The Keeneland September Yearling Sale concluded on Sunday, September 26 with across-the-board increases.

Receipts for the 14-day auction totaled $198,257,900, for an average $64,811 and a median of $25,000. In 2009, gross sales were $191,859,200, for an average of $60,734 and a median of $22,000. This year, 3,059 yearlings were sold compared to 3,159 in 2009. The reserve-not-attained rate was 26.7 percent compared to 27.5 percent in 2009.

An A.P. Indy colt out of multiple G1 stakes winner Balance brought $4.2 million on opening night. It was the highest price paid for a yearling at the September Sale since 2006.

“The success of the September Sale is borne out by a number of positive indicators – high volume of trade, a deep buying bench and strong average and median prices,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales. “Since this is the industry’s most important sale, it has long been the barometer of the health of the North American industry.”

This year’s auction opened with two select evening sessions designed to create excitement and momentum that would carry forward into the following days of the sale. Keeneland also reformatted its first-week catalog to present yearlings alphabetically by dam, instead of as previously ranked by pedigree and conformation.

“One of our goals with the format change was to get more buyers to market, and we succeeded,” Russell said. “We saw a great mix of old and new faces, both domestic and foreign, and they stayed longer into the sale. Trading was very evenly spread among a number of buyers. That is a very healthy sign.”

Trainer Tim Hamm agreed that market conditions and a change in buying strategies by some parties sparked more diverse participation.

“Buyers had more opportunity to get better pedigrees than in the past and to really get involved in the early part of the sale,” he said. “Before we were kind of shut out…”

Keeneland collaborated with consignors to develop the new format. “Our consignors deserve a good deal of credit; they’ve been supportive of the format changes and really brought some good stock to market,” he said. “Their ability to evaluate the market was key to the strong clearance rate.”

Buyers from nearly every state and 39 countries were represented, producing high traffic in the barns and competitive bidding throughout the sale.

“The sale has been very positive. We’ve had a lot of volume at the barns,” said Tom Eastham of Legacy Bloodstock. “Different buyers from different regions with different business plans stayed around to see these horses. (The new format) allowed us to spread interest throughout our consignments.”

Three yearlings sold for $1 million or more, highlighted by the $4.2 million paid by Miami-based healthcare mogul Benjamin Leon Jr. for the A.P. Indy colt. Leon, a noted Paso Fino breeder but relative newcomer to the Thoroughbred industry, signed the ticket in the name of his Besilu Stables. The colt was consigned by Mill Ridge Sales, agent.

Bloodstock agent Mike Ryan, in the name of Flag Lake #2, went to $2.05 million to acquire a colt by Distorted Humor. Consigned by Lane’s End, agent, the colt is out of the Storm Cat mare Angel’s Nest, a daughter of European champion Miesque. San Francisco businessman George Bolton purchased a colt by Smart Strike out of the graded stakes-winning Seattle Slew mare Ask Me No Secrets for $1 million from Bruce Gibbs’ Greenfield Farm, agent.

For the seventh consecutive year, Taylor Made Sales Agency ranked as the leading September Sale consignor, selling 341 yearlings for $28,873,800.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Shadwell Estate Company Ltd was the sale’s leading buyer, purchasing 22 yearlings for $8,230,000.