09/12/2007 12:00AM

First Keeneland open session posts gains

EmailThe Keeneland September yearling sale ended its third session--and first open session--Wednesday with a $1 million session-topper and reversed the pattern of losses for gross and average that the sale's two select sessions saw.

The third day of the two-week auction featured numerous high-priced horses, most prominently the top-priced $1 million Distorted Humor colt that sold as Hip No. 784 to WinStar Farm, which stands his sire in Kentucky. The bay colt is a son of the stakes-placed Saint Ballado mare Santa Croce.

WinStar vice-president Elliott Walden said that the farm had purchased the colt on behalf of a new partnership named Maverick Racing that involves WinStar owners Bill Casner and Ken Troutt and some of their friends in Texas.

Winter Quarter Farm, agent, consigned the session-topper.

The session closed Wednesday night with 260 yearlings sold for $52,835,000, up 9 percent from last season. Average price for the session gained 12 percent, rising from $182,170 to $203,212, and median climbed 7 percent, from $150,000 to $160,000. Buyback rates, however, rose from 26 percent to 28 percent.

Despite a record auction catalog of 5,553 yearlings this year, the third session sold fewer yearlings this season than last, 260 as compared to 265 in 2006.

Cumulatively, through the third session, the auction still showed mixed results. For 597 horses sold (up 1 percent), the three days grossed $198,212,000, a total that was down 14 percent from the same point last year. The cumulative average price of $332,013 was off 15 percent. But the $230,000 median was level with last year's figure. Cumulative buybacks were essentially level, rising slightly from 25.7 percent to 25.9 percent.

The sale continues through Sept. 25, with a dark day on Sept. 14.