11/19/2007 12:00AM

Keeneland sets mark for gross

EmailLEXINGTON, Ky. - Keeneland's November mixed sale, which this year established a world-record broodmare price of $10.5 million for Playful Act, ended its 15-day run Monday with sale records for gross and number sold.

When the final hammer fell, the 15-day total was a sale record $340,877,200 for 3,381 horses sold, beating the previous sale record of $317,666,000 that was set in 1999 for the sale of 3,461 horses. The average of $100,821 was the sale's second-highest, behind the record $102,842 set in 2005. The cumulative median of $35,000 equaled the record figure seen in both 2005 and 2006. And the number of horses selling for $1 million or more this year, 39, equaled the record number sold at the 2000 auction.

The buyback rate improved slightly this year at 22 percent, down from 23 percent in 2006, when the auction was one day shorter with 14 sessions.

The 2007 sale started on Nov. 5 with one record in hand when it cataloged 5,415 horses, the largest number ever for the auction.

The highlight of the auction was Playful Act's sale, which sparked a tense battle between Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum's representative, John Ferguson, and the Coolmore Stud team led by John Magnier. Ferguson won the duel, adding the $10.5 million Sadler's Wells mare to Maktoum's account.

The price topped the previous world record of $9.4 million for Magical Romance, who sold in foal to Pivotal at the 2006 Tattersalls December sale.

Playful Act, once England's champion juvenile filly, was not in foal at the time of her sale. She had aborted her Kingmambo foal earlier in the year. But the 5-year-old was a prize Maktoum was determined to have, Ferguson said, partly because she came from the Swettenham Stud breeding dynasty founded by Maktoum's late friend - and Coolmore's late associate - Robert Sangster.

The Hill 'n' Dale Sales agency consigned Playful Act on behalf of Swettenham Stud, which is now run by Sangster's family.

Beyond the world-record broodmare, the 2007 Keeneland November auction was especially notable for a high level of international participation. Encouraged by the dollar's weakness abroad, foreign-based bidders from such countries as England, France, Ireland, Russia, Turkey, the Ukraine, Australia, and Argentina were active throughout the auction and gave a boost to later auction sessions, in particular. But American-based buyers were even more aggressive and accounted for two-thirds of the auction's gross, according to Keeneland statistics released Monday.

"This sale was strong from beginning to end, evidenced by the fact that we conducted 15 days of selling and averaged over $100,000 and equaled the record median," said Keeneland's director of sales, Geoffrey Russell. "These figures indicate that we are selling more horses to a wide range of people, and that is very rewarding."

The November auction followed a trend similar to that of the recent Keeneland September yearling sale, in which the late sessions - traditionally ones with lower-priced horses - posted sharp gains from the previous year.

"At the end of our two major sales, we did not experience the market correction many in the industry anticipated," Russell said, referring to the September and November auctions. "But we attribute that chiefly to the weakness of the U.S. dollar, which spurred foreign spending."

Ferguson, bidding on Maktoum's behalf, was the auction's leading buyer with six purchases totaling $19,450,000, followed by Jess Jackson's Stonestreet Thoroughbreds with nine purchases for $11,035,000. The sale's leading consignor was the Taylor Made Sales agency, which sold 306 horses for $41,089,400. Taylor Made was followed by Hill 'n' Dale Sales, whose 154 horses brought a combined $36,756,800.

Verglas colt tops Day 2 at Goffs

The Goffs November foal sale in County Kildare, Ireland, ended its second day Monday with a 60,000-euro session-topping Verglas colt. Cloverdale Bloodstock purchased the colt, whose price in U.S. dollars was about $87,990. Collegelands Stud consigned the colt, who is out of the Hamas mare Ibtihal.

At Sunday's opener, a 50,000-euro colt by Trade Fair out of the Blues Traveller mare Aswhatilldois topped proceedings on a final bid from Bobby Ryan. Cooneen Stud sold the colt. The foal auction continues through Thursday.