor Espinosa. After breaking his maiden first time out at 6 ½ furlongs during the old Oak Tree meet, in October, he ran second over seven furlongs in the G3 Hollywood Prevue, then bounced back with a surprise 13-1 win in the 1 1/16m G1 Cashcall Futurity, defeating Colonel John and running a Beyer 95. His three runs as a 3-year-old were all at seven furlongs; he returned in February with a second, to one Georgie Boy, in the G2 San Vicente, then was out until the fall, when he ran back-to-back Beyer 103’s in winning the Damascus S., but finishing off on opening day of the Santa Anita meet with a second to Bob Black Jack in the G1 Malibu S.
February 18th, 2019
The first notable 21st-century arrival of Australasian racing and breeding on the international scene was at Royal Ascot in 2003 when, Choisir, still a 3-year-old by Southern time and from the second Australian crop by Danehill Dancer, not only won the then-G2 King’s Stand S. on the meet’s opening day (at 25-1, defeating Acclamation), he came back five days later to win the G1 then-Golden (now Diamond) Jubilee, still going off at 13-2 and defeating the filly Airwave, later the granddam of the 4-time Group 1 winner Churchill.
February 4th, 2019
As our veteran readers know, we don’t assign APEX (Annual Progeny Earnings IndeX) stallions ratings to sires until they have their first 3-year-olds. It’s also one of our beliefs that, regardless of the demands of the commercial market, sires can’t really properly be evaluated until the end of the term their first 4-year-olds have run. So two of the most interesting sets of tables we like to examine are sires with their first 3-year-olds (first foals 2015, abbreviated F2015, in 2018) and sires with their first 4-year-olds (F2014). There were 86 qualifying F2014 sires in North American and Europe, of which 49 had 100+ ‘year-starters’ (a horse is counted as one starter each year it starts, so a foal of 2014 could be as many as three year-starters by the end of 2018). There were 79 qualifying F2015 sires in North America and Europe, of which 51 had 50+ year-starters (one 2015 foal could be as many as two by the end of 2018).
January 21st, 2019
Australian racing and breeding have been bounding forward at an impressive rate for the last ten years and the Australian industry is now a model example of the level of prize money necessary to entice ordinary citizens into horse ownership. With the added advantage of a big market in Hong Kong and other successful Asian racing countries which do not have breeding programs, the Australian auction markets have not surprisingly reached all-time highs. Kentucky has Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton; Europe has Tattersalls, Goffs, and Arqana; and Australia has Sydney-based Inglis and Magic Millions, based on the Gold Coast, near Brisbane.
January 14th, 2019
In the major 2018 “second-half” (calendar year) mixed sales, in other words the sales featuring foals of 2018 and mares covered in 2018, a total of 7,217 horses were sold, which grossed US$ 537-million and averaged US$ 74,457. The combined gross was up about 3% from 2017, and in fact had fluctuated between $504-million and $533 million over the four previous years. So there wasn’t much reason to expect any kind of spike in demand at the Keeneland January Sale – even given the usual disclaimer that the quality of mixed sales catalogues is always eligible to vary widely, for example Abel Tasman 2019, no Abel Tasman 2018. When it’s one horse like that, it’s relatively simple to account for it – just take the top lot both years out (in 2018 it was another broodmare prospect, Mrs McDougal, for $1.6-million).
January 2nd, 2019
According to figures compiled by Brianne Stanley of our team, and covering a big majority of North American and European auction sales, in 2018 a total of 36,867 ‘hips’ were catalogued among the sales we covered. Of these, 22,782 were listed as sales (61.8% of the number catalogued). They grossed $1,762,938,399 (that’s $1.76-billion), and averaged a record $77,383, all converted to US$ from local currencies. The number catalogued was 2.5% higher than in 2017, when 35,961 hips were catalogued. The number sold declined by two-tenths of a percent, as 22,824 were listed sales in 2017. The percentage sold/catalogued was 63.5% in 2017, meaning that metric declined by 1.7% in 2018. Both gross and average were 5% higher than in 2017, when the gross totalled $1,684,788,603 ($1.68-billion) and the average was $73,817.
