09/21/2009 11:00PM

Figures still dipping at Keeneland sale's midpoint

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Keeneland September yearling sale in Lexington hit its halfway point Monday, the seventh of 14 sessions. The glowering skies and heavy showers matched the falling returns, though the top prices at each session continued to hold steady at six figures, much as they did at this point last year.

At 4 p.m. Monday, the session leader was a $300,000 Afleet Alex colt out of the young, unraced mare Catch the Moment, by Unbridled. Tim Ritchey, who trained 2005 Preakness and Belmont winner Afleet Alex, purchased the colt on behalf of CJZ Stable. The Taylor Made sales agency consigned the bay colt. He is a half-brother to the 3-year-old winner Magicalcarpetride, who has won 2 of 3 lifetime starts to date, all at Delaware Park.

The buyers' list showed participation from a wide range of well-known bidders, from racehorse owners like Jay Em Ess Stable and Maverick Racing to pinhookers such as Becky Thomas and Nick De Meric - an indication that some big players were sticking around to look for horses at the sale's later days. Pinhookers in particular appeared to be increasing their buying activity in the auction's final week.

At Sunday's sixth session, 255 yearlings brought $14,843,000, a drop of 45 percent from last year's equivalent day, when 296 brought $27,096,500. The average price Sunday was $58,208, down 36 percent, and the $45,000 median represented a decline of 36 percent. The buy-back rate was 30 percent, well up from last year's Day 6 figure of 22opercent.

Lane's End Farm led all sellers Sunday, with 36 horses bringing a total of $2,007,000. Ben Glass, agent, was the session's leading buyer after purchasing five yearlings for $560,000.

Sunday's top-selling yearling was Hip No. 1,966, a $370,000 Street Cry filly out of the winning Dynaformer mare Manda Island. John Oxley purchased her.

The dark bay filly from Paramount Sales agency's consignment was one of nine yearlings to fetch $200,000 or more at the session.

The sale was to continue through Sept. 28 at the Keeneland sale pavilion. Sessions begin daily at 10 a.m.