12/04/2008 1:00AM

Azeri to sell at Keeneland January

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Azeri will sell at Keeneland's January all-ages auction.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Azeri, three-time champion mare and 2002's Horse of the Year, will sell at Keeneland's January all-ages auction, which will take place in Lexington from Jan. 12-17.

Hill 'n' Dale Farm will consign the 10-year-old Azeri in foal to 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper. Hill 'n' Dale will represent the Allen E. Paulson Living Trust at the auction.

Azeri, a daughter of Jade Hunter out of the Ahonoora mare Miss Zodiac, is one of only six females ever to earn Horse of the Year honors. She won 11 Grade 1 races in her career, among them the 2002 Breeders' Cup Distaff, three consecutive editions of the Apple Blossom Handicap, and back-to-back runnings of the Vanity and Milady Breeders' Cup handicaps. She earned more than $4 million.

As a broodmare, Azeri has not had a starter yet. Her only named foal to date is a yearling A.P. Indy colt named Vallenzeri. She also has a weanling Giant's Causeway filly foaled in May.

The January sale will have a catalog of 2,379 horses. Azeri will be among 986 broodmares, and the catalog also will feature 543 racing-age horses, 834 yearlings, and 16 stallions. Catalogs will be available online starting Monday at www.keeneland.com.

Mill Ridge drops Gone West's fee

Mill Ridge stallion Gone West and horses at Glencrest Farm are the latest central Kentucky sires to get fee reductions for 2009 in response to the slumping bloodstock market.

Gone West, a 24-year-old Mr. Prospector horse, will stand for $65,000 in 2009, down from the previously announced $85,000, which was his fee for 2008.

Earlier this fall, Mill Ridge announced that it would stand Johar for $10,000 in 2009, down from his 2008 fee of $12,500.

Mill Ridge's managing partner, Headley Bell, said Gone West's new fee will be payable when the foal stands and nurses and added that the farm will adjust any breeding contracts signed under the horse's earlier stud fee.

Glencrest, meanwhile, has cut its stud fees by 33 percent, putting both Military and Champali at $5,000, due when the foal stands and nurses. The farm is also offering a foal-share agreement for every mare bred in 2009 and will give breeders 30 days post-foaling to decide whether to take the foal-share deal or pay the stud fee. Such deals are likely to become more common, bloodstock experts say, as the economic downturn increases competition among stallions for mares.

Other major nurseries, including Lane's End, Taylor Made, and WinStar, also have lowered stud fees since November, when the international breeding-stock sales began posting general 40 to 50 percent losses in gross revenue versus last year.

The fall breeding-stock sales' declines followed smaller drops in the yearling market, and many breeders now say they will respond to the weak market by breeding fewer mares or seeking as much value as possible in stud fees.

Lady Marian sells for $2.7 million

Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum took home another seven-figure session topper Wednesday, paying 1.8 million guineas for Group 1 winner Lady Marian at the Tattersalls December mare sale in Newmarket, England.

The price, bid by Maktoum's representative John Ferguson, was approximately $2,778,300.

That wasn't the only bright note at the sale's next-to-last session. After posting high double-digit declines in its first two days, the auction improved its bottom line in gross and average on Wednesday.

The session sold 160 horses for about $11,448,448, making a 1 percent improvement on the gross at last year's equivalent session, when 186 horses sold. The average price gained 18 percent, rising to about $71,553. The improvement in average was aided both by Lady Marian's high price and by the 92 scratches. A relative weakness in the breeding-stock market this year versus last was still apparent in Wednesday's median, which dropped 54 percent to about $20,065.

California-based trainer Paddy Gallagher was among the bidders for Lady Marian, whom Ferguson said would stay in training for Maktoum's Godolphin Stable in 2009. A 3-year-old Nayef filly, Lady Marian is out of the stakes-placed Shareef Dancer mare La Felicita. She is a half-sister to Group 3-placed Lucidor and has won 3 of 9 starts so far, most importantly France's Group 1 Prix de l'Opera.

Broodmares available in sheriff's sale

The Henry County sheriff's department will hold a no-reserve auction of eight broodmares and two weanlings on Dec. 12 near Bethlehem, Ky. Payment must be made in cash. The mares are "in good flesh," according to the sheriff's announcement, and all pregnant mares have been confirmed in foal and vaccinated with Pneumabort K. The mares include stakes-placed True Nic Pic, Royal Pet, and Spanish Vixen (in foal to Stormin Fever). Others are winners Regal Case, Princess Albadou, and Quite a Princess (in foal to Jump Start), placed runner Honey Launcher, and unraced Immaculate Star (in foal to Bowman's Band).

The weanlings are a Jump Start-Royal Pet filly and a Sunday Break-Honey Launcher colt.