09/24/2001 11:00PM

2001 gross, average second-best ever


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Keeneland's 13-day September yearling sale ended Sunday - one day later than planned, after the Sept. 11 session was postponed because of the terrorist attacks - but neither the attacks nor the unsteady economy made a dramatic dent in the world's largest yearling market.

The official buyback rate rose from 23 percent to 28 percent, but revenue figures for the horses that did sell resulted in the sale's second-highest gross and average price. In the 13 sessions, 2,895 yearlings were sold for total receipts of $254,190,600 and an average price of $87,803. Last year's auction, which offered a record catalog of 4,650, sold 3,313 lots for $291,827,100 and an average of $88,085, both records for the sale.

Median fell seven percent in 2001, from $27,000 to $25,000.

This year's 13-percent decline in gross was expected on the basis of a substantially smaller catalog, which also had a boost effect on the 2001 average. Average this year was down just .3 percent from last year's record run.

The market's highest level was the healthiest, energized by such bidders as Magnier and Tabor's agent Demi O'Byrne, Shiekh Mohammed, and Prince Ahmed bin Salman. In all, 27 yearlings brought seven figures, well up from last year's millionaire figure of 20.

The 2001 September sale's top seller, a $6.4 million Storm Cat colt out of the stakes-producer Halory (Halo), also was within reach of last year's sale-record $6.8 million Storm Cat-Hum Along colt. This year's sale-topper is a half-brother to graded stakes winners Halory Hunter, Brushed Halory, and Prory.

As happened last year, the John Magnier-Michael Tabor partnership bought this year's sale-topper, who is the September sale's second highest-priced yearling ever. The auction's other major bidder, Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum, bought the most expensive filly this year, a $2.3 million daughter of Deputy Minister and the Wild Again mare Cinnamon Sugar (Ire).

Not surprisingly, Storm Cat was the auction's leading sire by average price; 13 of his yearlings sold for $22,835,000, resulting in an average price of $1,756,538. That is about 3 1/2 times Storm Cat's stud fee, which was raised to $500,000 for the upcoming breeding season.

The last yearlings by Mr. Prospector, who died in 1999, also fared well. Thirteen sold for $12,740,000 for an average price of $980,000.

Lane's End, agent, consigned the top colt and filly at the auction's second session Wednesday. That session was supposed to begin on Tuesday, but the terrorist attacks that day prompted sale officials to delay the session until Wednesday.

Although Magnier and Tabor successful outbid Sheikh Mohammed for the sale-topper this year, the United Arab Emirates defense minister was the auction's leading buyer by gross. His agent, John Ferguson, signed for 33 horses that cost of total of $27,835,000, for an average expenditure of $843,484.

Lane's End, owned by Will and Sarah Farish, led all consignors by gross, selling 113 yearlings for $31,103,800 at an average price of $275,254. Gracefield, the partnership of Ben P. Walden Jr., with Jim and Pat Bohanon, was the auction's leading consignor by average (three or more sold), selling 14 horses for $6,245,000, an average of $446,071.