Monday, September 8, 2003

Strong sales expected at Keeneland

The Associated Press

LEXINGTON - Buyers and sellers are hoping the Keeneland thoroughbred auction will continue the strong receipts seen at last month's selected yearling sale at Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Nearly 4,300 horses are marked for sale at Keeneland, which starts today and runs through Sept. 20.

"Some of the horses we have in the first book are tremendous, so we hope that will stimulate some fierce and competitive bidding," said Geoffry Russell, Keeneland's sales director.

Among the potentially hot bids: offspring of established sires Storm Cat, A.P. Indy and Unbridled's Song, as well as the last yearlings of late Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled.

Gross sales at Fasig-Tipton's Saratoga sale jumped 37 percent to $48.3 million from last summer's lethargic sales, while the average sale price rose more than 24 percent to $313,357. Five horses sold for more than $1 million, including the sale for $2.7 million for a colt by Unbridled out of stakes-winning broodmare Words of War.

"I think you have to go in - especially coming off a pretty good Saratoga - feeling at least fairly optimistic about the sale, if not a little more bullish," said Reiley McDonald, co-owner of Eaton Sales Agency, which hopes to sell about 250 yearlings at Keeneland.

Some yearlings that will be auctioned at Keeneland would have been sold at the July Selected Yearling Sale. But Keeneland canceled it because of the 2001 outbreak of mare reproductive loss syndrome in Kentucky.

During the outbreak, pregnant mares began developing weak foals, which needed days of medical treatment to survive, if they lived at all. Hundreds of foals died and thousands of mares lost pregnancies.

By the time the deaths subsided, about 3.8 percent of the state's foal crop and 15 percent of the foals that would have been born in Kentucky had been lost. • Keeneland's fall racing meet runs Oct. 3-25 (

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