11/06/2008 12:00AM

Declines continue at Keeneland auction

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - The slumping Keeneland November sale entered its fourth session after three consecutive days of declines, but its Thursday session did feature a handful of big prices.

Southern Equine Stables paid $675,000 to purchase Sam-Son Farm's unraced 3-year-old daughter of A.P. Indy and Canadian champion Dancethruthedawn. Named Danceinthesunlight, the filly sold in foal to Forest Wildcat. Anderson Farm was the consigning agent. She was the first horse to sell Thursday.

That was the highest price as of 5:30 p.m. The second-highest price at that hour was the $400,000 that B.B.A. Ireland paid for Paramount Sales agency's Woodman filly Sally Wood. The 4-year-old was carrying an El Corredor foal. She is out of the Val de l'Orne mare Schonbrunn and is an unraced half-sister to two stakes winners.

Through Wednesday's third session - the last for which complete figures were available as of late Thursday afternoon - the auction had sold 523 horses for a gross of $114,725,000, down 52 percent from last year's total for 638 horses at the same point. The three-day average had fallen by 37 percent, from $346,610 to $219,359, and median dropped 34 percent, from $190,000 to $125,000. Buybacks stood at 28 percent, up from 21 percent at the same point last year.

The two-week auction continues through Nov. 17, with daily sessions starting at 10 a.m. A record 5,709 horses were cataloged this year.

Sales Integrity Task Force requests

The Sales Integrity Task Force on Thursday issued data showing relatively few buyer requests for steroid tests or ownership information at participating Keeneland, Fasig-Tipton, and Ocala Breeders' Sales Company auctions between July and October 2008.

According to the data, buyers requested steroid testing on 163 of 6,230 horses at nine auctions, beginning with Fasig-Tipton's July yearling sale and ending with the company's Kentucky fall yearling sale. Only one of those tests, at the OBS August yearling sale, was positive. But the task force said the buyer opted not to return the horse.

There were only two requests for ownership information from the restricted-access ownership information registry, where sellers may voluntarily submit the ownership interests in their sale horses. There was one request each at Fasig-Tipton's Saratoga select yearling sale and its Texas summer yearling sale.

OBS does not offer ownership registries, but it was the first to offer steroid testing of 2-year-olds. At its juvenile auctions, which were not included in the data's timeframe, OBS tested 53 of 1,558 horses, with no positive results.

"The good news is probably that activity levels don't indicate high levels of concern amongst participants," task force chairman D.G. Van Clief Jr. said. "Nonetheless, we will continue to monitor the markets closely to ensure that they are operating with the utmost integrity."

Mill Ridge and Taylor Made set fees

Mill Ridge Farm will keep Gone West's stud fee at $85,000 for 2009, a move that is in line with other stud farms' decisions to trim or maintain fees in the difficult economy.

Gone West, a son of Mr. Prospector and the Secretariat mare Secrettame, is 24 this year. He is the sire of such runners as 2008 Grade 1 winners Marsh Side and Zaftig, as well as Grade 1-placed runner Satan's Circus.

Mill Ridge also announced it would lower the fee for Gone West's Breeders' Cup-winning son Johar for 2009. The 9-year-old son of champion Windsharp, by Lear Fan, will stand for $10,000, down from his 2008 listing of $12,500. Johar won the 2003 Breeders' Cup Turf in a dead heat with High Chaparral. In his first crop to race this season, Johar has sired 8 winners from 27 starters.

Also lowering fees next year is Taylor Made. The farm will stand flagship sire Unbridled's Song for his 2008 fee of $150,000 again in 2009, but it will aggressively cut fees for six other sires it stands alone or in partnership with WinStar. They are Forestry, who drops from $100,000 to $40,000; Forest Danger, from $20,000 to $12,500; Half Ours, from $15,000 to $12,500; Northern Afleet, from $10,000 to $7,500; Officer, from $35,000 to $17,500; and Southern Image, from $10,000 to $7,500.

In addition, Taylor Made will offer a 10 percent discount to breeders paying fees on or before Nov. 1, 2009.

Late Thursday, WinStar Farm announced its stud fees. The farm previously announced it would drop Distorted Humor from $300,000 to $225,000, and it has dropped two other fees. Bluegrass Cat falls from $50,000 to $40,000, and Speightstown goes from $40,000 to $35,000. But Tiznow, who got such Grade 1 winners as Da' Tara, Colonel John, Well Armed, and Tough Tiz's Sis in 2008, will jump from $30,000 to $75,000. WinStar will add a new stallion, Spring at Last, for a first-season fee of $15,000.

Fairbanks to stand in Pennsylvania

Graded stakes winner Fairbanks, by Giant's Causeway, has retired and will enter stud in 2009 at Northview Stallion Station's Pennsylvania division in Peach Bottom, with a $7,500 fee.

Northview will syndicate the 5-year-old for $30,000 a share in a plan that allows shareholders to pay in installments and eliminates expenses for the duration of the syndication.

Fairbanks initially had been set to stand in Kentucky, but Northview privately acquired a 50 percent interest in the horse from Margaux Farm, Team Valor, and the horse's breeders, James Mamakos, Chuck Kidder, and John Griggs.