01/10/2006 12:00AM

Girl Warrior brings a million

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - A day after its opening session produced strong prices but no million-dollar bids, the Keeneland January all-ages sale got its seven-figure mare on Tuesday.

Girl Warrior, selling as Hip No. 598, brought a $1 million bid from Jere Paxton of Yakima, Wash., exceeding the expectations of selling agent Paramount Sales.

Earlier, one of the sale's most highly anticipated lots - Elbaaha, dam of dual Group 1 winner Electrocutionist, offered in foal to the fashionable sire Montjeu - appeared to hit the day's high mark when the hammer fell at $1.175 million. But that turned out to be slightly short of owner Ardenode Stud's reserve, making Elbaaha the day's highest-priced buyback.

Elbaaha may yet sell privately. As of Tuesday evening, her consigning agent, Shack Parrish of Indian Creek Farm, was fielding private offers from interested parties.

"It was close," Parrish said. "For a mare of that ilk, you'd be happy to take her back."

But at 6 p.m., the sale results still showed just one million-dollar lot, and that was Girl Warrior.

"That was awesome," Paramount's Pat Costello said as Paxton picked up his receipt nearby, behind the bidding ring.

"She was a star all week," Costello said of the 5-year-old Elusive Quality mare, who was consigned as a racing or broodmare prospect. "There's more racing left in her, and I think that's what helped her."

Already a Grade 2 winner, Girl Warrior had natural appeal for any buyer looking for some racing action. But Paxton, who went into the bidding believing he'd have to pay more for Girl Warrior, said he wouldn't give in to the temptation to keep the mare in training.

"She'll be bred," said Paxton, who operates as Northwest Farms. "If I raced her she'd be a 6-year-old broodmare next year, and I don't like that. She's worth more to breed and sell the foals."

Coming after a record-breaking breeding stock and weanling market in November, the Keeneland January sale posted dramatic gains in its opening session on Monday. The first session sold 250 lots for $22,373,100, resulting in an average price of $89,492 and a $50,000 median. The average price represented a 42 percent increase and the median represented a 43 percent increase. Gross also soared by 41 percent, up from the $15,831,100 that 251 lots grossed last year. Buybacks held level with last year's figure at 22 percent.

On Tuesday, bidding continued to run high, especially for mares. While no other millionaires had sold by 6 p.m., one came close. The Grade 3-winning Caerleon mare Solvig sold to Eugene Dixon's Erdenheim Farm for $950,000. Gainesway Farm, agent, sold the 9-year-old in foal to 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones. Solvig was part of Bentley Smith's dispersal of breeding stock, though Smith said Tuesday that he will continue racing a stable of about a dozen horses, mostly fillies. His holdings include Solvig's first two foals, a yearling Giant's Causeway filly, and a 2-year-old War Chant colt.

The second session grossed $24,626,400 for 246 lots sold, yielding a $100,107 average price and a $55,000 median. Those figures were up 10 percent, 16 percent, and 38 percent, respectively, from last season. Buybacks fell from 23 percent last year to 18 percent.

Keeneland January's high prices for mares took some by surprise, including Charlton Farm owner Rick Abbott, who bought Solvig on Dixon's behalf.

"Sitting at home a week ago, I thought we might get her for $500,000," Abbott said after signing the ticket. "When we got here, we were thinking $750,000, which is pretty much what everybody was thinking. But after yesterday, I called Mr. Dixon and said, 'We're going to have to rethink.' "

The prospect that Pennsylvania-breds will have more money to run for in their native state eased Dixon's decision to bid higher for Solvig.

"We're all very excited about it," Abbott said about recent passage of legislation that will bring slots to Philadelphia Park. "Since the slots bill passed, we have been inundated with people wanting to participate in the Pennsylvania program."

Abbott said slots could be up and running at Philadelphia Park this summer. "Even the most reasonable people I've spoken to are predicting $400,000 a day" in purses, he said, adding, "The prospect of high purses in places like Philadelphia Park has got people thinking."

Abbott said Solvig, a five-time stakes winner whose foals have yet to race, will head for his farm in Pennsylvania to foal. She will be bred back to Afleet Alex, who is standing his first season this year at Gainesway in Lexington.

The session also saw Richard and Audrey Haisfield's Stonewall Farm bid $885,000 for the Storm Cat broodmare prospect Cat Dancer, a full sister to Grade 2 winner Magic Storm sold by Overbrook Farm and William Marquard (Eaton Sales, agent). That sale, like the $1 million price for Girl Warrior, reiterated the value the market places on young broodmare prospects fresh off the racetrack.

But trade also was lively for so-called "short yearlings," weanlings who became yearlings on Jan. 1, 2006. As of 6 p.m., Tuesday's top yearling price was $260,000 for Hip No. 492, a chestnut colt from the first crop of 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft out of graded-placed stakes winner Boom Town Girl (Unbridled). Josham Farms, agent, bought the colt. Gainesway consigned the colt on behalf of Eldon Farm. That was the auction's second-highest yearling price at the time, behind the Taylor Made agency's $340,000 sale of a Deputy Minister-Princess Mitterand colt on Monday; Athens Wood bought that colt.

The auction was to continue at the Keeneland sale pavilion in Lexington through Jan. 15, with sessions beginning daily at 10 a.m.

Leading sellers

PriceHip No.Sex, AgeName (Pedigree)BuyerConsignor
$1,000,000598Mare, 5Girl Warrior (Elusive Quality-Qhazeenah) Northwest FarmsParamount Sales, agent
950,000400Mare, 9Solvig (Caerleon-Incha)Charlton, agent for Erdenheim FarmGainesway, agent for Bentley L. Smith
885,000502Filly, 4 Cat Dancer (Storm Cat-Foppy Dancer)Stonewall FarmEaton Sales, agent for Overbrook Farm and William Marquard
875,000320Mare, 7One for Rose (Tejano Run-Saucyladygaylord) Aki Kato, agent for Isami Nakamura Three Chimneys Sales, agent
700,000679Filly, 4My Friend C. Z. (Seeking the Gold-Glitter Woman) AGS Thoroughbred Ltd.Indian Creek (Dave C. Parrish, Jr.),agent