Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Keeneland yearling sale falls short




The Associated Press

        LEXINGTON - Caution was the keyword during Monday night's opening session of the two-day Keeneland July Selected Yearling Sale.

        Nearly half of the 78 horses paraded through the auction ring did not reach their reserve prices and were returned to their consignors unsold.

        If that wasn't enough to disappoint sellers already shaken by problems on Wall Street, only two horses topped the million-dollar mark before the final gavel fell.

        “I'm surprised and very disappointed,” said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland's director of sales. “We came in thinking we were going to increase our average.

        “We really didn't see our sales taking such a big hit. We have a limited number of buyers every year, but this year was really thin.”

        The top price of the night was $2 million paid by Sheik Mohammed al Maktoum of Dubai for a chestnut filly by Belong to Me out of Tomisue's Delight. But large numbers proved to be the exception and not the rule.

        Overall, Keeneland sold 41 yearlings for $15,740,000. The $383,902 average plummeted more than a third from last year's first-session average of $587,432.

        “The economy has everybody pretty cautious right now,” said Reilly McDonald of Eaton Sales, a top consignor.

        “It wasn't unexpected. It's really hit-or-miss with no in-between.”

        The evening started out slowly and never picked up any momentum, lacking the excitement and suspense normally present during Keeneland's annual glamour sale.

        Although many of thoroughbred racing's top owners and trainers were in the building or represented, few chose to take place in the bidding and uncharacteristically kept their wallets tightly shut.

        Nine of the first 16 horses through the ring did not meet reserve prices. An A.P. Indy filly reached a bid of $890,000 but failed to sell.

        Of the first seven that did sell, only one reached $500,000 - a Silver Deputy filly out of Apelia bought by Robert and Beverly Lewis for $575,000.

        Midway through the session, a bay filly by Unbridled out of Ivory Idol brought an $850,000 bid from Paul Manganaro of the Massachusetts-based JMJ Stables Corp.

        “We really liked her,” said Mr. Manganaro, whose 8-year-old son, John, urged him to keep bidding. “She's built and bred for the Triple Crown races.”

        It took nearly two-and-a-half hours to reach the million-dollar mark. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas signed the $1.35 million sales ticket for the Lewises and Overbrook Farm on Primewest, a dark bay Gone West filly out of Primedex.

        Then, in the sale's final moments, the $2 million bid brought a hearty round of applause from those in attendance.

        “She's the top filly in the sale,” said John Ferguson, who signed the sales ticket for Sheik Mohammed. “You have to pay a lot for the best horses.”

        That turned out to be the high point of the night as only eight horses cracked the $500,000 plateau.

        By comparison, five yearlings sold for $1 million or more during last year's first session, with three surpassing $2 million.

        Those in the sales pavilion hoped the bidding would be more spirited during Tuesday's final session, with several attractive fillies and colts by sires Storm Cat, Forestry, Kingmambo and Gone West expected to go through the ring.

        The top price during last year's July sale was a $4 million bid for a Saint Ballado colt out of Charm a Gendarme.

        A Seeking the Gold filly out of champion Escena also brought a bid of $3.7 million.

        Sixteen yearlings brought $1 million or more during last year's two-day sale.

        A total of 89 were sold for an industry-record average of $710,247.

        The world-record price for a yearling at public auction is $13.1 million, paid for Seattle Dancer at the 1985 July sale.

       



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- Keeneland yearling sale falls short