11/05/2003 1:00AM

Million-dollar hips gone, but buyers still eager to spend


LEXINGTON, Ky. - They were done selling $7 million mares on Wednesday when Keeneland's November breeding stock sale rolled into its third day, but the prices remained strong overall. By 5:30 p.m. Eastern, the session leader was the $425,000 mare Red n'Gold.

The auction produced a world-record broodmare price of $7.1 million for Cash Run at its opening session on Monday, and at its second and final select session Tuesday the sale followed up with a $6.1 million top price for Windsharp. Coolmore Stud bought Cash Run, who was in foal to Storm Cat, to dissolve its partnership with Padua Stables in the mare, and Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum purchased Windsharp in foal to Gone West.

Taylor Made Sales, agent, sold Cash Run. Mill Ridge, agent, sold Windsharp on behalf of the estate of Prince Ahmed Salman.

Keeneland officials had hoped that such strong performances would have a trickle-down effect as the auction entered its third day, when upper middle-class mares and their weanlings traditionally come up for sale.

At least in the early going, it appeared that the market was still flush with interested buyers.

WinStar Farm, which also was active in the first two sessions, purchased Wednesday's $425,000 sale-leader. The mare, Red n'Gold, is a 5-year-old stakes winner by Tabasco Cat who sold as a racing or broodmare prospect. She is Grade 3-placed and has earnings of more than $294,000. Taylor Made Sales Agency sold Red n'Gold.

Weanlings, too, were bringing some healthy prices. The top weanling by late afternoon was a $335,000 High Yield colt out of the Dehere mare Here Comes Chelsie. The pinhooking partnership of Dromoland and Hartwell Farms purchased the colt, who is from the family of stakes winners Coax Chelsie and Chelsie's House. Brookdale Farm, as agent for Elmer Miller, sold the colt.

Prices like those were daunting to mid-level buyers who couldn't get a bid in, prompting one to grumble, "Even the horses that don't look good are selling well."

The weaning market was buoyed by pinhookers, buyers looking to resell their November weanling purchases as yearlings.

"It's extremely strong," said consignor Jim FitzGerald. "I think people are forgetting how hard it is to sell yearlings. They're spending a lot of money for weanlings. It's madness, but it's a good madness if you're selling foals."

The strong select market, in particular, bodes well for the next major breeding stock sale on the international auction calendar, at the British company Tattersalls in Newmarket, England, from Nov. 24-Dec. 4. Like this sale, the December auction also includes a major dispersal. The sale will mark the final phase of Newgate Stud's dispersal. Newgate was owned by Prince Fahd Salman, brother of Ahmed Salman.

"We haven't seen this quality of mares on the market in a long while," FitzGerald said. "It's going to be just the same in Newmarket in December. Half of Kentucky will be there, too."