09/09/2003 12:00AM

Filly attracts $3.8M bid

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Keeneland's September yearling sale rocketed through its second select session Tuesday with 17 million-dollar horses, including a $3.8 million Gone West filly.

This was the second of 12 sessions at the world's largest yearling sale, and it ended with an explosion of bids for the Gone West filly, a full sister to the successful young sire Elusive Quality. John Ferguson, seated next to his client, Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum of Dubai, signed the ticket for the filly, who came from the Three Chimneys agency and, with the select sessions of the sale over, almost certainly the sale topper.

Sheikh Mohammed and his arch-rivals, the team of John Magnier and Michael Tabor, were active all day at the Keeneland sale pavilion, helping to push the session to extravagant heights. But they were not the only buyers helping fuel the fire. Among other active buyers were Richard Santulli, Elizabeth Moran, Bob and Beverly Lewis, and countless others brought to the pavilion by the catalog's outstanding pedigrees.

On Monday, the sale got off to a fast start with 10 yearlings selling for $1 million or more; last year, the opening day produced six millionaires. Foremost among those was the session-topping $3.6 million Danzig-Queena colt that Helen Alexander's Middlebrook Farm sold to O'Byrne. The colt is a full brother to Grade 1 winner Brahms.

Opening-day gross rose 20 percent to $60,555,000, on the back of 166 yearlings, 19 fewer than were sold at last year's opening session. The 2003 opening-day average was $364,789, up 41 percent from last year, and median soared to $225,000, a gain of 32 percent. The buyback rate rose from last year's 28 percent to 30 percent.

Tuesday's bidding was even more aggressive, as the sport's big owners took their best shots at the final select session of Thoroughbred yearlings this year. Bob and Beverly Lewis, who had said they wouldn't buy yearlings this year, broke their resolution, spending $1.4 million for a Saint Ballado-West's Secret filly and $1.25 million on a Storm Cat-Good Example colt, among others. Trainer-turned-agent Mark Reid bought a $1.85 million A. P. Indy-Adoradancer colt from Lane's End, agent, for an undisclosed client. Elizabeth Moran's Brushwood Stables paid $1.8 million for an Unbridled-Storm Alert colt from Lane's End.

Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum, sometimes bidding from the Keeneland directors' room and sometimes in the arena, bought a $1.8 million Lemon Drop Kid-Snow Forest filly; a $1.7 million Kingmambo-Fantastic Ways colt and a $1.6 million Gone West-A.P. Assay filly from Lane's End; and a $1.1 million Rahy-Balistroika colt from Eaton Sales. Another Lane's End offering, a Dubai Millennium-Fitnah colt brought $1.6 million from Palides Investments. Shadwell Estate Co. bought a $1.5 million Fusaichi Pegasus-Sharp Cat filly from Mill Ridge, agent. Reynolds Bell, regular agent for Jayeff B Stables, picked up a $1 million Cee's Tizzy-Cee's Song filly from the Dromoland agency.

Interestingly, many of the biggest home runs came from smaller consignments. Matagorda Farm's three-horse select consignment sold a $2.6 million Storm Cat-Bluemamba colt to O'Byrne to score an enormous hit, in terms of select consignment average.

Greg Goodman's Mt. Brilliant Farm sold the $1.8 million Lemon Drop Kid-Snow Forest filly. Tom Evans's Trackside Farm sold a $1.4 million Old Trieste-Shining Through colt to Mike Ryan, agent. John and Martha Jane Mulholland's Mulholland Springs sold a pair of millionaires, the $1.4 million Saint Ballado-West's Secret filly and a $1 million Forestry-Shivering Six filly to Padua Stables. And Michael Byrne, agent, sold the $1.25 million Storm Cat-Good Example colt and a $1.2 million Kingmambo-Star Begonia colt.

Dubain Millennium colt coveted

The Tuesday session also featured the first Dubai Millennium yearling to sell at public auction, and there will be very few of those to come. Dubai Millennium, Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum's beloved champion runner, died of grass sickness in his first year at stud in England, leaving only one crop of foals, now yearlings. Only four are expected to sell publicly, starting with the $1.6 million colt out of Fitnah that sold Tuesday at Keeneland. A pair are on offer at the Tattersalls Houghton sale in England in October, and the last is cataloged to the Goffs Orby sale, also in October.

The Keeneland colt's buyer was also his breeder, but the $1.6 million yearling wasn't a buyback. The colt, a half-brother to Grade 1 winner Dreams Gallore and Grade 3 winner Fateful Dream, was bred on a foal-sharing agreement between Maktoum and Palides Investments principal Saud B. Khaled. Maktoum offered many such deals for breeders in Dubai Millennium's only year at stud, and when the Seeking the Gold stallion died, he went back to many with offers to buy the in-utero foals privately. But he and Khaled couldn't reach an agreement, according to Khaled's representative, Ron Wallace, and Fitnah's colt came to auction, effectively to allow one partner to buy the other out. Wallace said Khaled will put the colt in training, although his immediate plans haven't been settled.

The Keeneland September sale continues through Sept. 20, with a dark day on Friday. Sessions begin daily at 10 a.m.