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Bill's Columns
Date: November 20th, 2017
This article originally appeared in BloodHorse Daily.
By Bill Oppenheim
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.
What has varied is Fasig-Tipton’s share of the combined Kentucky mixed sale marketplace, which surged to 27%, or a record $74.2-million, in 2017. This is partially accounted for, of course, by Songbird ($9.5m) and Tepin ($8m) selling for a combined $17.5-million at Fasig, whereas Keeneland’s sale-topper was Stellar Wind ($6m). When you think one of them (Stellar Wind) is by Curlin, and another one (Tepin) is in foal to him, it’s not hard to understand why Curlin has now qualified as one of North America’s top five commercial sires.
At our request The Blood-Horse has tallied the figures for all North American mixed sales since October 1, which are included in these tables, so it’s not strictly about the two Kentucky November sales – but it about 95% is. The mixed sales actually divide into three sectors: in-foal mares; racing fillies and broodmare prospects; and weanlings. Of these, in-foal mares are the biggest sector, accounting for a little under half of the total North American mixed sales revenues to date. The other two sectors account for about 25% each.
You’ll recall our findings after the North American and European yearling sales that five ‘super-sires’ – Dubawi, Galileo, Tapit, War Front, and Frankel – had a total of 132 yearlings sell among them, for gross sales equivalent to $108,408,097, an average of $821,273. Only 1.4% of the yearlings sold accounted for 14% of the money spent, and averaged more than eleven times what the other 9,157 yearlings did ($73,601).
There was a similar separation at the top of the covering sires of in-foal mares in November. Blood-Horse figures disclose that, from October 1 through the end of Keeneland November, a total of 1,310 mares have sold in foal, for a total of $133,889,850 – an average of $102,206. Just 40 of those mares – 3% of the total – sold in foal to War Front, Curlin, Medaglia D’Oro, Tapit, and Pioneerof The Nile. Those 40 mares grossed $42,940,000, and averaged $1,073,500. So 3% of the mares in foal accounted for 32% of the total gross for in-foal mares so far. The remaining 1,270 mares sold in foal have averaged $71,614, meaning mares in foal to the five elite North American covering sires averaged almost exactly 15 times the average for all other mares sold in foal.
A total of 1,036 weanlings have been sold thus far, for a gross of $72,794,400, or, as noted, about 25% of the mixed sale total. The elite sires often don’t have that many weanlings sell: Tapit had three sell, for example, War Front just two. So the money is much more spread out and, as several commentators have noted throughout the sales, there has been very healthy representation among sires with their first crops of weanlings coming to market, in fact no fewer than 13 first-crop weanling sires have averaged over $65,000 so far. The 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah finished up with 10 weanlings averaging $445,500, which of course puts him in the commercial stratosphere, and confirms him as the best sire prospect to appear on either side of the Atlantic since Frankel. Along with Tapit, War Front, Medaglia D’Oro, and Curlin – and maybe his own sire, Pioneerof The Nile, American Pharoah looks certain to rank among the top five or six sires at the North American yearling sales in 2018.
Lane’s End’s Honor Code, A.P. Indy’s last top son, was a clear number two among North American sires with their first weanlings (I denote these as F2017 sires), with nine weanlings averaging $192,778. As we noted in our article covering the first five days of the November sales, though, there were no slam-dunks: American Pharoah sold only 36% of the foals catalogued by him (10/28), and even Honor Code was only 43% (9/21).
Lane’s End’s Liam’s Map ran third on average, with 12 sold (26 catalogued) for an average of $142,500. WinStar’s Carpe Diem has a lot of admirers, and had 17 sell (37 catalogued), for a $120,824 average. Hill ‘n’ Dale’s Bayern had 12 average $103,333, marginally ahead of Airdrie’s Summer Front (nine averaged $100,667) and Claiborne’s Lea, who had 13 average $93,538, which was an impressive 68% of the 19 catalogued. Lea stood for $12,500 when he first went to stud, but Claiborne has dropped him to $7,500 for next year; after this performance at the weanling sales it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t be pretty close to full for next year already. He looks like a big bargain, based on these results.
Lane’s End’s Tonalist averaged $89,467 for 15 weanlings sold, just edging another surprising $7,500 stallion, Darby Dan’s Tapiture, who had 13 weanlings average $87,208 – well over 11 times his stud fee. The WinStar pair of Constitution ($80,467) and Daredevil ($78,571, off a $12,500 fee but also now down to $7,500) come next, followed by Gainesway’s Karakontie ($70,850) and Three Chimneys’ Palace Malice ($65,083). Lea (68.4%), Tapiture (61.9%), and Karakontie (71.4%) were the only first-crop weanling sires among this top 13 to have over 60% sold, of their weanlings catalogued.
Among sires which had covered their first mares in 2017 and will be expecting their first foals in 2018, four stood out, with averages over $150,000: Darley finished one-two with Nyquist ($308,889) and Frosted ($235,000), followed by Claiborne’s popular Runhappy ($160,667) and Taylor Made’s California Chrome ($156,250). One odd thing we noticed among the covering sire statistics: after the top five covering sires, which we discussed, there were another six whose in-foal mares averaged $300,000-$600,000; another five between $200,000-$300,000; and just another ten between $100,000-$200,000. It seems like if 16 sires had covering sire averages over $200,000 there should be more than 10 averaging between $100,000-$200,000. Maybe that’s a weak spot in the marketplace and further evidence of the almost radical polarization we are seeing between the ‘elite’ and the ‘super-elite’, and the rest of the population.
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