04/06/2009 11:00PM

Baffert buys both Keeneland session toppers


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Keeneland April 2-year-old sale continued the season-long pattern of double-digit declines Tuesday night.

The two-day auction sold 66 horses for $11,805,000, down 28 percent from last year's total for 77 juveniles. The sale average of $178,864 was down 16 percent, and the $117,500 median was off by 22 percent. Buy-backs climbed from 38 percent last year to 44 percent in 2009.

Trainer Bob Baffert, who bought the sale-topping $1.9 million Vallenzeri for client Kaleem Shah on Monday night, came back to purchase Tuesday's session topper, too. That was Hip No. 203, a $475,000 Smart Strike-Private Feeling colt that Jerry Bailey Sales Agency consigned. Baffert said he bought the colt for a partnership headed by his longtime owner Mike Pegram.

The only other horse to bring more than $400,000 at the closing session was Hip No. 168, a son of the Deputy Minister mare Fiddlin Devon and a half-brother to stakes-placed Bear's Swan. Leprechaun Racing, agent, sold the dark bay or brown colt to Centennial Farms.

"We're always looking for a classic colt," said Centennial's Don Little Jr. "He had the pedigree behind him and he was a great mover on the racetrack."

Sale-topper Vallenzeri was the auction's only millionaire. Without an equivalent seven-figure horse, Tuesday saw a 46 percent decline in gross and a 34 percent hit in average, but the 15 percent drop in median was not as steep as the 27 percent decline seen Monday. The Tuesday session sold 35 juveniles for $4,920,000, yielding a $140,571 average and a $110,000 median.

Consigning agent Eddie Woods, whose horses included Vallenzeri, was the auction's leading seller with nine juveniles sold for a combined $3,132,000. The leading buyer was Kaleem Shah on the strength of his single purchase, Vallenzeri.