The Keeneland January Sale concluded its four-day run in Lexington, Kentucky, on Friday with gross sales of $46 million, the second-highest figure recorded for the sale since 2008.

Led by the sale of well-related two-year-old Princesse Lele for $750,000, the auction turned over a total of $46,341,100 for 1,013 horses sold, an increase of two per cent over last year when the market was boosted by popular dispersals hailing from Sam-Son Farm and the Estate of Paul Pompa Jr.

The average of $45,746 represented a minimal drop of three per cent but against that, the median rose by 33.33 per cent to $20,000 to equal the record from 2014 and 2019.

“The January Sale continued the momentum of last fall’s September Yearling and November Breeding Stock Sales,” Keeneland President and CEO Shannon Arvin said. “We appreciate the cooperation of our sellers and buyers when the weather forced us to adjust the sales schedule a bit to keep our horses and people safe, and ensure consignors had ample time to show horses. But the delayed start didn’t dampen the enthusiasm to invest in Thoroughbreds and to participate in this incredible industry.”

Shannon Arvin: “The delayed start didn’t dampen the enthusiasm to invest in Thoroughbreds and to participate in this incredible industry”. Photo – Keeneland

Keeneland Vice President of Sales Tony Lacy was in agreement.

“We are very, very pleased with the sale,” Lacy said. “Continued competitive trade, high clearance rate and high median price have solidified some confidence in people who were nervous before the beginning of the sales season. They feel positive about moving forward into the rest of 2022 and are investing as such. The market is very broad in all respects; you’re not seeing the spikes and valleys indicative of a narrow market. Demand is strong, with multiple bidders on horses at all levels, but not overheated. Prices, even the higher ones, are fair, believable and sustainable.”

Particularly encouraging was the clearance rate of 80 per cent, with the domestic buying bench enhanced by participation from  buyers representing 16 countries. The 15 highest-priced horses sold to 13 different buyers.

“The high clearance rate continued through the middle and even lower end of the market, and that is really encouraging because this isn’t a barometer sale like September and November,” Keeneland Director of Sales Operations Cormac Breathnach said. “This is a new tax year and yet there’s the same hunger to buy horses where there hasn’t been for years. That’s a really good sign.”

The $750,000 sale-topper, Princesse Lele, a two-year-old filly by Quality Road out of Grade 1 winner Carina Mia, was sold to Three Chimneys Farm. Hill ‘n’ Dale Sales Agency, agent, consigned the filly, who is from the family of Grade/Group 1 winners Miss Linda (ARG) and Miss Match (ARG).

Carl and Yurie Pascarella paid $700,000 for the promising three-year-old Belgrade, who opened his career in December with a six-length maiden special weight victory at Fair Grounds. The Hard Spun colt was sold by Four Star Sales and will continue his career with Graham Motion.

Four Star Sales Managing Partner Kerry Cauthen acknowledged the strength of the January Sale market.

“Comparable horses have been selling well compared with previous years,” Cauthen said. “Generally, when you bring a horse to January, you intend to sell. The number of horses not sold on Thursday was incredibly low (13.09 per cent). That means people are buying, and that is the name of the game.”

The sale’s leading buyer was Larry Best’s OXO Equine, who spent $1.49 million on six horses. Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent, led consignors by selling 122 horses for $5,696,800.

Princess Lele leaves the ring after selling for $750,000. Photo – Keeneland