Lexington, Ky - As this year’s Keeneland November sale draws to a close, the last consignors are packing up their trucks, and horses are climbing into trailers bound for their new homes. For some of those horses, the journey is going to be a long one, since international buyers were very active from the first session to the last.
As of the tenth session, three of the top five buyers by purchase totals were based outside the U.S., The top buyer was Mandore International Agency, which spent a total of $10,235,000 on five horses. Based in France, Mandore representatives could not confirm who they were buying for, but tended to favor horses with a propensity for turf racing, which is predominant in Europe and the United Kingdom.
Despite the American tendency to breed horses for dirt racing rather than turf, Margaux Farm manager Michael Hardy says there are plenty of good turf prospects for European buyers at this sale.
“They come here because you can get really very good pedigrees and probably pay a little less for them than you would have to pay in Europe”, said Hardy, who is Irish himself. “A European pedigree will sell here it’ll only be attracting the small group of European buyers that’ll come over here … in Ireland and England they have to compete with everybody… it’s kind of a horse by horse basis.”
Hardy said that in his estimation, European buyers are looking for value despite the shocking price tags they sometimes dish out since they have less competition for turf-heavy pedigrees.
The second-biggest spender was Brazilian group Borges Torrealba Holdings, which dished out an average of $1,057,400 on five purchases. Lexington’s Three Chimneys Farm recently announced a partnership with the Torrealba family, which operates TNT Stud in Brazil, in hopes to expand its international purchasing power. Most notable among the Borges Torrealba buys this sale was Day Two’s session topper Pure Clan, who sold for $4.5 million.
Big spenders are not the foreign interests buying horses at this sale, however. Korea and Russia are gradually strengthening purchasing powers at public sale. Both countries are experiencing increased interest in Thoroughbred racing and are trying to grow both their racing and breeding industries.
Korean buyers typically have modest budgets (think $20,000 to $40,000) and are interested in bringing home horses who may not be the cream of the crop in America, since they will likely be highly competitive compared to the horses on their tracks back home and boost the Korean industry’s bloodlines. Korea’s racing industry is sponsored by the country’s government, which contracts a sales agent to purchase stock in the U.S. and resells the horses back in Korea to private owners. These sales sometimes generate a profit, which is funneled back into the industry.