11/05/2001 12:00AM

$4 million for Twenty Eight Carat

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Breeder Elizabeth Moran of Brushwood Stable paid $4 million to bring one of her own back home again at Monday's opening session of Keeneland's 10-day November breeding stock sale.

After a prolonged bidding duel with Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum's agent, John Ferguson, Moran finally acquired the Alydar broodmare Twenty Eight Carat, the dam of Grade 1 winner A P Valentine. As if that were not alluring enough, the mare also is in foal to first-year sire and 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, who stood this year for a $150,000 fee.

Led by Twenty Eight Carat, the opener sold 152 lots for $48,735,000, yielding an average price of $320,625 and median of $180,000; nine horses sold for $1 million or more. The buyback rate was 37 percent. Keeneland does not offer comparative results for the November sale, because of the extreme variation in stock offered from year to year; often a venue for dispersals, the auction this year had no major dispersals.

"I bred her," Moran said after her representative, Reiley McDonald of Eaton Sales, signed the ticket for Twenty Eight Carat, who also produced stakes-winner Summer Bet. "I thought she was the nicest mare in the sale."

Moran, who sold Twenty Eight Carat as a 1991 yearling for $325,000, stood out behind the bidding ring as McDonald and Ferguson stood just three yards apart, raising each other in $100,000 increments even as the bidding passed $3 million.

Eventually, Ferguson shook the bid-spotter off at $4 million, and Twenty Eight Carat was headed back to her breeder again.

Lane's End, agent, consigned the session-topper to Moran, who declined to say whether she had partners in the purchase.

The second most expensive lot, $2.4 million Volvoreta, sold just minutes later as the final lot through the ring. Sold by Three Chimneys, agent, and in foal to Giant's Causeway, the Suave Dancer mare went to Klaus Jacob's Newsells Park Stud.

Amid war-related headlines and worrying news about the economy, sellers could take comfort that a range of American and European buyers like Moran and Ferguson were active. But their impact was mostly on the high end of the bloodstock market, their money rarely trickling below the $100,000 level to mid-market sellers.

Star bloodlines and covering sires, as always, were in demand at Keeneland, and Lane's End provided some of the best. Among their top sellers were $2.15 million Heeremandi (Ire) - the auction's only mare in foal to Storm Cat - bought by John Sikura; $1.95 million North of Neptune (Mr. Prospector), going to the Wertheimer et Frere stable; $1.7 million Jostle to Pete Whitman; and $1.45 million Majestic Role (Fr) to Skara Glen Stables.

Three Chimneys also consigned $2.1 million Snow Polina, in foal to Danzig, who sold to Newsells Park Stud, and $1.6 million Dreams Gallore, who went to Live Oak Stud.

The top weanling was a $1.5 million Storm Cat-Better Than Honour filly that Sikura's Hill 'n' Dale agency sold to Josham Farms.

Stormy Pick sold for $700,000

Sellers got a lower-key preview of the Keeneland market on Sunday night, when Fasig-Tipton's 60-horse selected breeding stock sale got underway. Taylor Made sold the Fasig-Tipton auction's most expensive lot, Grade 1 winner Stormy Pick, to Jaime Carrion for $700,000.

"I thought if she brought $500,000, that would be terrible," Duncan Taylor said. "She brought what she was worth, but the last couple of years she might have gotten more."

Overall, the brief session at Fasig-Tipton's Newtown Paddocks sold 35 lots for gross revenue of $3,421,000, sharp reductions from last year, when 57 horses brought $7,625,000. Average price plunged by 55 percent, from $133,772 last year to $97,743, and buybacks went up a tick from 41 percent to 42 percent. Median presented the only gain, rising 8 percent to $52,000.

Lane's End buyback

Despite selling Keeneland's $4 million session-topper and leading the auction with $15,260,000 in revenue, Lane's End keenly felt the sharp end of buyer discrimination on Monday. The fabled consignor bought back half its first 16 offerings, most in the $80,000 to $200,000 range.

"Fillies that are good race fillies or that are very young mares with good pedigrees, they're doing great," Farish said. "But mares that are a little older, even if they've produced stakes winners, they're not doing so well."

If upper-level buyers were keeping a tighter grip on their wallets this year, it did not seem to be because of mare reproductive loss syndrome. All summer, sellers had worried publicly that buyers might be wary of buying pregnant mares due to lingering fears over MRLS, which caused thousands of mares to abort early- and late-term fetuses.

Although buyer conservatism seemed more linked to the economy, some consignors took no chances. Farish offered print-outs of fetal ultrasounds. Three Chimneys offered transferable prospective-foal insurance on some of its pregnant mares.