Words like “train wreck” and “disaster” might be a bit strong, but consignors had to be thinking in those terms after all the key economic indicators at the first day of the Keeneland yearling marathon sale plummeted.

Compared to results for the auction’s first day last year, the gross revenue fell 55.5% while the average price dropped 35.9%. The median price declined 33.3%.

The opening session’s buy-back rate rose from 29% in 2008 to 41.2% this year, and for the first time at the September sale since 1996, no horse brought $1 million on the first day of the largest yearling auction in the world. Last year, there were five seven-figure horses, and the highest price was $3.1 million. Yesterday the session topper brought $925,000.

Virginia-bred yearlings also got off to a rocky start.

#33 CH.C. Mr. Greeley – Starr County, Eatson Sales, (Bred by Edward P. Evans) – R.N.A.*

#54 GR/RO.C. Storm Cat – Unrestrained, Lane’s End, Agent, (Bred by Edward P. Evans) – R.N.A.

#184 GR/RO.F. Pulpit – Ministorm, Lane’s End, Agent, (Bred by Edward P. Evans) – Out

#205 DB/BR.F. Distorted Humor – Probable Colony, Eaton Sales, Agent, (Bred by Edward P. Evans) – $300,000, Mike Ryan, Agent

*FYI, Quality Road was a Keeneland September R.N.A. and that worked out pretty well…

2008 – 154 sold, $56,047,000 gross, $363,942 average, $300,000 median

2009 – 107 sold, $24,949,000 gross, $233,168 average, $200,000 median