December 15th, 2018
Topped by G1 Prix Marcel Boussac winner Lily’s Candle’s third trip through the ring at Deauville, this time to Katsumi Yoshida for €1.1-million, and a €1-million Dubawi filly out of Just the Judge bought by – guess who? – Stroud Coleman, presumably for Godolphin, Arqana’s December Mixed Sale, which ended Dec. 11, posted modest gains of 6% in gross and 7% in average over 2017 figures. This reduced by a little what were ultimately single-figure (therefore minor) declines at the three major European mixed sales. At Goffs November, Tattersalls December, and Arqana December combined, in 2018 a total of 5,048 horses were catalogued, of which 3,078 (61.0%) were listed as sales. The combined total gross, converted to Euros, was €178,400,070, for an average of €57,960. In 2017 a total of 5,066 horses were catalogued, of which 3,305 (65.2%) were listed as sold, grossing €197,098,330 and averaging €59,636. ...
December 14th, 2018
Improvement in the stallion ranks at Newmarket stud farms including most prominently Darley’s Dalham Hall, Juddmonte’s Banstead Manor, and Cheveley Park combined with the cessation of the no-tax-on nominations policy in Ireland in 2008 has seen marked gains in recent English sire crops vis-à-vis Ireland. Now we can add Tweenhills, which is more near jumps country in Gloucesterhsire, as England’s newest breakthrough stud farm. Already the home of Havana Grey (Teofilo), a leading second-crop sire, and the promising Hot Streak (Iffraaj), whose first yearlings stirred attention at this year’s sales, the home of Sheikh Fahad Al-Thani’s Qatar Racing’s sires adds three new stallions for 2019: the European Horse of the Year, Roaring Lion; ...
December 8th, 2018
The entire Tattersalls’ December Sale, which ran from Nov. 26 – Dec. 6, with nine days of selling over the 11-day period and included yearlings (one day), foals (four days), and mares and fillies (four days), was down about 5%, or about 5.4-million guineas (about US$7.2-million), from a record 105.2-million guineas (US$140m) last year, to 99.8-million guineas (US$133m) this year. The week before Tattersalls got underway, Goffs in Ireland had seen a 34% drop in their November sale gross, from €42-million in 2017 to €27.6-million this year. Added together and converted to Euros, the two sales were down over €20-million in gross, from €165.8-million in 2017 to €145-million this year. That’s a 13% drop in gross.
December 5th, 2018
Breeders are forever lamenting the lack of proven sires at ‘reasonable’ prices, and it’s easy to understand why: these days, once the market knows a sire is really good, they don’t ascend the stud fee scale incrementally, like for example Tapit did; they just leap from $25,000 to $100,000 in one fell swoop, like this year’s leading European freshman sire No Nay Never: €25,000 this year, €100,000 next year. No middle ground.
November 19th, 2018
If you happen to be an analyst of business, the fact that our industry’s sales results are reported by sales company (first Fasig-Tipton, then Keeneland, in this case) can be a little misleading. Fasig-Tipton held a one-day sale with 250 horses catalogued (up 23% from last year) which grossed $89,473,000 (up 20% from 2017). Then Keeneland held a 12-day sale with 4,513 horses catalogued (up 9% from last year) which grossed $188,508,500 – down 7% from 2017. The market is 18 times bigger at Keeneland; in one day Fasig sold 5% of the horses sold in the Kentucky November sales for 32% of all the money spent over 13 days. What gives?
October 29th, 2018
At the conclusion of the major North American and European yearling sales at Fasig-Tipton October on Oct. 25 and Arqana’s October sale in Deauville which finished Oct. 26, Brianne Stanley of The Bill Oppenheim Group calculated that 8,859 yearlings sold (67.5% of 13,123 catalogued) for total revenues of US$898,478,319, an average of US$101,420. In the corresponding sales in 2017, a total of 8,548 yearlings sold (67.8% of 12,808 catalogued) for revenues of US$816,039,237, an average of US$95,466. About 300 more yearlings (+4%) were catalogued and sold compared to the same sales last year, for a 10% increase in gross, and a 6% increase in average. Taken overall, the yearling market did register significant gains.
October 14th, 2018
Looking at the bare results observers could be forgiven for thinking Tattersalls’ flagship yearling sale, October Book 1, which finished October 11, replicated the pattern (roughly a 10% decline in average) we have been seeing at virtually every European yearling sale except Goffs Orby sale October 2-3. Orby was up 21% in average, and while October 1 dipped 7% in average, the sale saw a record gross (106,503,000 guineas [£111,828,150/$146,441,625]) for the seventh consecutive year, and the average of 271,691 gns converts to about $373,575, marginally higher than Keeneland September’s Book 1 average of $363,780. The 392 yearlings sold over the three days represented an astonishing 75.5% of the horses catalogued, compared to 60.3% in Keeneland Book 1.
