The yearling sale at Keeneland takes place every September and lasts for around two weeks.
Used to be that a trainer could go to the sale during the last few sessions and pick up a couple of yearlings for free. Those that got no bids in the sale owned by breeders who hoped to get them to the races and couldn't afford the training fees, generally could be had by some simple good introductions and provisions of a reference or two.
September 2012, a new trend started and it appears that it is carrying on:
Not a single yearling RNA'd without a bid. Every yearling in the catalog was bid on.
This year, the September yearling sale resulted in the same outcome:
Not one yearling went without a bid. The prices were solid, the auctioneer starting bids at $3000.
No free yearlings this year, either.
The yearling sale is in stark contrast to the other sales. Breeding stock sales result in plenty of no bids.
The consensus among economists is that financially, the industry is suffering and going downhill.
I beg to disagree. It looks to me like the industry is in an upswing, at least as far as racing stock is concerned. The first three days or so are filled with the big money crowd. Horses go at prices that still stagger the average earning citizen's mind. Once Book 3 of the sale is over, the crowds have thinned out and the affluent bidders are largely gone, in come the pinhookers, the everyday small guys who take their yearly pilgrimage up to Lexington, KY from Ocala, FL and hope to pick up a well bred yearling to take back down south with them and break under saddle for the 2 year old in training sale.
It's a relatively short term investment with a chance to hit a pretty big jackpot.
Pick up a yearling for $10,000 in September. Get it ready under saddle for the April 2 year old sale and get a chance at selling it for around $100,000 if not more so long as the steed exhibits some speed.
Not bad odds, really. Infinitely better than winning the lottery.
While the overall numbers of yearlings offered have declined in recent years, simply due to breeders no longer breeding as many mares as before, undoubtedly due to the fact that finances are tight and the economy is bad, the number of buyers for yearlings hasn't wavered much. The result is visible today.
While not getting any free yearlings at the sale is a disappointment to some, the overall effect on the Thoroughbred industry is positive. While markets outside Kentucky are still softer, the prices here have been up and holding steady.
A relief for those of us who make a living in the industry and plan on continuing to do so.
Here is a link to the overall results: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/80801/sales-remain-strong-into-keeneland-session-11
Let's hope this bodes well for the future of our industry. It's time something holds strong in this economy.