A colt by Practical Joke led the way Wednesday, kicking off Book 5 of the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in Lexington. Consigned by Bluewater Sales, Hip 2980 is out of Jetbird (Wildcat Heir), a half-sister to Group 1 winner X Y Jet (Kantharos).
“We were prepared [for the $250,000 price] because of the entire package,” said CJ Thoroughbred’s Corey Johnson. “We felt between $200,000-$250,000 was what it was going to take to purchase him. We were expecting somewhere around that number.”
On Day 9, Ashford’s Practical Joke was the second leading sire of the session, grossing $565,000 for five yearlings sold, with an average of $113,000. The leading sire of the session, Frosted, drew an aggregate of $617,000 for 11 sold, averaging $56,091.
“[Bloodstock advisor] Marette Farrell selected the horse for his fabulous physical and the potential there. We also believe that Practical Joke brings brilliance to the equation as an emerging top sire,” said Johnson. “Basically, we had a colt that was a really promising physical and by a brilliant sire that brings toughness to the equation.”
Johnson also pointed a little bit farther back on the page, with the appearance of several Argentine performers, including GSP Argentine mare Tripulina (Sings), a sister to Argentine GSW and GISP Tizna.
“I’ve also spent quite a bit of time in Argentina and watched that industry very closely and what I find is, those families bring soundness and durability to the pedigree,” he explained.
In foal to Bolt d’Oro, 13-year-old Jetbird realized $20,000 at Fasig-Tipton in February, while this May foal brought $27,000 as a short yearling from DKW Racing.
“Today, this was the only horse we were on,” Johnson affirmed. “I thought he is a physical with, just a little bit of vision, you could see where this would turn into a stunning racehorse. He may be just a touch immature but someone like Marette, who has done this for a long time, can see that blue sky ahead with these young horses. We may have gotten really lucky to find this kind of colt in Book 5.”
Through nine sessions, CJ Thoroughbreds, alone or in partnership, collected nine yearlings for a gross of $2.1 million. The operation’s top priced purchase was a colt by Not This Time (Hip 594), who realized $535,000.
When asked about the market thus far, Johnson offered, “I think the sale has been really strong. I can’t remember a Book 5 with that many people looking. The place was packed with quality buyers. I still see a lot of enthusiasm.”
Indicating that he was likely done on the buying side of things, Johnson said he would now put on his seller’s cap for Thursday’s session, offering Hip 3485, filly by Spun to Run, who is represented by his first yearlings in 2023. Out of Northern Netti (City Zip), the Feb. 19 foal is a half-sister to SW North County (Not This Time). She is consigned by agent Four Star Sales.
“We sell a horse [Thursday] and she had almost 30 looks today,” said Johnson, underscoring the strength of the current buying bench at Keeneland. “That is really a good sign. I’m very positive about the overall market. At times, it’s been difficult to buy a good horse within our budget. But that’s why you just have to work hard, have a great bloodstock advisor and hope some things fall your way.”
At the conclusion of Thursday session, gross figures for the first nine days came in at $379,373,200, dipping slightly from last year’s blockbuster renewal which generated $389,605,000 over the same time frame. During Wednesday’s session, 298 yearlings sold for $13,430,200, up 3.56% from 2022 when 329 sold for $12,969,000.
Both the session ($45,068; +14%) and cumulative ($180,396; 0.94%) averages rose, while cumulative median remained unchanged at $100,000 from last year’s sale. This year’s median of $33,500 was also up from $30,000 in 2022. From last year’s corresponding day, RNAs rose to 60 (+66.67%) for Wednesday’s session, up from 36 one year ago.
The 10th session of the sale resumes at 10 a.m. Thursday and runs through Saturday.