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The following post was published earlier this week at Paulick Report.

At the opening session of Keeneland’s 2011 January Horses of All Ages Sale, those horses with racing performances at the highest level once again led the prices as Grade 1 winners Ave, Wickedly Perfect, and Negligee brought the three highest prices on Monday.

Ave is a bay daughter of Coolmore stallion Danehill Dancer out of the In the Wings mare Anna Amalia. Winner of the G1 Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont Park last October, Ave sold for $1.4 million, with Yoshiro Nakaji, veterinarian for Japan’s Shadai Farm, signing the ticket for Teruya Yoshida.

An elegant and very racy-looking filly, Ave drew compliments from a representative of a leading international farm. He said, “She is a very appealing type, with great quality and scope. I’d see her as more appealing to the Europeans or the Japanese because of their greater emphasis on turf racing.”

Not only did the top lot have outstanding international appeal, the session at Keeneland was strongly supported by overseas buyers at all levels. But the best licks came for the top lots.

Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales, said that “our top-selling horses today are all outstanding Grade 1 stakes-winning individuals, and there is no doubt that they generated a lot of buzz going into this session.” That buzz carried right through the day.

Earlier in the day, the last two winners of the Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland had gone  through the sales ring with notable success. Last year’s winner, Wickedly Perfect, sold for $800,000, and the 2009 winner, Negligee, sold for $625,000.

The Yoshida family again took the winning role in purchasing Wickedly Perfect. This time, Naohiro Hosoda, representing Katsumi Yoshida’s Northern Farm, bought the gray 3-year-old for that leading Japanese breeder.

A winner in three of her four starts at 2 last year, Wickedly Perfect won the Alcibiades and the G3 Sorrento Stakes, ran second in the G1 Debutante at Del Mar.

Sent to the sidelines after the discovery of knee chips following her victory in the Alcibiades, Wickedly Perfect is from the firstcrop by leading freshman sire Congrats and is out of the Tactical Cat mare Wickedly Wise. The filly, like Ave, was consigned by Three Chimneys Sales.

After the purchase, Shunsuke Yoshida, son of Katsumi Yoshida, said that Wickedly Perfect’s good looks made her “the best in the sale.” As an American-bred, Wickedly Perfect would have limited opportunities to race in Japan, and Yoshida said, “ I think she’ll be retired, but I’m not completely sure.”

Negligee was the first of this trio to sell, and that reflected the overall trend of the market on Monday, as prices tended to rise through the session, as buyers gained confidence and began to assert themselves for the lots they prized most.

Negligee, a bay daughter of Northern Afleet and the Relaunch mare Naughty Notions, sold to Fergus Galvin and Adrian Regan of Hunter Valley Farm, who were acting for an undisclosed client.

Regan noted that the 4-year-old is likely to remain in the States for the immediate future. There was no comment on the likely sire to be chosen for the mare.

All these sales reflect the depressed state of the American bloodstock industry, which collapsed violently in the wake of the global economic depression from 2008. After successive sales cycles when yearling and breeding stock values plummeted by 30 to 50 percent, all the value has been wrung out of the marketplace, and there is a trend toward stabilization and rising values.

Regan noted that, although they had to reach farther to purchase Negligee than had been hoped, the price “two years ago would have been more.”

Even in the context of a market that seems to be rising notably, the recovery still has a distance to go and still offers buyers considerable value for their purchases into the foreseeable future.

 

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