September 25th, 2018
About the only metric that wasn’t up at the blockbuster 2018 edition of the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, which concluded its two-week run on Sept. 23, was the median, which fell from $57,000 to $50,000. This was undoubtedly due to there having been 13 days of selling vs 12 last year, resulting in an extra 361 yearlings selling total. With book 1 having been reduced by over 200 horses (18%) compared to Books 1 & 2 last year, there were actually another 612 yearlings catalogued in the second week, a 21% rise from last year, of which 446 more yearlings sold this year in the second week. That no doubt accounts for the fall in the median.
September 15th, 2018
At the close of business on September 13, Keeneland’s four-day Book 1 finished up a resounding success, with 596 yearlings (12% fewer than last year) grossing $216,813,000 ($20-million, or 10%, higher than last year), and averaging $363,780, a whopping 26% rise on last year’s Books 1-2 average of $288,759. They might try and tweak the stabling for next year to make it more convenient for buyers, but it would be a brave person who would bet against a four-day Keeneland Book 1 for 2019 after this week’s sensational Book 1.
September 13th, 2018
In the Northern Hemisphere, we do APEX sire ratings for three regions: North America, ‘Europe’ (defined as GB/Ireland, France, and Germany), and Japan. Though Japan is pretty much out on its own both geographically and in terms of the racing program, there is tremendous commerce between North America and Europe, such that the ratings for sires in the two regions correspond. Not so in the Southern Hemisphere. We are covering three regions in the Southern Hemisphere, but they are quite distinct from each other. The three regions we identify are: Australasia; South America; and South Africa.
August 28th, 2018
It seems every year the configuration of the first week of Keeneland’s September Yearling Sale changes. It’s always four days or three days, but the numbers included in Book 1 (and last year, Book 2, as Book 1 was a short one-day session) have varied fairly dramatically the last few years. In fact, the last time Week 1 had a four-day Book 1 with similar numbers to this year’s 989 catalogued was in 2013, when 875 yearlings were catalogued in a four-day Book 1. The following year the four days shrunk to 762 catalogued, and in 2015 (724 catalogued) and 2016 (607 catalogued) Book 1 was just three days. Last year Keeneland tried out a one-day Book 1 on Monday, followed by a three-day Book 2; the total for the week was a whopping 1,202 catalogued, of which 681 sold (56.7% of those catalogued), for an impressive Week 1 gross of $196,645,000, and an average of $288,759. In 2013, 546 yearlings sold in the first week for an average of $280,925. ...
August 17th, 2018
When I wrote in my column on July 31 that it looked like Fasig-Tipton had a shot to break $100-million for their three summer sales, I thought they would probably have to include their July Horses of Racing Age sale to crack that barrier … but no: after The Saratoga Sale was up by $9.8-million and the New York-bred sale saw a $2.2-million increase in gross, their three yearling sales broke through the $100-million barrier, with a combined three-sale gross of $101,048,500. This was an 18% increase in the $85,311,000 the three sales grossed last year. When we add in their July HORA sale, the total Fasig-Tipton three-sale summer gross was $110,366,500, also an 18% increase from the combined 2017 gross of $93,399,000. The three-sale yearling average, for 538 yearlings sold, was $187,822, a 12% gain from the corresponding 2017 average of $167,286.
July 31st, 2018
The addition of a Horses of Racing Age day on the front of Fasig-Tipton’s Kentucky July Yearling Sale in 2013 resulted this year in Fasig July’s two days grossing over $29-million ($29,080,500 to be precise) earlier this month, with the key July Yearling Sale gross nudging $20-million and the average edging into six figures at $100,829. Last year at Saratoga 156 yearlings grossed almost $53-million (really almost: $52,995,000) and a sale for which the over-and-under has been a $300,000 average surged to an average of $339,712. With their New York-bred sale grossing over $16.2-million, Fasig’s combined gross for July’s two days and Saratoga’s two sales was $93,399,000 in 2017 – call it almost $93.4-million. With July’s two days this year being up almost $4.9-million it wouldn’t take much of an increase at Saratoga’s two sales for Fasig-Tipton’s summer sale gross to break the $100-million barrier.
