Keeneland September -- Names, Top Hits, and More

In a post three weeks ago, I asked Are Names an Advantage at Yearling Sales? and indicated that I was surprised by the apparent advantage of named hips at the Keeneland September sale in recent years.  I promised to take a closer look -- comparing named versus unnamed foals by book rather than across the whole sale to eliminate any skew that high-end horses might cause -- and here's what I came up with. 

For these figures, it is assumed that it's advantageous for a subset (here, named foals) to have higher average and median prices than the overall population (here, all yearlings sold in a given book).  In addition to compiling the stats shown below, I looked back at the sale results for the past 10 years. During this time, names have been a distinct advantage for hips sold in Books 1 and 2, and a general disadvantage for those offered in the final several sessions, with middle books mixed. That disparity grew even stronger in this year's sale.

The following charts give some breakdowns from the 2009 Keeneland September yearling sale:

Book "Named Hips" Average
% Above/Below Overall Avg
"Named Hips" Median
% Above/Below Overall Mdn
1 48.4% 52.3%
2 43.1% 33.3%
3 -20.2% -5.0%
4 -15.2% -3.9%
5 -15.2% -16.7%
6 -10.1% -16.7%
7 -31.0% -26.6%


Book "Named Hips" Average
% Above/Below Unnamed Avg
"Named Hips" Median
% Above/Below Unnamed Mdn
1 60.5% 63.8%
2 49.6% 41.2%
3 -21.5% -5.0%
4 -15.9% -7.4%
5 -15.7% -16.7%
6 -10.6% -19.4%
7 -32.6% -26.6%


Book "Named Hips" Average
$ Above/Below Unnamed Avg
"Named Hips" Median
$ Above/Below Unnamed Mdn
1 $148,000 $127,500
2 $58,154 $35,000
3 -$14,739 -$2,500
4 -$6,063 -$2,000
5 -$3,659 -$2,500
6 -$1,135 -$1,200
7 -$1,931 -$850

To be fair, I also ran the numbers for this year's sale eliminating the Overbrook dispersal. (Overbrook's offerings sold at no reserve and many of the yearlings offered were outside of the standard fare seen at Keeneland September -- both factors likely to impact the overall sales statistics.)  So, looking at all sold horses EXCEPT Overbrook's dispersal offerings ... the numbers were about the same. The percentage changes at the top were a bit higher, and at the bottom a bit lower.  Pretty much a wash.

Okay, enough about names! 

Once the sale was over, I had my usual fun poking and prodding the final results spreadsheet. A few observations I made:

  • One thing I always like to look at is which sires had an overall improvement in their average price at Keeneland September versus lifetime average.  Of 227 sires who had at least one hip sell this year and at least one yearling sold before 2009, 44 beat their previous sales average.  At the top of the list:  no surprises with Medaglia d'Oro (SRO) or Street Cry (IRE) (SRO), and Candy Ride (ARG) (SRO) is a nice addition to the list -- all three improved their average by greater than $60,000. If any of you were watching for Birdstone (SRO) after his neat classic double this year... good call!  His Keeneland September average this year almost tripled his lifetime numbers. One you might not have guessed early on was Out of Place (SRO), whose $56,200 average at Keeneland not only eclipses his lifetime yearling figure ($8,386) but actually bests his lifetime 2-year-olds in training sales average ($56,125).He was helped along considerably by a $240,000 colt in Book 4.
  • Born in 1961, Raise a Native is the oldest stallion represented (in this case, as a damsire) at the sale this year -- he had two daughters with foals offered. (One was a $3,000 sale and the other an $37,000 RNA, by the way).
  • Foals of 1980, Cozzene and Dixieland Band have been the "old guys" for a while now, and they were again the oldest sires with hips sold the last two weeks.
  • Three yearlings -- all RNAs -- were by the color-producing sire Allamystique.  I haven't run a whole lot of numbers but it's clear we're seeing more "colors" represented at major sales these days. Allamystique had a registered white foal go through the ring, and a sabino colt that was officially registered as dark bay. Another hip -- an El Corredor (SRO) filly -- was registered as black. (She went for $47,000.)
  • Four yearlings offered were representing mares that had 17 foals each. They were all in later sessions (the end of Book 5 through Book 7). Two failed to meet reserve and the remaining two averaged $8,000... their breeders are probably wishing they'd retired the mares instead.

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