04/08/2004 11:00PM

Big spenders expected at Keeneland

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Keeneland April 2-year-old sale gets under way Tuesday in an atmosphere of unprecedented prosperity for the juvenile market. Fueled by the attendance of such important buyers as Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum and Fusao Sekiguchi, the major select 2-year-old auctions so far this year have produced world-record prices, and the question now is whether Keeneland can continue the trend.

Keeneland was one of two auctions in 1999 to post a then world-record price of $2 million for a 2-year-old when it sold La Salle Street to Demi O'Byrne, agent. The mark was first set a month earlier at the Barretts auction, which broke it in 2003 when Diamond Fury brought $2.7 million there. This year, the boutique juvenile sales have reached a new level with a $3.1 million Stephen Got Even colt and then a $4.5 million Fusaichi Pegasus colt (the current world record) at Fasig-Tipton Calder and a world-record $2 million Awesome Again filly at Barretts March.

It remains to be seen whether Keeneland can approach any of those records this year. But the auction's convenient scheduling during the track's spring meet, and only three days after the Blue Grass Stakes, gives it as good a chance as any sale to attract the kind of buyers that spend freely in search of top racing prospects.

Keeneland's juvenile sale is relatively new, but it has gained an important place on the auction calendar in its first 11 years. Last year, the one-day auction's average price was $167,500, its second-highest average ever, and although median fell 23 percent from the previous year to $98,500, that figure was still good enough to be the sale's fourth-highest median ever.

This year, the 265-horse catalog has gotten a boost from the estate of prominent owner Jeanne Vance, whose death in December 2003 unexpectedly put some well-bred bloodstock back on the market. The 11-horse Keeneland April consignment, handled by the Eaton Sales agency, will include three juveniles whose yearling prices averaged $600,000 and probably will contribute significantly to the Keeneland 2-year-old auction's bottom line. They are Hip No. 18, a Pulpit half-brother to Grade 1-placed stakes winner Willa on the Move; Hip No. 36, a Lemon Drop Kid colt out of Grade 3-placed stakes winner April Starlight; and Hip No. 208, a Fusaichi Pegasus-Rokeby Rosie colt from the family of dual champion Silverbulletday.

The Vance consignment also features five 3-year-olds and two 4-year-olds, including former $1.2 million yearling Eavesdropper (Kingmambo-Weekend Surprise) and $1 million Beaufort Scale (Storm Cat-Unbridled Wind).

The Vance horses, which are selling as phase 1 of a multi-sale dispersal, are obvious star attractions, but they aren't the only lots in the catalog with pedigrees of note. Among others of interest are:

* Hip No. 8, a Gone West colt out of Brazilian champion Virginie.

* Hip No. 26, an Exploit half-brother to Grade 1-placed Penny's Reshoot.

* Hip No. 27, a Forestry half-sister to Grade 1 winner Fowda.

* Hip No. 44, a Fusaichi Pegasus half-sister to graded winners Caller One and Prospect Bay.

* Hip No. 45, a Stravinsky half-brother to Grade 2 winner Read the Footnotes.

* Hip No. 86, a Coronado's Quest colt out of Chilean Grade 1 winner Donna Karan.

* Hip No. 101, a Cherokee Run half-sister to Grade 3 winner Morluc.

* Hip No. 124, a Pulpit colt from the family of Grade 1 winner Albert the Great.

* Hip No. 126, a Dixie Union half-sister to Grade 1 winner Tipically Irish.

* Hip No. 127, a Giant's Causeway colt out of millionaire Irish Linnet.

* Hip No. 137, an Aljabr colt out of champion Kostroma.

* Hip No. 142, a Seeking the Gold half-brother to Grade 1 winner Magic of Life.

* Hip No. 205, a Stravinsky colt out of Grade 1 winner Reluctant Guest.

* Hip No. 227, a Seattle Slew filly out of Grade 2 winner She's a Devil Due.

* Hip No. 232, a Dixie Union colt out of Grade 1-placed Sneaky Quiet.

* Hip No. 243, an Afternoon Deelites half-sister to graded winner Atlantic Ocean.

* Hip No. 246, a Golden Missile colt out of Grade 1-placed Swingin on Ice.

The single-session auction begins Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. Eastern in the Keeneland sale pavilion in Lexington.

* Marvin Waldman, a partner in the Red Bull Stables that bred 1976 Kentucky Derby winner Bold Forbes, died April 8 at age 68. Marvin and his Red Bull partner, Lee Eaton, formerly owned Indian Hill Farm in Lexington and bred such other noteworthy horses as Green Desert, Group Plan, Dunbeath, and Ali Oop, among others. He is the father of Ric Waldman, syndicate manager of Overbrook and Windfields Farms.

* Doncaster's two-day juvenile sale in England ended Thursday with a record gross of $7,474,058 (up 38 percent), average of $36,281 (up 37 percent), and median of $28,883 for 206 lots sold. The top seller was a $176,778 Intidab-Kheyrah colt that Graeme Redpath bought from Bansha House Stables.