July 17th, 2018
In the July 3 Blood-Horse Daily I wrote: “one good thing about projections is they give us a standard against which to measure the actual results, so the real question will be how close or far the July [Yearling] sale is from a $20 million gross and $100,000 average. Before the fact, those look like optimistic targets”. Considering the gross was $19,762,500 and the average was $100,829 we can definitely say the Fasig July yearling sale finished up right at the top end of our pre-sale projections. There were 50 more (+17%) yearlings catalogued than last year, of which 11% more sold, so the clearance rate from the catalogue dropped 3%, from 58% to 55%. The gross was up by 22% ($3.6-million); and the average was up by 7%. When we add in the figures from the July 9 Horses of Racing Age sale, Fasig Kentucky’s two days in July grossed $29,080,500, almost a $5-million increase (+20%) from corresponding 2017 figures. They must be pretty satisfied with those numbers.
July 3rd, 2018
The 2018 North American and European 2-year-old sales are done, Royal Ascot is over, so it’s just about Fasig time. The storied Fasig-Tipton July Yearling Sale, which has launched so many sires’ commercial careers, kicks off the North American and European 2018 yearling auction sales season next Tuesday, July 10, but first we have an increasingly relevant Horses of Racing Age sale Monday afternoon, July 9, to get things underway. Fasig-Tipton introduced this sale in 2013; twice in its five-year history it has grossed over $8-million, and this year, even before they take supplements, there are a record 152 horses catalogued. When we consider the yearling sale has grossed over $20-million just once since 2008, and has usually grossed around $15-$16 million, it certainly looks like the market is endorsing the Monday sale – not to mention it’s good news for Fasig’s bottom line.
June 28th, 2018
There is a famous American folk song, dating to the early 20th century, called “Frankie and Johnnie”. It’s one of those you-done-me-wrong-so-I-had-to-shoot-you ballads, and bears no relation whatsoever to Royal Ascot 2018’s version, Frankie Dettori and John Gosden. Frankie and Johnnie had a treble on Royal Ascot’s opening day last Tuesday, June 19, and at that point it looked like they were poised to dominate the whole five days of what is, without the slightest question, the world’s number one horserace meeting.
June 5th, 2018
For European sires who went to stud between 2012-2014, so whose first foals are 5-, 4-, and 3-year-olds of 2018, their proximity to Frankel on the racetrack figured to be an important pointer to their prospects as sires, and so it has proved. Coolmore’s Zoffany, a son of Dansili who maybe gave Frankel the biggest scare of his career in the 2011 G1 St. James’s Palace S. at Royal Ascot as a 3-year-old, was the first of those who was in relatively close proximity to Frankel to go to stud, and had his first foals in 2013 (now 5-year-olds). He was comfortably the leading European Freshman Sire of 2015, and is now a solidly established mid-range sire standing for €25,000.
May 29th, 2018
There has been a lot written this week about Sir Ivor on the 50th anniversary of his groundbreaking Epsom Derby win. Here’s my take on it.
May 22nd, 2018
Declaration of War, from War Front’s second crop, became one of his sire’s leading standard-bearers as a 4-year-old in 2013. Having won both his starts at two in France for owner-breeder Joseph Allen, trained by Jean-Claude Rouget, the Coolmore partners bought into him and sent him to the U.S. to be trained by Todd Pletcher. However he sustained a training injury and was then sent to Ballydoyle, where he started out for Aidan O’Brien in September of his 3-year-old year, winning the G3 Diamond S. over 10 ½ furlongs on the all-weather at Dundalk in the third of his three starts as at three.
May 14th, 2018
Last weekend’s first four Classics, at Churchill Downs and Newmarket, did not move the needle too much on the lists of North American and European second- and third-crop sires: the only significant mover, at least as result of Classic action, was North American third-crop sire Tapizar, Gainesway’s son of Tapit whose top 3-year-old filly Monomoy Girl was a convincing winner of the GI Kentucky Oaks in spite of breaking from 14 of 14. Tapizar now moves from 10th to 8th by cumulative progeny earnings for North American third-crop sires, and from fifth to third by 2018 earnings.
