Keeneland September Sale Profitable for Pinhookers

By  ,  September 8, 2018

Diversity of offerings lures yearling-to-juvenile speculators.

There is a good reason pinhookers gravitate to the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

For the most part, horses bought out of the marathon auction have proven profitable for those adventurous speculators buying yearlings to resell as 2-year-olds in training.

According to figures compiled by BloodHorse MarketWatch, the 485 yearlings purchased at Keeneland’s sale last year who were resold as juveniles this year nearly doubled their initial price. As a group, the Keeneland yearlings were bought for an aggregate $33,314,400, for an average price of $68,689 and a $50,000 median. When those same horses were sold as 2-year-olds, they grossed $64,336,287, a gain of 93.1%, not taking into account expenses from the time of purchase until resell. The resale average was $132,652, with a median of $70,000.

“This is where it happens,” said Wavertree Stables’ Ciaran Dunne as he inspected horses at Keeneland on a humid, overcast morning Sept. 8, two days prior to the start of the auction. “The meat and potatoes of what we do is Keeneland September. With the other (yearling) sales, you fill in around the edges.”

Dunne, who shops all the major yearling sales in search of horses on behalf of his partnership groups, said the critical mass of so many horses on offer—4,538 are cataloged for this year’s Sept. 10-23 auction (with a dark day Sept. 14)—provides diversity in all price and quality ranges.

“The beauty of Keeneland September is that with so many horses, (buyers) get spread around, so you have more opportunities, as opposed to boutique sales where people don’t miss any,” said Dunne, who like other pinhookers is always looking for value. “That (boutique sales concept) obviously doesn’t work for us when we’re trying to sneak in here and slide one out. In those smaller sales, you don’t have that opportunity.”

While the vast number of horses cataloged at Keeneland can appear daunting, Dunne said it actually plays into the hands of pinhookers who have a proven system.

“We have been in business for 20 years, and if we hadn’t done well at Keeneland September, we wouldn’t have been in business that long.”