Thursday, July 19, 2001

Spirited bidding at Keeneland sale

Final session spurs prices

By Steve Bailey
The Associated Press

        LEXINGTON — It took less than 10 minutes for the sparks to fly during Tuesday's final session of Keeneland's July Selected Yearling Sale.

        The third horse of the night, a chestnut colt by standout sire Mr. Prospector out of Nuryette, brought $3.6 million in a spirited bidding war between at least four prospective buyers.

        The colt was one of a handful remaining from the final foal crop of the late stallion, the 1971 July sale topper who produced almost 200 stakes winners before his death in 1999.

        “It's a lovely colt with an outstanding pedigree,” said bloodstock agent John Ferguson, who signed the sales ticket for Sheik Mohammed al Maktoum's Godolphin Racing.

        Less than 15 minutes later, Oregon timber magnate Aaron Jones paid $1.9 million for a roan colt by Unbridled's Song out of Rainbow Promise.

        Another son of Mr. Prospector, a bay colt out of Windy Mindy, soon brought another $1.9 million from Mr. Ferguson for Godolphin.

        “Obviously, he's been a fantastic stallion and is one of the greats,” said Mr. Ferguson, who spent $16.3 million on nine yearlings Tuesday night.

        A bay filly named Scene Seeker by Seeking the Gold out of Escena brought the top price of the night, a $3.7 million bid from Richard Santulli's Jayeff B. Stables.

        “We'd been trying on some of the others, but weren't successful,” said bloodstock agent Reynolds Bell.

        In all, 45 horses sold Tuesday for $37,365,000, down 2.5 percent from last year's Tuesday session. The average, however, soared to $830,333 from Monday night's $587,432 average for 44 horses.

        Eleven sold for $1 million or more, six more than reached that price during Monday's first session. Three brought more than $3 million, and three others brought more than $2 million.

        Figuring in Monday's numbers, Keeneland sold 89 horses for $63,212,000 during the two-day sale, down 22 percent from last year because of a much smaller catalog, which included a record-low 164 horses.

        During the 2000 July sale, 130 horses were sold for $80,732,000 — a then-record $621,015 average — including 24 that sold for more than $1 million.

        In all, 16 horses sold for $1 million or more during this year's sale. But Tuesday's high-powered bidding made up for the quantity.

        “We expected some fireworks tonight, and we got them,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland's director of sales. “We came into the sale cautiously optimistic, so we're very pleased.”

        A Saint Ballado colt out of Charm a Gendarme brought the sale's highest price — $4 million paid by Demi O'Byrne for Irish-based Coolmore Stud. That matched the $4 million paid for 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus in 1998.

PULFER: Keeneland sale

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- Spirited bidding at Keeneland sale