April 30th, 2018
The preliminaries are over. The first third of the calendar year is finished, and now the Classic season begins. Next weekend sees the GI Kentucky Oaks on May 4, the G1 English 2000 Guineas and the GI Kentucky Derby May 5, and the G1 English 1000 Guineas May 6. The following weekend are the two French Guineas races, then the Preakness, then the Irish Guineas the last weekend in May, and – just four weeks after the Kentucky Derby and English Guineas – on June 1 and 2 are the G1 Epsom Oaks and G1 Epsom Derby, and another week later it’s the GI Belmont S. The Classics are coming, thick and fast.
April 16th, 2018
Though it has been supplanted as Australia’s highest-grossing yearling sale by Magic Millions’ week-long Gold Coast Yearling Sale in Queensland in January (A$168-million), Wm Inglis & Son’s (universally known as ‘Inglis’) Sydney Easter Yearling Sale is still the crown jewel of the vibrant Australasian yearling market. This year’s edition, held at the sales company’s new A$140-million complex (complete with hotel – you walk out of the lobby into the sales ring) just beside Warwick Farm Racecourse returned an average of A$347,634 for 335 reported sales. Adding in 51 ‘Book 2’ horses sold at the end of Book 1’s three-day session (and included in the same catalogue), the Sydney Easter Sale grossed A$122,347,600, for an overall average of A$316,902.
March 26th, 2018
In the world rankings of thoroughbred racing, there’s no debate that North America and Europe (Britain, Ireland, France, Germany) are the top two regions for racing class. It would be between Australia and Japan for the world number three spot, but Australia gets the nod there by virtue of the racing being open to all comers, while Japanese racing is more restricted. But in certain key categories Australia is the world number one, including: enthusiasm; markets thriving both in top prices and in market depth; profitability metrics for commercial breeders; and – which I didn’t know before making my first foray to Australia – the size of the farms. The state of New South Wales, largely because of the work of Arrowfield Farm owner John Messara in his tenure as Chairman of Racing NSW from 2011-2016, is Australia’s number one racing state – this is where all the action is we’ve all been hearing about.
March 6th, 2018
Sires with their first 4-year-olds, and second crops of 3-year-olds, this year are at a critical juncture of their sire careers; either they will have sired something of Classic standard in one or both of their first two crops in the next couple of months, or they won’t. Two months in to 2018, looking at the leading North American sires with first foals 2014 (4-year-olds of 2018), the impact of Classic and Grade One form on the “third-crop” (so called because their third crops have now reached racing age) cumulative progeny earnings is clear.
February 28th, 2018
The horse business is positively full of interesting questions which are difficult to answer. Without true scientific evidence to back up suppositions, we’re left to make assumptions about the truth. One of these such ‘difficult questions’ is how shuttling stallions to stand dual-hemisphere duty affects their health and performance. In this modern world where news knows no bounds of time or space, we receive the published information and make assumptions. We can receive realtime updates of every moment in a stallion’s life- look for example to California Chrome and American Pharoah, who received extensive media attention of their travels to the Southern Hemisphere for the 2017 covering season. With this instant access to information, we hear all of the news- both the good and the bad. We know when the stallions are happy and enjoying their life of perpetual springtime grazing virtually year-round on green pastures; we also know when things go wrong.
February 18th, 2018
Polarization: it’s a word we’ve heard constantly for the last six months to describe the North American and European auction marketplace. Here is what it looks like.
February 12th, 2018
In the APEX (Annual Progeny Earnings index) system of rating stallions, ABC Runners are the top 8% earners from runners in a year. We call them “break-even-or-better” runners; they’re not necessarily stars (though ABC Runners include A Runners, Group winners, etc.), but they at least pay their way or come close. Here we’re looking at sires of ABC Runners for the year 2017 only. In North America that meant earners of $64,025 or more; in Britain/Ireland, earners of $27,672 (about £20,000); and in France, earners of $40,786 (about €35,000) or more. So this is a snapshot of the year 2017.
January 29th, 2018
Rating sires objectively is a tricky business. There are three methods which have historically been used: progeny earnings; average-earnings indexes; and percentage of Black-Type Winners from named foals of racing age. The limitations of progeny earnings are easy to understand: sires with the most foals and runners have the best chance of topping these lists, and possibly better sires with limited runners are penalized. Percentage of Black-Type Winners went out the window when sire crop sizes doubled and virtually no sires could reach the 10% BTW/foals threshold which identified the top sires. Now there is a variation in vogue, especially among advertisers, which is BTW/runners. The trouble with this is, this statistic actually favors sires with lower percentages of winners to runners, and thus potentially rewards unsoundness.
