11/12/2009 12:00AM

Holiday Runner tops F-T sale at $2.15M

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Jane and Frank Lyon spent the summer topping select yearling sales with horses they bred at their Summer Wind Farm in Georgetown, Ky. On Tuesday at Fasig-Tipton, they topped a sale again, but this time as buyers.

Jane Lyon, seated on the edge of a row in Fasig-Tipton's pavilion, went a bid or two past her planned budget but didn't regret paying $2.15 million for Holiday Runner. The 9-year-old Meadowlake mare is the dam of Grade 1 winner Seventh Street, by Street Cry, and the Baccari Bloodstock agency sold her here in foal to Tiznow.

"She had it all: She could run, she was absolutely gorgeous, and she's proven that she's a producer, a Grade 1 producer," Lyon said. "It's a total package."

"It was a good bit more than we intended to go, but she is just one of the prettiest mares I've ever seen," agreed Frank Lyon.

Holiday Runner was one of seven horses to sell for $1 million or more Tuesday night, and one of two that brought $2 million or more at the one-session auction. Live Oak Stud general manager Bruce Hill, underbidder on Holiday Runner, came back to buy the other for $2 million. That was Private Feeling, the dam of Lookin at Lucky and Kensei. Taylor Made, agent, consigned her in foal to Mr. Greeley.

The auction sold 78 fillies, mares, and weanlings for $28,505,000, down 59 percent from last year's sale. The 2008 sale featured the extraordinary world-record sale of $14 million broodmare Better Than Honour and $5.7 million Stardom Bound, rendering year-to-year comparisons nearly impossible. The 2009 average of $365,449 was 53 percent lower than last year's figure, and the $170,000 median was off by 32 percent. Buybacks, however, improved from last year's 39 percent to 30 percent.

Among the night's other millionaires were $1.8 million Magical Fantasy, whom Teruya Yoshida bought from Eaton Sales, agent; $1.6 million Lady Joanne, in foal to Tiznow, whom Dr. Masatake Iida bought from Adena Springs; $1.5 million Black Mamba, whom Evergreen Stables bought from Taylor Made, agent; and $1 million Always Awesome, in foal to Medaglia d'Oro, whom Charles Fipke bought from Adena Springs.

Like Keeneland's November breeding stock sale earlier in the day, Fasig-Tipton also was afflicted by high-priced buybacks, though several quickly found buyers later in private deals. Ginger Punch, offered in foal to Bernardini, started off as a $1.3 million buyback before selling privately to Teruya Yoshida's brother, Katsumi Yoshida, for $1.6 million. (Katsumi Yoshida also paid a session-topping $2.25 million at Keeneland on Tuesday for Azeri, carrying a Distorted Humor foal.)

Temperence Gift - the dam of Grade 1 winner Gozzip Girl and carrying a Medaglia d'Oro foal - failed to reach her reserve at Fasig-Tipton on a final offer of $975,000. But sellers Liberation Farm and Brandywine Farm struck an $825,000 private sale with the DATTT Stables partnership led by Thomas Ryan.

Other high-priced buybacks still unsold at auction's end included Above Perfection, in foal to Hard Spun, at $1.15 million; Honey Ryder, in foal to Ghostzapper, at $1.25 million; and Diamondrella at $1.1 million.

The Lyons ran into the buyback problem earlier in the day at Keeneland, where they had tried for Grade 1 winner Swift Temper but did not outbid the mare's reserve price. Owner Mark Stanley bought her back for $2.05 million.

In a season marked by dramatic market contraction and catastrophic losses for many commercial breeders, Summer Wind's sale year has gone, as Jane Lyon described it, "unbelievably well." Their $2.8 million Storm Cat-Onaga colt easily topped Fasig-Tipton's Saratoga select sale in August. They came back with another Storm Cat colt, this one out of champion Fleet Indian, and took top honors again when he brought $2.05 million at Keeneland September. Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum bought both.

The only setback the Lyons suffered, and it was a significant one, was the death of Onaga just days after her son, a half-brother to Aragorn, starred at Saratoga.

"We're looking to replace her with something that was capable of producing the kind of horses we hope to breed," Lyon said. "Every now and then a horse comes along that is special, and we hope that this one will be for us. You don't find a mare that has done everything in one package that is relatively young and that is for sale."

Those mares still brought high prices, as Australian buyer Tony Bott observed after paying $1.5 million for Black Mamba.

"It was more than we thought," Bott said of the price for the Taylor Made consignee. "Obviously, quality mares bring big money. But we honestly thought coming here that the market should be down, we'd probably buy her for $1 million. I upped my sights when I heard there were another few people on her, but in my wildest dreams I didn't think she would go for that much money. The vendor should be very ecstatic, I would have thought."

Bott and his partner, Hong Kong-based owner P.K. Siu, are used to paying for quality. In June, they bid a record $2.8 million for three-time New Zealand champion Princess Coup at the Magic Millions national broodmare sale in Australia.

Bott and Siu plan to race Black Mamba.

"If she gets accepted, we're going to take her to Hong Kong for the international races in December," Bott explained. "She's nominated for the [Dec. 13] Hong Kong Vase, a 2,400-meter race on turf that's a Group 1 race worth about $2 million Australian. Whether she wins, loses, or draws, we'll take her back to Australia, and she'll go to stud."

Kentucky's November sales were to return on Wednesday to Keeneland, where they will run through Nov. 22. Sessions begin daily at 10 a.m.