09/16/2007 11:00PM

Gulf Coast Farms weighs in at Keeneland sale

EmailLEXINGTON, Ky. - Two colts that Gulf Coast Farms bought were the early session-leaders Monday as Keeneland's two-week September yearling sale kicked off its second week with a spate of six-figure prices.

Lance Robinson and Jerry Bailey's Gulf Coast Farms purchased the session-leading $325,000 Cherokee Run colt out of Informative as well as the day's second most expensive yearling by 5 p.m., a $300,000 Awesome Again-Divine Angel colt.

Hip No. 2246, the Cherokee Run colt, is out of a stakes-placed Tabasco Cat mare who is a daughter of multiple graded-placed Virgin Michael. Three Chimneys, agent, sold the bay colt. The Awesome Again colt sold as Hip No. 2183 and was consigned by the Taylor Made agency on behalf of Jess Jackson's Stonestreet Stable. The gray or roan colt is out of a stakes-placed Matty G. mare.

Sunday's sixth session produced strong gains across the board again, emphasizing the strength of the market for $150,000 to $400,000 yearlings. The Sunday session sold 288 yearlings for $28,302,500, up 8 percent from last year's sixth day. The $98,273 average also was up 8 percent, and the $80,000 median rose 11 percent over last year's.

Despite those gains, the overall market continued to bear the mark of the select sessions' declines. The first two days of the auction, its select portion, were considerably softer than last year, when heated battles between Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum and Coolmore's John Magnier pushed numerous yearlings past the $3 million marko- most notably sale-topper Meydan City, a sale-record $11.7 million purchase by Maktoum. Through Sunday, the last day for which complete figures were available, the Keeneland September auction had sold 1,409 yearlings for gross receipts of $303,573,700, down 8 percent from the six-day gross in 2006. The cumulative average was $215,453, down 6 percent. But the median was still on the rise, increasing 8 percent to $140,000. That suggested that, while the bubble at the top of the market had shrunk considerably, the wealth previously concentrated there was spreading to more sellers.

The two-week auction was to continue through Sept. 25.

Perfect Soul tops freshman sires

Freshman sires stepped to the fore as the sale headed into its second week when a $440,000 Lion Heart-Whattacapote colt bought by Mayberry Farm topped the Sunday session.

Through Sunday, according to SireAverages.com, the Sadler's Wells horse Perfect Soul was the freshman leader with an average price of $248,750, thanks in large measure to a $775,000 son of Silence Beauty that sold on opening day to Steven Silver. Perfect Soul's three other yearlings to sell through Sunday brought between $60,000 and $85,000; a fourth failed to reach her reserve at $75,000.

Smarty Jones retired to Three Chimneys with a great deal of hype after his 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness-winning season. Forty-nine Smarty Jones yearlings hit the sale ring through Sunday, and the ones that sold brought prices healthy enough to make their popular sire the second-leading freshman sire by average through that point, with $202,037. The most expensive was a $600,000 colt out of Top Rung that Glen Hill Farm bought. Twenty-two Smarty Jones yearlings failed to reach their reserves.

Champali was the third-leading freshman by dint of his sole sale by Sunday, a $200,000 Meadow Flyer colt that Maktoum bought.

Rounding out the top 10 were Speightstown, who sold 33 for an average of $197,879 with 16 horses listed as RNA for "reserve not attained"; Friends Lake, eight sold, $194,375, with two RNAs; Candy Ride, two sold, $185,000, with one RNA; Medaglia d'Oro, 29 sold, $174,000 with 15 RNAs; Spanish Steps, one sold, $170,000, no RNAs; Sir Cherokee, one sold, $150,000, no RNAs; and Strong Hope, 25 sold, $148,280, with nine RNAs.

Australia softens quarantine

Australia's Thoroughbred breeding industry, still struggling with its first-ever outbreak of equine influenza, gained a significant weapon Monday when the Department of Primary Industries in the breeding center of New South Wales agreed in principle to establish a zone in which mares could travel for breeding appointments.

Under the tentative agreement, reported by Racing and Sports, the government would allow restricted movement of mares between farms in the designated zone. Horses in a buffer area surrounding the so-called "purple zone" would also be vaccinated against EI in an effort to prevent the highly contagious - but rarely lethal - disease from spreading farther. The New South Wales government announced Monday that it would import 10,000 doses of vaccine to be used in the buffer areas.

"Mares coming in from outside the zone would have to stay in there, but the ones already within the zone would be able to move freely from farm to farm," said TBA president John Messara, who also operates the major breeding farm Arrowfield Stud, which stands top stallion Redoute's Choice.

In related news, Coolmore Stud has opted to send its popular shuttle stallions Tale of the Cat, Lion Heart, and Johannesburg back to the Northern Hemisphere rather than risk missing the start of the northern breeding season due to an indefinite quarantine in Australia. The trio will head back to the United States, Coolmore Australia spokesman James Bester told the Australian press. They had been located at Coolmore Australia, which so far has not had the disease, thus qualifying the three stallions for a special permit to travel out of the country to America, which requires that they come from disease-free premises.