January 24th, 2018
In our first 2018 APEX column, dated January 9 on the website and emailed January 11, we ran a graph showing the decline in the number of sires which qualified for APEX ratings at the end of each year since 2007. There were 1,156 sires rated in North America, Europe, and Japan in 2007; there are 735 rated in 2018, a decline of 36% (to review: only sires with 3-year-olds and older of the last year covered [2017 this year] are assigned ratings, and sires must have had 10 or more named 3-year-olds in the last year rated, which eliminates the bottom 30% of sires, who have zero impact on the commercial market).
January 15th, 2018
Those who were in the thick of battle at Keeneland’s January Sale last week will testify to the strength of the market, at least for ‘the right article’, and the sale apparently continued the momentum which has carried the North American and European auction marketplace to ten-year (post-crash) highs, with the sale’s gross of just a shade under $35-million ($34,996,000 to be precise) marking a 21% gain over last year’s edition, while the average of $38,499 was a 28% gain over last year. Most importantly for consignors, the 909 sales were 57.4% of the 1,583 catalogued, an increase of 6.6% over last year’s desultory 50.8% clearance rate.
January 11th, 2018
The total amount of available prizemoney for thoroughbred racing in 2016 in the three major European racing countries - Great Britain, France, and Ireland – was around US$488 million, for a combined population around 137 million.
January 9th, 2018
In APEX terms, maybe the most amazing thing about Galileo is that he not only has the highest A Runner Index (4.60) among 407 North American and European sires with 200+ year-starters 2011-2017 (a ‘year-starter’ means a horse is counted as one starter for each year it starts, because average-earnings indexes, of which APEX is one, have to be calculated on an annual basis), he also has the highest number of year-starters – 2,119 in the seven-year period, an average of more than 300 starters a year. He has 195 A Runners 2011-2017 (like a year-starter, one horse can be an A Runner more than once) and 412 ABC Runners; Tapit, who is second in both categories, has 112 A Runners and 326 ABC Runners. So Galileo doesn’t just have the highest percentage (9.20%) of A Runners/Runners over a seven-year period, he’s doing it with a higher number of starters than any of the other more than 400 sires. Phenomenal – and phenomenally prolific.
January 3rd, 2018
The North American and European auction marketplace enjoyed a 10-year run, from 1998-2007, when prices continued to climb until, in 2007, the auction marketplace broke through the $2-billion barrier, when over 30,000 horses sold averaged $75,463. But the horse market itself was overheated, and after the World Financial Crash of 2008 the auction market, like the North American and European foal crops, collapsed by 40%; by the end of 2009 the auction market gross had plummeted to around $1.2-billion. The market then literally crawled along the bottom for three more years before beginning to rebound in 2013. In that year the auction gross shot up 24%, by almost $300-million, to $1.488-billion, and the average jumped 19%, from $58,028 in 2012 to $69,005 in 2013.
December 18th, 2017
Between 2013, when the bloodstock market began to recover from the shattering effects of the 2008 World Financial Crash, and 2016, the number of North American and European yearlings which made 1-million or more (whichever currency) varied between 23 (in 2013) and 19 (in 2016), according to figures compiled by my colleague, Dr. Emily Plant. After 32 yearlings topped those marks in 2017, the stage was set for more fireworks at the recently concluded mixed sales. Though the Kentucky November sales saw three fillies or mares bring $6-million or more (Songbird, Tepin, and Stellar Wave), the overall Kentucky November sales total of $276-million was nowhere near the Kentucky November record of $394-million racked up in 2007.
December 16th, 2017
Not surprisingly when we focus on sires at £15,000/€15,000 and under we are more in the realm of unproven rather than proven sires: only four of the 25 stallions we selected as ‘value sires or market picks’ in Britain, Ireland, France, or Germany and standing for 15,000 or under have 3-year-olds or older, whereas we have nine horses on our list retiring to stud for 2018.
