11/10/2008 12:00AM

Half to Lyin’ Heart goes for $250,000


LEXINGTON, Ky. – The second week of the Keeneland November breeding stock sale got under way Monday amidst an atmosphere of worry for consignors, who have endured a week of market declines.

There was still money available for horses perceived to be each session’s choicest offerings. At 5 p.m. Monday, the eighth session’s highest price was $250,000 for a weanling Tapit-Rumba Punch colt. Ben Glass, agent, bought the bay colt from Jody and Michelle Huckabay’s Elm Tree Farm agency. The colt is a half-brother to 2008 stakes winner Lyin’ Heart, who also was runner-up in this year’s Grade 3 Bashford Manor Stakes.

That was one of five six-figure horses at the session by that time.

Sunday’s session, like the six that preceded it, ended with declines in gross, average, and median. Through Sunday, the seventh of 15 days of selling, the auction’s gross had fallen by 46 percent, with 1,397 horses sold for $162,319,700. Last year at the same point, 1,629 had sold for $302,303,900. The seven-day average in 2008 was down 37 percent at $116,192, and the cumulative median was off 31 percent at $60,000.

Buy-backs were up, climbing from last year’s 23 percent to 31 percent.

After a run of high-priced weanlings on Saturday, mares returned to the fore on Sunday as the day’s two most expensive lots. The session-topper was Walklikeanegyptian, a $220,000 mare in foal to young sire Perfect Soul. Arch Bloodstock purchased the 5-year-old Danehill mare from Glen Hill Farm. A daughter of Ahdaab, she is a graded-placed stakes winner and a half-sister to stakes winner Callwood Dancer.

Mullins siblings carry on family enterprise

At 20, Dara Mullins undoubtedly is one of the younger consignors at the Keeneland November sale. But she has a long and respected family history in the business, as the daughter of the late consignor David Mullins, and it is in his honor that Dara and her brother Chase, 13, are making their debuts as sellers this month.

David Mullins hailed from a family of great Irish trainers and brought the family talent for horsemanship with him when he immigrated to the United States in 1976. Under the Doninga banner, he sold such mares as Baby Zip, later the dam of Ghostzapper and City Zip, and Drina, later the dam of Spain. He also sold Saoirse, a Canadian champion, for $2.2 million in 2001.

Mullins, 51, died of pancreatic cancer in August. Dara already had begun considering a career in Thoroughbred sales, and with some help from his many friends, she and Chase decided to send their father’s long-planned November consignment through the ring. It hasn’t been easy in a market that is severely down since last year, but in the first week, the Doninga consignment sold seven of its eight mares for $605,000. Dara hoped the single buy-back, Yogi’s Beach Bar, could be sold privately.

“It’s been good, but this sale’s been a tough one overall,” she said. “But I’m having fun getting the experience myself. I’d like to keep the Doninga name and Doninga consignment going in the future, hopefully with Chase.”

Dara, a marketing major at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, has taken the semester off, and although Chase is in middle school, he is pitching in at the auction.

“When he doesn’t have school, he’s out here,” Dara said. “He likes to show, and I’m pretty sure he knows everything about every one of these horses in his mind. He doesn’t have to look at notes.”

Countless Mullins friends have helped Dara and Chase sell David’s final consignment. Bloodstock agent Marette Farrell helped appraise the horses. Consignor James Keogh has been serving as the consignment’s front-office man, meeting potential bidders at the barn. Longtime Doninga employee Terry Vanorio has been a prime organizer of the consignment and taught the younger Mullinses much about the business of selling.

Dara said she figures it might be some time before she’s able to come back again with her own Doninga consignment. Until she can go out on her own, she said she’ll try to gain more experience working with other consignors and do whatever she can in the Thoroughbred business.

Castleton Lyons ups Bernstein’s fee

Castleton Lyons is the most recent Lexington-area farm to announce 2009 stud fees, and, like others, its rosters have taken some cuts.

But the four-horse Castleton Lyons roster did include one fee raise: Bernstein, sire of Grade 1 winner and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies second Dream Empress, will go from $20,000 to $27,500. Sir Shackleton will stay the same at $5,000, and Toccet will drop from $12,500 to $7,500. Wiseman’s Ferry’s fee will be announced at a later date.

w In other stallion news, Darby Dan Farm in Lexington will stand unbeaten 2-year-old Run Away and Hide in 2009. The colt has retired from racing and will stand his initial season for $7,500. The City Zip colt won his three career starts, including the Grade 2 Saratoga Special and Grade 3 Kentucky Stakes, for earnings of $224,684. He is out of the Runaway Groom mare Jilted.