09/20/2007 12:00AM

Keeneland prices still strong

EmailBuyers hoping for bargains late in Keeneland's two-week September yearling sale were still finding them thin on the ground on Thursday, the 10th of 14 sessions at the Lexington, Ky., auction.

By 5 p.m., five yearlings had sold for $150,000 or more, giving a good indication of hot competition for the most desirable offerings. The top price at that stage was $182,000, which agent Tom Gentry paid for Hip No. 3456. That was a Hold That Tiger filly out of the Jules mare Julie Girl.

The mare did not win at the races, but she is a half-sister to a young sire whose progeny have lit up the board at recent yearling sales: Mr. Greeley. Her immediate family also includes stakes winner Majestic Legend and, perhaps most importantly, her daughter Bedazzle - the dam of the 2007 Kentucky Derby winner, Street Sense.

The Four Star Sales agency sold the session-leading filly.

A $475,000 Distorted Humor-Mysteries filly livened up Wednesday's ninth session and helped the day achieve increases across the board. McCarthy and Hertrich Livestock made the purchase from Calumet Farm. The session sold 286 yearlings for $14,670,600, up 21 percent from last year's ninth day. The 2007 average price of $51,296 was up 24 percent, and the $42,000 median increased by 40 percent.

Cumulative results were still mixed after a softer market than last year at the auction's opening two select sessions. Through Wednesday, the sale had sold 2,269 yearlings for $354,731,200, down 6 percent from last year, when 2,316 horses had sold. The cumulative average was lower by 4 percent at $156,338. But the median showed an increase, rising 13 percent to $90,000.

The two-week auction, which cataloged a record 5,553 yearlings this year, was to continue through Tuesday with sessions starting daily at 10 a.m. in the Keeneland sale pavilion.