December 10th, 2017
Britain leaves the European Union in March, 2019. Among the zillions of complications which will ensue, we’ll have to figure out whether we can still just call them all ‘European’ thoroughbred sales, or whether we’ll have to start talking about ‘European and British’. That’s not as important, though, as enshrining citizens’ rights or making sure there’s no physical border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
December 1st, 2017
There are very few proven sires standing for $15,000 and under, so they’re entitled to be heavily patronized. The first two on our list had virtually identical race records: Darby Dan’s Run Away And Hide and Hill ‘n’ Dale’s Kantharos each ran three times at two. Run Away And Hide broke his maiden at Keeneland in April over 4 ½ furlongs; won the GIII Kentucky S., at five furlongs, on May 1, Kentucky Oaks day; and the GII Saratoga Special over 6 ½ furlongs, obviously, at Saratoga. Unfortunately, then injured, retired, and covered mares at Darby Dan as a 3-year-old in 2009. Kantharos, similar story: broke his maiden at five furlongs at Churchill in May, 2010; won the six-furlong GIII Bashford Manor on July 3; romped by seven lengths in the GII Saratoga Special; injured, retired, in his case to Ocala Stud in Florida, where he covered as a 3-year-old, in 2011.
November 27th, 2017
It nearly goes without saying that ‘value’ is a relative term – the most expensive horse can be cheap if it’s good value, and likewise cheap horses can be poor value. So we begin this series with 26 Kentucky sires which I reckon do provide ‘value’, seven of which stand for $50,000 or more, and a further 19 which stand for $17,500 - $40,000. The next part of this series will focus on US sires which will be standing for $15,000 or less, then we will move on to Europe. And I am far from the only one who assesses value: all breeders make that decision nearly all of the time when selecting stallions, and so does ‘the market’; for this series I am adding in sires which the market has determined are value. The market is a valuable ally to have – probably more so than one opinionated individual such as myself.
November 20th, 2017
With the close of play in Keeneland Book 6 on Nov 18, the Kentucky November Mixed Sales concluded their 13-day run with gross receipts of $276,221,700. In the last five years the combined Fasig-Tipton plus Keeneland November sales have grossed: $271-million (2013), $269-million, $262-million, $269-million, and now $276-million. This doesn’t suggest the market is booming out of control, then again we can never be so definite about mixed sale catalogues being as consistent from year to year as yearling sales as the prices to a certain extent depend more on what is actually offered at the mixed sales. Having said that, though, the fact is the revenues haven’t varied more than 5% in the last five years.
November 12th, 2017
 Through the first five days of the Kentucky November sales—Fasig-Tipton November and Keeneland Books 1 and 2—exactly 1,400 horses were cataloged, 203 at Fasig-Tipton Nov. 6 (14.5%), and 1,197 at Keeneland 1-2 (85.5%), which ended Nov. 10. 
October 29th, 2017
Last week’s Fasig-Tipton’s October Yearling Sale posted gains of 39% in gross (up over $10-million) and 10% in average over 2016 and concluded a highly successful yearling sales season in North America, not just in comparison to 2016, which had dipped about 4% from the previous year, but also in comparison to 2015 post-recession highs. Literally 21% of the North American yearlings in sales we cover sold at Fasig October, which makes it a very important sale, even though its average of $36,507 was only 38% of the $95,699 average posted for the 4,688 yearlings sold in the North American sales we cover. The fact that one out of five yearlings sold in these sales were sold in Fasig October brings home the point that they sure can’t all be Book 1 horses. Interestingly, though, in a sale where records were set for gross and average, the median dipped by 17%, from $14,500 last year to $12,000 this year: polarization, for sure.
European Yearling Sales Show 8% Gain
October 23rd, 2017
North America’s yearling market has enjoyed gains in the neighborhood of 14% so far this year, with Fasig-Tipton’s massive four-day end-of-season yearling sale kicking off Oct. 23. Goffs, in Ireland, has a two-day “open” yearling sale with 480 cataloged later this week, and even next month, the opening day of Tattersalls’ December Sale (that means it ends in December, not starts in December) will be a day of yearlings Nov. 27.
Fappiano Rising
October 16th, 2017
In the annals of Thoroughbred breeding, it is likely the horse that caused Fappiano to split off from Mr. Prospector like none of his other sons, was the 1964 French Derby winner Le Fabuleux, who was imported by Bull Hancock in 1972 after standing his first six seasons in France.
History tells us there will be plenty of gems to be found
October 13th, 2017
In 1983, a Nijinsky half-brother to Triple Crown winner and then new hot sire Seattle Slew, who would become Seattle Dancer, set a world record for a yearling thoroughbred sold at public auction, for $13.1 million – a record that still stands.
