09/18/2008 11:00PM

Bernstein colt leads Day 11 session

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - The business of buying and selling Thoroughbreds continued as usual Friday at Keeneland's September yearling sale, and on Day 11 the theme was much the same as at earlier sessions: Yearlings perceived to be the day's best offerings brought six figures, but there was less competition for less obvious choices.

At 5 p.m., Friday's session-topper at $195,000 was Hip No. 3803, a Bernstein colt out of Sparkler that Gulf Coast Farm, a yearling-to-juvenile pinhooking partnership, bought from Buck Pond Farm, agent.

A day earlier, at Thursday's 10th session, the auction continued seeing declines, though less severe than the 25-30 percent falls on Wednesday.

Thursday's gross declined 16 percent compared to last year's 10th day, while average dropped 6 percent and median was off 9 percent. The session sold 259 yearlings, down from 292 last season, for an aggregate $7,386,400, resulting in an average price of $28,519 and a median of $20,000. Though some consignors felt they were getting fair dollar for their bloodstock, the buy-back rate - which jumped from 20 percent last year to 29 percent in 2008 - indicated that other sellers were indeed feeling the pinch in a market where a record supply of 5,555 yearlings meets gloomy economic indicators.

That kept the auction overall on a softer trend than last year. Through Thursday's session, the last for which complete figures were available, the 2008 sale had sold 2,492 yearlings for $313,084,500, a decrease of 14 percent from last year's edition at the same point, when 2,561 horses had sold. The 2008 average of $125,636 was down 12opercent, and the $70,000 median represented a 7 percent fall.

The sale continues through Tuesday with sessions starting daily at 10 a.m.

The Russians are buying

As turbulent as the U.S. stock market was this week, the Russian market was even wilder. After stocks dove precipitously there on Wednesday, Russia's RTS and Micex exchanges stopped trading and stayed dark again on Thursday. The markets opened again on Friday after news that the U.S. government was taking aggressive action to stem the global financial tumult. But stocks rose so dramatically that the exchanges stopped trading again. This time, Reuters reported, the halts were due to technical limits on how fast stock prices can rise.

But the roller coaster ride seems not to have affected Russian and Eastern European buying, agents for Eastern purchasers said Friday.

Jean-Pierre Deroubaix, whose clients include members of the Russian Jockey Club and bought 60 yearlings, said his buyers didn't trim their budgets, partly because they have less invested in the stock market at home than foreign investors do.

"There is so much to do in Russia," he said. "They have to rebuild cities and roads, and there is so much work for them in Russia that they hardly care about the stock market."

His clients are more worried about regional politics, said agent John Gasper, who buys for several Ukrainian owners.

"I think what's had more impact on them is the Russian invasion of Georgia," Gasper said. "Ukraine was part of Russia, of course, and I think the Ukrainians feel a little like if the Russians wanted to try to come back in there and take it over again, that could be a big problem. It's shaken up the economy over in the Ukraine."

Gasper said one of his clients who bid at the Sept. 8-9 select sessions also was disappointed in the conformation of the horses on offer, another factor that contributed to a cut in his spending.

"Last year, he bought two horses and spent $1.5 million, and this year he spent $325,000," Gasper said. "The other guys I buy for, last year they bought about a dozen yearlings, and this year they bought four, even though they spent a little more than they normally would."

In some good news, Gasper said his buyers had expressed interest in buying at the November weanling and broodmare sales. "But I guess that could change if things go awry over there," he said.

Galileo on the mend

Coolmore stallion Galileo is recuperating from colic surgery at a County Tipperary, Ireland, veterinary hospital, according to an online report on At the Races.

The 10-year-old Sadler's Wells stallion showed signs of colic Thursday and was sent to Fethard Equine Hospital near Coolmore's headquarters in Tipperary.

"We are delighted with his progress, and his recovery has been uneventful," the farm's general manager, Christy Grassick, told At the Races. "He is doing very well, and we expect him to be returning back to Coolmore very shortly."

Galileo, a champion and winner of both the Epsom and Irish Derbies in 2001, is one of Coolmore's most successful young sires.

Northview to open in Pennsylvania

Northview Stallion Station will open its Pennsylvania division, Northview PA, in time for the 2009 breeding season, the farm announced Friday.

The facility will be located in Lancaster County on 180 acres. The roster isn't named yet, but co-owners Richard Golden and Tom Bowman revealed that Medallist will be on the list. The graded stakes-winning son of Touch Gold left Kentucky's Three Chimneys Farm in 2008 to stand at Northview's Maryland farm.

Northview PA will have an eight-stall stallion barn, breeding shed, and 20 stalls for broodmares. Northview also will build two more mare barns in 2009 for use in 2010. In the meantime, Bowman and Golden said they will board Pennsylvania-bound mares at their Maryland farm and shuttle them in to breed.