11/10/2012 9:28PM

Keeneland sale: Fifth session average drops; $435K mare Atrea tops of the day

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After posting solid gains on Friday, the Keeneland November breeding stock sale saw its average dip slightly during Saturday's fifth session, despite four horses selling for $250,000 or more.

Led by session-topping Atrea, purchased for $435,000 by Glen Hill Farm, Saturday's session included 270 horses that sold for total receipts of $11,495,600. At last year's fifth session, 274 horses sold for a total of $13,017,000. However, the 2011 session included 26 horses from the record-setting dispersal of the late Edward P. Evans's Spring Hill Farm that sold for a total of $1,820,500.

:: Complete hip-by-hip results

Saturday's average price of $42,576 was a 10.4 percent decrease from the $47,507 average from the fifth session of 2011. The median price of $35,000 at this year’s session was a 9.4 percent gain from the 2011 median of $32,000.

Walt Robertson, Keeneland's vice president of sales, said he was satisfied with the direction of the auction.

"When we started this thing, we knew we were going to miss the boost we had last year with the two dispersals [Palides Investment was the other major dispersal]," he said.

Atrea, a 5-year-old  mare from the family of outstanding broodmare Get Lucky, prompted a spirited round of bidding to become the session topper, with Craig Bernick of Glen Hill eventually prevailing. A Storm Cat mare, Atrea was consigned by Lane's End, agent, in foal to Flatter. Bernick said he paid "about $100,000 more" than he expected for the mare.

"I couldn't help myself," Bernick said.

Robertson also was pleasantly surprised by how high bidders were willing to go for the session topper.

"I thought she was nice," Robertson said. "Did I know she'd bring that much? No. But she's a good mare."

Atrea is out of the Capote mare New Dice, dam of Molto Grande, a stakes winner in Japan. Out of the Grade 3-winning Mr. Prospector mare Get Lucky - a full sister to champion Rhythm - New Dice is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Girolamo; Grade 2 winner Daydreaming; Grade 3 winner Accelerator; Supercharger, dam of Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver; and She's a Winner, dam of Grade 1 winner Bluegrass Cat.

"She's probably got the best pedigree in book three, for sure," Bernick said of Atrea. "It's a really good family. Get Lucky is probably one of the most important American pedigrees. You've got Super Saver, Girolamo, Bluegrass Cat - all those horses are out of A.P. Indy mares. [Atrea is] carrying a filly - this horse [she is carrying] has the right cross [Flatter is a son of A.P. Indy]. Those families are really hard to get into. So we just kind of targeted [her] and were sitting around for three days waiting for it to come. We're really excited about it."

Bernick said that Atrea would likely be bred to a son of A.P. Indy in 2013.

Earlier in the session, Sekmet, a full sister to Grade 1 winner In Lingerie, sold for $310,000 to Besilu Stables. The 7-year-old Empire Maker mare, consigned by Winter Quarter Farm, agent, is in foal to City Zip. In Lingerie won the Grade 1 Spinster Stakes for her third graded stakes victory of 2012. Sekmet and In Lingerie are out of the Grade 2-winning Storm Cat mare Cat Chat, whose dam is champion Phone Chatter. Cat Chat is a half-sister to Mini Chat, the dam of Grade 1 winner Dixie Chatter.

The session's highest-priced weanling was a Candy Ride colt purchased for $220,000 by Maverick Racing. Consigned by Lane's End, agent, the colt is out of the stakes-placed Smart Strike mare Magical Theater.

"He's a really nice individual," said Randy Gilbert of Shawnee Farm, which raised the colt. "He's really matured in the last month or so. He definitely exceeded our expectations, but good horses are going to sell really well."

Five weanlings brought six-figure prices during Saturday's session.

"The market is pretty selective still," Gilbert said. "I think the next couple of days, you're going to see some more pinhookers coming in, trying to buy a nice horse that they can sell next fall."

Through five sessions, Keeneland reported 937 horses sold for $113,846,600, a 36.9 percent decline from last year, when 1,073 horses sold for $180,311,200. The average of $121,501 is down 27.7 percent and the median of $60,000 has dropped 22.1 percent. If you remove last year’stwo major dispersals, total receipts have risen 4.5 percent through five sessions compared to the first five sessions last year.

The sale resumes Sunday and will run through Nov. 16, with sessions starting daily at 10 a.m.