A Big Week in Newmarket
October 8th, 2017
There's a friendly debate that takes place every year between North America's leading Thoroughbred auction house, Keeneland, and Europe's leader, Tattersalls, based at Newmarket - who stages the world's most important yearling sale, Keeneland's September yearling sale or Tattersalls' October Book 1?
The Great Leap Forward
September 24th, 2017
Finally the Keeneland September Sales got back over the $280-million mark at which it had been hovering the last four years, since the $60-million jump in 2013 marked the end of The Great Recession.
Keeneland Books 1-2_How Good Was It?
September 15th, 2017
This week at Keeneland, 681 yearlings sold in Books 1 and 2, grossing $196,645,000, and averaging $288,759. There have been 13 seven-figure ($1m+) yearlings so far, compared to nine in the first two books last year, and 116 yearlings which sold for $500,000+, compared to 96 last year.
An "Extra-Special" Day of Selling at Keeneland
September 11th, 2017
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).
Batters Up!
September 5th, 2017
Beginning with the $60-million increase in gross from Keeneland September 2012 to Keeneland September 2013, the last four years of Keeneland September (2013-2016) have seen 11,100 yearlings sold for a total of $1.114-billion and an average of $100,435. So we know what the target is: somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,775 sold for a gross of $278-million, and a $100,000 average.
September: The Big Picture and the Second Week
August 29th, 2017
When you look at the 4,309 yearlings catalogued over 13 days of selling, there's just no other sensible overall organizing tool we can use besides chronological: the first week will consist of the new Fasig-Tipton Turf Showcase on Sunday, Sept. 10, and four days of selling at Keeneland_Book 1 on Monday, Sept. 11, and Book 2 Tuesday_Thursday, Sept. 12-14._
Five Days in September
August 22nd, 2017
For the last four years, the Keeneland September Sale finished with between 2,744-2,819 yearlings sold, for gross revenues of $280.4m, $279.9m, $281.5m, and $272.8m last year, when the number catalogued jumped by 300 from 2015.
Fasig NY-Bred Sale Confirms Improving Marketplace
August 16th, 2017
Last weekend's Fasig-Tipton New York-bred sale rounded off the company's first three yearling sales of the season by setting new records for gross ($16.2 million), average ($89,088) and median ($69,500), and of course when we say 'set new records,' that actually does mean the metrics were actually higher, not just from 2016, but even from 2015, which we've been using as the benchmark year all through 2017.
Next Up: Arqana at Deauville
August 16th, 2017
TDN's Sue Finley is one of those who knows there aren't many places better than Deauville to attend a horse sale, so she's excited that Arqana is getting ready for four days of selling August yearlings, beginning with two select evening sessions, after racing, on Saturday and Sunday, followed by an Open session on Monday, and their V.2 sale, which is in a separate catalogue, on Tuesday.
Back to Business
August 9th, 2017
Now, I wasn't there to see the bidding myself, but I need to have a word with that canny David Loder about that $995,000 bid which bought the sale's only War Front colt right at the end of Tuesday night's session at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga; couldn't you just have rounded it up?
Saratoga Sires
August 1st, 2017
For the past few months_during the 2-year-old sales in particular_we insisted on making comparisons not just to last year's results but to 2015 as well, as there was a dip in North American sales prices from 2015 to 2016.
Tapit Top NA/EU Sire of 2017 Midyear ABC Runners
July 25th, 2017
Though this is no comment of how much it cost to produce or acquire them, this week we publish lists of the leading sires of 2017 ABC Runners at the midyear point. As mentioned, it's important to realize that Midyear earnings thresholds are only around 65% of the year-end earnings thresholds, so it is possible_even likely_that some horses which are A Runners at Midyear will not have any more earnings, so could slip to B or even in a few cases C Runners
Small Batch Sires: Frankel and Uncle Mo
July 18th, 2017
It's not that often that sire sensations appear, so for Juddmonte's_Frankel_(Galileo) to streak away from his fellow F2014 (first foals 2014) North American and European sires the same way Coolmore's_Uncle Mo_(Indian Charlie) did among F2013 sires last year is unusual: two prospective 'World Top Five' stallions in successive years.
Galileo: Back to Number One
July 12th, 2017
The Coolmore team has been floating the idea for a few years now that_Galileo (Ire)_might be an even better sire than their 14-time British and Irish champion sire, Sadler's Wells.
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