09/13/2010 11:18PM

$2 million colt tops final select session


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There was another seven-figure colt Monday night at the Keeneland September yearling sale's second and final select session. The $2.05 million son of Distorted Humor did not bring enough money to bump Sunday night's $4.2 million A.P. Indy colt from sale-leading position, but his price - to an anonymous group bidding under the name Flag Lake #2 - gave auction-goers plenty to talk about.

Bloodstock agent Mike Ryan declined to identify his client, saying only that Flag Lake #2 represented overseas interests who are a new client to him and interested in racing.

"Top-quality stock, aim for the big races," Ryan said of Flag Lake #2's goals in the sport.

The Distorted Humor colt was consigned by the Farish family's Lane's End agency and is out of the unraced Storm Cat mare Angel's Nest. The chestnut colt is from the family of Miesque and Kingmambo, the latter a successful stallion for Lane's End who, at age 20, is expected to be pensioned this year.

The two select sessions combined sold 127 yearlings for $44,305,000, for an average price of $348,858 and a $285,000 median. The two-day buyback rate was 31 percent.

Monday's session sold 58 horses for $20,340,000. The average price was $350,690, and the median was $312,500. Buybacks for the session were 37 percent, up sharply from Sunday's rate of 26 percent.

The change in format made year-to-year comparisons difficult. In 2009, the two select sessions had a much larger two-day catalog of 418 yearlings, of which 222 sold for $58, 756,000, resulting in a $293,974 average and a $250,000 median. The buyback rate was 38 percent in 2009.

"We hoped the momentum from last night would continue, and it did, as reflected by a strong average and median average and median and continued consistent purchases, even though it is still a very selective market," Keeneland sales director Geoffrey Russell said. "One of our goals all along has been to broaden our buyer base and we saw that tonight. It was a great balance of domestic and international buyers."

"I think it's very encouraging that there's a good trade," concurred Lincoln Collins of the Kern Lillingston bloodstock agency. "The market has found its level. Horses are selling, and the really, really nice ones are making good money. It's fallen a long way, and there probably isn't much money being made, except in the most obvious cases, but at the same time horses are selling, people are buying, and there's a buzz."

The session-topping Distorted Humor colt was one of two yearlings to bring $1 million or more at the reformatted September sale's two select sessions. The select sessions were held this year at night, rather than in daylong sessions, and with about 50 percent fewer horses in the catalog as Keeneland sought to add glamor and convenience.

Benjamin Leon's Besilu Stable paid $4.2 million at Sunday's opening session for an A. P. Indy colt out of Grade 1 winner Balance; on Monday, Leon returned to buy a $410,000 Bernardini-Cuando Quiere filly from Three Chimneys Farm's agency. One other yearling, an A. P. Indy filly out of Secret Staus's stakes-winning half-sister Private Gift, was hammered down Monday for $1.25 million but was a buyback. The chestnut filly had been consigned by Greg Goodman's Mt. Brilliant Farm, which also bred her. On Sunday night, a colt closely related to the filly - by A. P. Indy's champion son Bernardini and out of Secret Status - sold for $800,000 to Sheikh Hamdan al-Maktoum's Shadwell Estate.

Sheikh Hamdan, attending the auction for the first time in three years, struck again Monday night for a $525,000 Dynaformer-Lady Ilsey colt offered by the Eaton Sales agency. But his brother, Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum, once a mainstay of the Keeneland September sale's select sessions, purchased only one yearling on Monday night. That was a $200,000 colt by his stallion Street Cry and out of the Storm Cat stakes-winner Hidden Cat. Holly and Craig Bandoroff's Denali Stud agency consigned the colt, who is bred similarly to Hidden Cat's stakes-winning Fusaichi Pegasus colt, Pegasusbystorm. That brought Sheikh Mohammed's total to two yearlings for a total of $650,000; he paid $450,000 on Sunday night for a colt by another of his stallions, Bernardini, out of Victory Ride.

In 2009, the brothers and another Maktoum family entity, Rabbah Bloodstock, accounted for at least 30 percent of the Keeneland September auction's select-session gross. They have continued to buy at this season's boutique yearling sales, but as Sheikh Mohammed's breeding program has burgeoned, and months after Dubai received a financial bailout from iots wealthier neighbor Abu Dhabi, the Maktoum family has trimmed its spending from levels seen in recent years.

Three yearlings brought $900,000 on Monday night.Headley Bell bought Hip No. 118, Eaton Sales agency's Dynaformer-Bank Audit filly, on behalf of Gretchen and Roy Jackson's Lael Stables, which bred and raced Dynaformer's son Barbaro to victory in the 2006 Kentucky Derbvy. B. Wayne Hughes's Spendthrift Farm also paid that figure for Hip No. 157, a Distorted Humor half-brother to multiple Grade 1 winner Pussycat Doll that Gainesway sold for Jess Jackson's Stonestreet Stables.

Bruce Lunsford bid $900,000 for Grade 1 winner Madcap Escapade's chestnut A. P. Indy filly, but effectively will only pay half that much, because he was buying out his partner in the filly, Hill 'n' Dale Farms owner John Sikura. The two still own the mare together, but Lunsford said he could not pass up the chance to keep a daughter of 21-year-old A. P. Indy that eventually will go to his broodmare band.

The final Storm Cat yearling ever to sell at public auction also went through the ring Monday night with surprisingly little fanfare. Consigned by the Bandoroffs' Denali Stud agency, the dark bay or brown filly brought $285,000 from Robert Krembil's Canadian-based Chiefswood Stables.

"We are a fan of Storm Cat, and we have two Storm Cats at home," said Krembil's son Mark. "We also liked her as an athlete, and the pedigree is a value to our broodmare band."

The filly's price was a far cry from the multi-million-dollar bids many Storm Cat yearlings commanded in the 1990s and earlier this decade, but the sale prompted some nostalgia for seller Craig Bandoroff.

"We've been fortunate to have some special ones in his heyday, like the ones we sold out of Serena's Song, publicly and privately," said Bandoroff. "It was a different time and a different era."