09/25/2005 11:00PM

Keeneland sale breaks records


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The two-week Keeneland September yearling sale was a record-breaker even before it started, setting a mark for sheer volume at such an auction, with 5,110 yearlings cataloged this season. The world's largest Thoroughbred auction ended as a record-breaker as well. It sold 3,545 yearlings for a $384,349,900 gross, both world records, and also established a sale record of $9.7 million for a Storm Cat colt, breaking a record set at last year's Keeneland September sale, when a Storm Cat-Welcome Surprise colt sold for $8 million.

The 14-day auction's average price of $108,420 and median of $40,000 were also sale records, beating last year's records of $96,411 and $37,000, respectively.

The 2005 September auction also sold the most million-dollar lots seen at any Thoroughbred auction, 40, topping the previous mark of 39 at the 2000 Keeneland November sale. Heading that list was the $9.7 million Storm Cat colt out of Tranquility Lake, which Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum bought from Mill Ridge, agent, after a tense bidding duel with Coolmore Stud principal John Magnier at the Sept. 13 session. Mill Ridge sold the colt on behalf of breeders Marty and Pam Wygod. The colt was the third-highest-priced yearling ever sold at public auction, following $13.1 million Seattle Dancer in 1985 and $10.2 million Snaafi Dancer in 1983. Seattle Dancer and Snaafi Dancer both sold at the now-defunct Keeneland July select sale.

Led by the $9.7 million colt, progeny of Storm Cat hit new heights at the September sale. The 22-year-old sire proved a powerful draw for the world's wealthiest buyers, thanks in part to the recent successes of his fashionable young son Giant's Causeway at stud. Twenty-six yearlings by Storm Cat averaged $1,766,731, outdoing his previous sale-record average of $1,756,538 for 13 yearlings at the 2001 September venue.

Another substantial factor in the sale's upsurge was Maktoum, who spent an unprecedented amount at the September auction. Through his agent, John Ferguson, Maktoum spent $41,875,000 to acquire 27 lots.

Among sellers, Taylor Made was the record-breaker. The Taylor family's Nicholasville, Ky.-based operation consigned 360 yearlings that sold for a total of $60,997,400, a new gross mark for consignors.

"The records have fallen one after the other," said Keeneland's sale director, Geoffrey Russell. "With buyers here from all parts of the United States and every corner of the world, Keeneland September has firmly established itself as truly the global marketplace of Thoroughbred sales."