11/03/2003 1:00AM

Cash Run sells for $7.1 million

Cash Run sells Monday at Keeneland to John Magnier, who outbid his former partner in the horse, Satish and Anne Sanan's Padua Stables.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Cash Run proved true to her name at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale, where she sold in foal to Storm Cat for $7.1 million, a world record for a broodmare.

In fact, Monday's sale was a cash run on a level not seen since the heady days of the go-go 1980's, when multi-million-dollar horses were common. Cash Run was one of four fillies or mares to sell for more than $3 million at the auction, and the top-selling weanling, a Storm Cat-Spain colt, sold for $2.4 million, a North American record for a weanling colt. The other fillies or mares to surpass $3 million were Spain ($5.3 million), Composure ($3.6 million), and Golden Apples ($3.4 million).

The first of 11 sessions sold 174 lots for $69,661,000, up 18 percent from last year, when 186 horses brought $58,851,500. Average price jumped 27 percent to $400,351, and median rose 6 percent to $170,000. There were 11 million-plus horses, the same as last year, but the buyback rate climbed from 21 percent last year to 29 percent this year.

Cash Run's price, hammered on a bid from Coolmore boss John Magnier, beat the previous record of $7 million for Korveya at Keeneland November 1998 and Miss Oceana at Newstead Farm's 1985 dispersal at Fasig-Tipton. It was also the fourth-highest price ever for a horse sold publicly in North America.

There was more - or, more accurately, less - to Cash Run's $7.1 million tag than the lights on the price board suggested.

When Magnier bought the 1999 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner, he was actually buying out his co-owner in the mare, Satish and Anne Sanan's Padua Stables. It wasn't exactly an easy sale, because the Sanans wanted to keep Cash Run, their first Breeders' Cup winner and a major part of their broodmare holdings.

"We put her in the auction to dissolve the partnership," the Sanans' daughter Nadia, clearly dejected by the result, said after the sale. "It was bittersweet. We were the underbidder. Obviously, we wanted to retain the mare, but at $7.1 million economics take over and you let go."

The fact that two partners were dueling over their mare meant that each partner was, as one spectator astutely put it, "bidding with 50-cent dollars." In the end, the final price stands as a $7.1 million record, but practically speaking, Coolmore - already a half-owner of the mare anyway - will only have to pay half that amount to acquire the Sanans' interest.

Cash Run's $7.1 million price was the fourth-highest ever at auction, following the world-record $13.1 million Seattle Dancer (1985 Keeneland July); $10.2 million Snaafi Dancer (1983 Keeneland July); and $8.25 million Imperial Falcon (1984 Keeneland July). It tied the price for Jareer, who sold for $7.1 million at the 1984 Keeneland July yearling sale.

Cash Run also set a record for the Taylor Made Sales Agency, which has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with Cash Run.

"She was a record-setter for us," said Mark Taylor, whose family owns the 25-year-old Taylor Made operation in Nicholasville, Ky. "It's the highest-priced horse we've ever sold. We raised and sold Cash Run as a yearling, so she was a sentimental pick for us."

And profitable. The Taylors sold Cash Run, a half-sister to popular young sire Forestry, for $1.2 million at the 1998 Keeneland July yearling auction on behalf of breeder Shel Evans.

"She's a rare commodity," Taylor said, "and one that people are willing to pay a lot for to keep her in the fold. She's an anchor to anybody's broodmare band. She's a collector's item, and for a one-of-a-kind mare, you almost can't let economics be an issue."

Economics were precisely the issue for everyone else at the Keeneland November sale, and the prices were healthy, especially for those one-of-a-kind mares. A couple of hours before Cash Run cracked the ceiling, 2000 Breeders' Cup Distaff winner and all-time leading female earner Spain rocked the pavilion with a $5.3 million sale price. Like Cash Run, Spain sold in foal to Storm Cat. Bidding opened at $1 million and soared upward from there. Eventually, bidding from the walking ring behind the bidding arena, Lexington-based pinhooker Gerry Dilger got the mare. But it wasn't immediately clear who the actual buyer was, and Dilger was tight-lipped.

It was the most expensive ticket anyone could remember Dilger signing, and he did so with a hand that shook with adrenaline.

"Better go buy yourself a drink," a bystander suggested as Dilger handed the receipt to a Keeneland official.

"I'll need two!" Dilger said, and he was right, because the very next moment he took up the bidding again on Spain's weanling Storm Cat colt, who followed her into the ring. The final price was $2.4 million, a Keeneland November weanling record. Dilger's right hand wavered across another receipt, and then the notoriously media-shy Irishman bolted from the pavilion, having spent $7.7 million in the space of about 10 minutes. Dilger wouldn't comment about the transaction, but speculation swirled for the rest of the afternoon that he had made the buy on behalf of his pinhooking partner, Atlanta real estate developer Peter Blum. Blum also declined to comment to the press. Standing behind Dilger during the bidding was a phalanx of Coolmore men, including Magnier, drawing suspicion that they had also been involved. But they denied it.

Three Chimneys Farm sold both Spain and her weanling on behalf of the late Prince Ahmed Salman's The Thoroughbred Corporation.

"It's somewhat bittersweet," said Terence Collier, a spokesman for The Thoroughbred Corp. "It's a wonderful market, and the horses are bringing appropriate prices. In that respect, The Thoroughbred Corp. is extremely happy. Prince Ahmed spent hundreds of millions pursuing and enjoying success and anticipated it was going to continue for many years. He created a wonderful legacy, and the market has been very fair in its appraisal of that."

Cash Run, Spain, and Spain's weanling Storm Cat colt were among 10 seven-figure lots to sell. The others were $3.6 million Composure, in foal to A. P. Indy, whom Three Chimneys, agent, sold to Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum; $3.4 million grass champion Golden Apples, sold by Taylor Made, agent, to Shadwell; $2.9 million Arabis (Deputy Minister-Aishah, by Alydar), whom Middlebrook Farm, agent, sold as a racing or broodmare prospect to Aaron and Marie Jones; $2.2 million Saudi Poetry, in foal to Silver Deputy, sold by Three Chimneys, agent, to WinStar Farm, agent; $2 million Saganeca, in foal to Storm Cat, whom Lane's End, agent, sold to Magnier; a $1.4 million weanling Storm Cat-Serena's Tune filly that Hill 'n' Dale, agent, sold to Dell Ridge Farm; and $1.25 million Descapate, in foal to A.P. Indy, whom Lane's End, agent, sold to WinStar, agent.

The November auctions actually started on Sunday night, across town from Keeneland at Fasig-Tipton's Newtown Paddocks. There, the catalog consisted of only 101 horses and the prices were considerably lower. But the results were still good for a number of sellers. The evening's sale-topper was Win Crafty Lady, bought by David Plummer's ClassicStar partnership from Joe Greeley (Michael Barnett, agent) for $900,000.

After withdrawals, the auction sold 59 of 83 horses offered for a total of $5,160,000, up from last year, when 36 sold for $3,499,500. Average dropped 10 percent to $87,458, and median fell 25 percent to $45,000. The main good news was an improved buyback rate of 29 percent, significantly better than last year's 52 percent.

Win Crafty Lady, who sold in foal to the young stallion Giant's Causeway, has an enviable produce record. She's the dam of Grade 1 winner Harmony Lodge, Grade 2-winning millionaire Graeme Hall, and stakes winner Win's Fair Lady.