11/08/2010 6:26PM

Average price up but median down at Keeneland sale's opening day

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Keeneland's November breeding stock sale opened Monday in Lexington with three million-dollar mares and 2-percent rise in the average price offset by a 13-percent decline in median price.

Coolmore Stud purchased two of the three most expensive mares, starting with the $1.85 million session-topper Society Selection, a multiple Grade 1 winner in foal to Medaglia d'Oro. They struck again later in the day, paying $1.4 million for the session's second-most expensive horse, Golden Ballet. A Grade 1 winner, she is the dam of the 2010 Belmont winner, Drosselmeyer, and was cataloged in foal to Unbridled's Song. Taylor Made Sales, agent, consigned both mares.

The third mare to bring seven figures was $1 million Carribean Sunset. James Bester Bloodstock purchased the Danehill Dancer broodmare prospect from the Middlebrook Farm agency. Bester did the bidding for the Australian commercial breeding operation Kia-Ora Stud.

The first of 13 days' selling ended with 183 horses bringing $38,970,000, a 48-percent increase in gross that was helped by a 45-percent increase in the number of horses sold. The average price rose 2 percent, from $208,663 to $212,951. But the median price fell from last year's $160,000 to $140,000. Buy-backs decreased dramatically, from 32 percent in 2009 to a very low 19 percent this year.

"The list of top buyers is very international in nature - Irish, French, Australian, and Japanese. And the domestic market has been stronger than expected, so that's good as well," said Keeneland's sale director, Geoffrey Russell. "I feel like we're off to a good, solid start."

The top of the market saw competitive bidding, and Monday's session sold 15 horses for $500,000 or more, as compared to nine at that level last year.

Sheikh Hamdan al-Maktoum's Shadwell Estate Co. has been quiet at auctions of late but bought Monday's top-priced weanling, a $450,000 colt by 2006 champion juvenile and 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense. The colt is a bay son of stakes-producer Time for a Crown, by Time for a Change, and is a half-brother to stakes-winner Banga Ridge and Grade 1-placed Coronet of a Baron.
Paragon Farms, agent, consigned the session-leading weanling.

Coolmore came back to spend $410,000 for the Taylor Made agency's chestnut weanling colt who is closely related to ill-fated 2008 Kentucky Derby runner up Eight Belles. The weanling and Eight Belles are by the same sire, Unbridled's Song, and he is out of Be My Prospect, a half-sister to Eight Belle's dam, Away.

The Keeneland November sale was to continue through Nov. 20. Sessions begin daily at 10 a.m. in Keeneland's sale pavilion.