09/19/2003 11:00PM

Keeneland final numbers soar

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Keeneland's 12-day September yearling auction ended its surprisingly strong run on Saturday with dramatic gains across the board.

Topped by a $3.8 million Gone West filly that Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum bought from Three Chimneys, agent, the marathon sale ultimately closed with steep increases of 30 percent in gross receipts and 29 percent in the average price, and a 13 percent gain in the median.

The auction sold 2,969 yearlings for a total of $274,125,300, producing an average price of $92,329 and a median of $34,000. Last year, the sale sold 2,934 lots for $210,809,000, yielding an average price of $71,850 and a $30,000 median.

The sale-topping filly sold on Sept. 9 and was one of two lots to break the $3 million mark during the pair of select sessions that traditionally open the auction. A daughter of the unraced Hero's Honor mare Touch of Greatness, she is a full sister to Grade 3 winner and successful young sire Elusive Quality. She also is a half-sister to Irish champion Rossini. Sheikh Mohammed, who attended the sale and was present in the pavilion with agent John Ferguson during the bidding, outdueled the filly's co-breeder, Richard Santulli, for the top lot.

The other lot to crack $3 million was a $3.6 million Danzig colt out of Queena, a full brother to Grade 1 winner and stallion Brahms. Coolmore boss John Magnier and Michael Tabor, represented by agent Demi O'Byrne, bought the colt on Sept. 8 at the auction's opening session.

Lane's End was the auction's leading seller by gross with $32,924,400 in total revenue. Sheikh Mohammed's adviser, Ferguson, was the top buyer at the sale, spending a total of $20,990,000.

By Saturday's final session, such heady prices were long gone, and the session was the first to post negative results for average and median. The Saturday session sold 173 yearlings for a total for $1,349,100. That was up 6 percent from the gross at last year's equivalent session, but the final day's average price slipped 5 percent to $7,798, and the median dropped 9 percent to $5,000.

The final session's top price was $55,000 for a Kissin Kris filly out of the Gold Alert mare Herat's Goldengirl. Fred Edick bought the filly from Oak Lawn Farm, agent.