09/11/2008 12:00AM

$1.7M filly propels Empire Maker's average

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Empire Maker, the 2003 Belmont Stakes winner whose first foals are 3-year-olds this year, challenged perennial leading sire A.P. Indy for the top spot on the list of sires ranked by yearling averages for the first day of Keeneland's September sale.

Buyers bought four Empire Maker yearlings on Monday for a total of $2.63 million, or $658,750 per horse. Eleven A.P. Indy yearlings were bought for total receipts of $7.27 million, or $661,364 per horse, helped by the $3.1 million session-opper, a filly.

Empire Maker is currently fourth on the national second-crop sires list, with progeny earnings of $1,327,326 - a figure that does not land the son of Unbridled in the top 150 sires for North American earnings. Three of his horses have won a stakes this year.

The average for Empire Maker was skewed by a $1.7 million filly sold on Monday. His three other yearlings sold for $625,000, $140,000, and $170,000.

Among sires with more than one yearling sold on the first day, the rest of the top sire list was populated with the usual suspects: A.P. Indy on top, Storm Cat in fourth ($604,444 average for nine horses sold), Unbridled's Song in sixth ($493,214, 14 horses sold), Distorted Humor in eighth ($466,667, 12 horses sold), and Dynaformer in ninth ($417,857, seven horses sold).

Four horses made the top 10 with only one sale: Broken Vow, in third, whose one horse sold for $625,000; Sadler's Wells, in fifth ($600,000); Red Ransom, seventh ($475,000); and Saint Liam, 10th ($380,000).

Interestingly, only one sire in the top 10, Sadler's Wells, stood at the farms owned by Coolmore or Darley Stud, the two most powerful stallion operations in the world. Sadler's Wells was pensioned earlier this year.

Vallenzeri deal still in the works

J. Michael Paulson, who manages the racing assets of the Allen Paulson Living Trust, said Tuesday that he is still seeking to put together a private deal to sell Vallenzeri, the A.P. Indy colt who failed to reach his reserve at the Monday session after a final bid of $7.7 million.

"We're working on it," Paulson said. "There's nothing concrete yet. We're taking our time on it."

The $7.7 million bid was the highest ever for a yearling that did not reach its reserve. Paulson declined to reveal the reserve set on the colt - who is out of the Allen Paulson homebred Azeri, the Horse of the Year in 2002 and a three-time champion mare - but reiterated that the final bid was "very close" to the reserve price.