01/10/2003 1:00AM

Keeneland numbers down


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The five-day Keeneland January auction of horses of all ages ended Friday with declines across the board as expected.

With no star in the catalog, the auction was what Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland's director of sales, called "a typical January sale." It was a deflation from the past several years, in which unusually high quality stock had produced seven-figure sales, like that of Mackie, who sold for $5 million in 2000.

The 2003 auction, led by a $475,000 sale-topper, sold 1,185 lots for $31,186,000, down 10 percent from last year's sale, when 936 horses brought $34,688,000. The average price slipped 29 percent to $26,317, and the median fell 22 percent to $10,000.

The sale-topper was 13-year-old Belle Nuit, a Dr. Carter mare in foal to Unbridled's Song. Taylor Made Sales Agency consigned her, and Louis Brooks Ranch purchased her.

Taylor Made ended up as the auction's leading seller, grossing $4,064,600 for its consignment, easily outdistancing the second-leading consignor, Eaton Sales, which grossed $1,962,200. Joss Collins's Blandford Bloodstock agency was the sale's leading buyer with purchases totaling $976,300.