09/13/2005 11:00PM

After initial fireworks, a solid Day 3

Alice Chandler, shown with the record $9.7 million Storm Cat colt that her Mill Ridge Farm consigned, will be the Thoroughbred Club's Honor Guest.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Selling remained strong on Wednesday at the Keeneland September yearling sale's first open session in Lexington. Buyers packed Keeneland's parking lot and the barn area was busy, as was the bidding arena.

As of 5:30 p.m., with the auction still under way, the third of 14 sessions was led by a $950,000 Unbridled's Song colt out of the Storm Cat mare Thiscatsforcaryl. Jess Jackson's Stonestreet Stable purchased the colt, a full brother to stakes winner Be Like Mike, from the Taylor Made agency.

The two-day select portion of the sale, which ended Tuesday night, grabbed headlines when a Storm Cat colt out of Tranquility Lake brought a sale-record $9.7 million bid from Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum. That colt, which Mill Ridge Farm sold for Marty and Pam Wygod, is the third most expensive yearling sold at auction and was the most obvious symbol of the select market's exuberance. Storm Cat was easily the most dominant sire of yearlings in the select sessions, with 22 of his progeny selling for a combined $44,625,000 and an average price of $2,028,409.

Those numbers fueled dramatic gains during the two-week September auction's first two days. The select sessions sold 372 yearlings for $187,214,000, up 24 percent from last year's gross for 349 horses. Average jumped 17 percent to $503,263, and median rose 10 percent to $285,000.

"We've always considered the Keeneland September sale the global marketplace, and today it proved to be so," Keeneland's director of sales, Geoffrey Russell, said after the record select sessions ended. "We've always described auction sales as theater, and I don't think anyone would deny this was some of the best theater anyone ever saw."

Russell noted that the owners of several major Thoroughbred racing and sales operations - not just their agents - attended the select sessions to do their own bidding.

Wednesday's sellers were hopeful they'd see a trickle-down effect - that buyers unable to keep with the select sessions' hot pace would stick around for a few more days and bid on the open yearlings.

The first lot in the ring on Wednesday suggested that there was indeed still significant money on the sale grounds. Hip No. 542, a Stormin Fever colt out of Madam Bear, got the third session rolling with a big number when Smarty Jones's trainer, John Servis, representing Fox Hill Farm, paid $410,000 for him. The Kingswood Farm agency sold the colt. Within an hour, John Oxley paid $675,000 for a Giant's Causeway filly out of Prospect of Joy from Michael T. Barnett's Blackburn Farm, which consigned her on behalf of Longleaf Pine Farm. Winchell Thoroughbreds later bought a $700,000 Cherokee Run-Checkered Flag colt from Bluewater Sales, agent.

If the market strength was rolling over from the select sessions to the early open session, so was the influence of Storm Cat. He was the broodmare sire of the $950,000 session-leading Unbridled's Song colt, and the grandsire of Oxley's $675,000 Giant's Causeway filly and the $410,000 Stormin Fever colt that Servis bought.

Bull Market retired to Buck Pond

Bull Market, a Grade 2-placed son of Holy Bull who finished fourth in the 2002 Breeders' Cup Juvenile, has retired from the racetrack and will stand at Buck Pond Farm in Versailles, Ky., starting in 2006. His fee has not yet been announced.

Bull Market, a 5-year-old, is the 10th stallion on Buck Pond's expanding roster and is available for viewing during the fall sales. He leaves training with a lifetime record of 13-4-2-2 and $232,856 in earnings.

Bull Market is out of the Capote mare Capote Miss, making him a full brother to stakes winner Tru Bull. His dam, a daughter of the Northern Dancer mare Misukaw, is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Share the Fantasy, Grade 2 winner Tokatee, and graded-placed stakes winner Northern Majesty.

Thoroughbred Club honors Chandler

Alice Chandler, whose Mill Ridge Farm in Lexington consigned the Keeneland September sale's record $9.7 million Storm Cat colt on Tuesday, will be the 2005 Honor Guest at the Thoroughbred Club of America's annual testimonial dinner in Lexington on Nov. 5.

Chandler built Mill Ridge on part of the property that made up her late father Hal Price Headley's farm. Headley, a founder of the Keeneland Association, was a Thoroughbred Club of America Honor Guest in 1941.

Chandler's successes as a breeder include breeding Sir Ivor, who sold to Raymond Guest for $42,000 at Keeneland and went on to win the 1968 Epsom Derby - a victory that is credited with helping to boost European buyers' interest in Kentucky-bred racehorses.

Mill Ridge is a stallion farm - it stands Gone West, Diesis, and Johar - but also is a longtime consigning agent on behalf of Chandler and various clients, as well as a boarding facility. Among its most notable recent graduates are 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo, 2001 Horse of the Year Point Given, and 2004 champion juvenile filly Sweet Catomine. It was on behalf of Sweet Catomine's owners, Marty and Pam Wygod, that Mill Ridge consigned the $9.7 million Storm Cat-Tranquility Lake colt to the Keeneland auction.

Chandler also is a member of The Jockey Club, the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, the Kentucky Equine Research Foundation, and the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority's Equine Drug Testing Council. She also is a past president of the Kentucky Thorough-bred Association/Kentucky Thorough-bred Owners and Breeders.