Updated on 09/17/2011 11:24AM

Lewises help push sale numbers up


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The 12-day continued to outpace expectations as it began its fourth session Thursday, and, once again, Bob and Beverly Lewis were partly to credit.

On Thursday, they bought a $950,000 Forestry-Alyfair (by Alydar) colt from the Taylor Made agency, securing the likely session-topper at the fourth day of selling. That colt, from the family of multiple graded-stakes winner Advancing Star, was the latest in a string of expensive purchases by the Lewises. Like other major buyers, they stayed past the select sessions to fill their racing strings - all to Keeneland's benefit.

On Wednesday, the auction's first open session and third day overall, Keeneland sold 265 lots for $35,164,000, up 30 percent from last year's total for 258 yearlings. The session average rose 26 percent to $132,694, and median climbed 7 percent. The session topper, a $700,000 Capote-She's a Talent colt, went to Jimmy Gladwell, agent, on behalf of an undisclosed client.

The Lewises, who let it be known in August that they would spend this season reducing their stock instead of buying yearlings, showed up at Keeneland September ostensibly as sellers. They did well on that side of the auction world, too: One of the yearlings they sold was a $2.8 million Unbridled colt out of their champion Serena's Song. Eugene Melnyk was the buyer.

But the Lewises have pumped more than that back into the yearling market. On Tuesday, at the auction's second select session, the couple was the day's third-leading buyer, spending $4,590,000 for six horses. On Wednesday, they bought another pair: a $450,000 Distorted Humor-Tiy Buster colt from Nuckols Farm, agent, and a $150,000 Cape Town-Unsaddled colt from Mulholland Farm.

The Lewises didn't say what made them change their minds about buying.

The Keeneland September sale was to take Friday off, then resume Saturday and continue through Sept. 20. All sessions begin at 10 a.m.

A setback leads to a windfall

One of the Keeneland September's less-obvious home runs occurred late Tuesday, at the auction's final select session. That session featured 17 million-dollar yearlings, so Hip No. 482, a Machiavellian filly, didn't attract a lot of media attention when she went for $270,000.

But sellers David and Ginger Mullins, who sold the filly to dissolve their partnership in her, had a lot of reason to celebrate. The filly, a half-sister to Grade 1 winner The Groom is Red, is out of Mullins's mare Sheena's Gold. Back in 2001, Sheena's Gold was to be bred to Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum's prized stallion Dubai Millennium, who stood his initial year that season in England.

Maktoum had made an extraordinary offer to American mare owners, paying the way for about 35 mares to fly from the States to his Darley Stud in England. He also made foal-share agreements with many of the mares' owners, effectively waiving the stallion's $150,000 fee in exchange for a half-interest in the resulting foal.

But Dubai Millennium developed grass sickness that spring and died in April 2001, before he could cover his full book of mares. Sheena's Gold was among the mares who hadn't been bred yet.

At that point, Mullins said, Maktoum stepped in with a generous offer.

"They invited us to breed to any other stallion they had, and we decided to breed to Machiavellian," David Mullins said. "We thought it was a good match. It was similar to the mating we would have done with Dubai Millennium, because there was a little inbreeding to Mr. Prospector with each horse."

When the breeding contract came through, Mullins was surprised to find that Maktoum was offering a free season to Machiavellian and also would allow the Mullinses to keep 100 percent of the resulting foal.

"They said they felt we'd been through so much already, that the breeding was complimentary," Mullins said.

That meant that the Machiavellian filly's sale price was pure profit - an unusual home run, indeed.

Sidney, longtime ring handler, dies

On Monday night, the opening night of Keeneland's September yearling sale, a Keeneland sales institution died. Dudley Sidney, 73, was well known among auction-goers as the man who showed the horses in Keeneland's fabled auction ring since 1986. Sidney recently had suffered a stroke. He died in Lexington.

"It was an honor to work with him," said Lisa Douglas, who joined the team of ring handlers last year. "We learned a lot from him."