09/18/2007 12:00AM

Name buyers still shopping

EmailLEXINGTON, Ky. - Prominent buyers were still on hand Tuesday at Keeneland's September yearling sale, where the eighth of 14 sessions was still under way at 4:30 p.m. Eastern and the high price was $260,000 for a Cape Town colt.

There were no million-dollar bids by that point, but such buyers as Marsha Naify, Jerry and Ann Moss, and Zayat Stables were still keeping prices aloft. Naify bought the session leader at that stage, the Cape Town colt out of the Grade 3-placed Nureyev mare Proper Dance. The colt's consignors were Jim and Pam Robinson's Brandywine Farm and Rob Whiteley's Liberation Farm.

So-called end-users weren't the only buyers sifting through the auction's second week. So were pinhookers like Kirkwood Stables and Eisaman Equine, as well as international buyers such as Margaret O'Toole and David Redvers.

At the halfway point on Monday, the auction's first seven sessions still showed mixed results that were affected by downturns at the sale's two select sessions on Sept. 10-11. Through its first seven days, the action had sold 1,697 yearlings for $324,091,200, down 7 percent from last year at the same point. The cumulative average of $190,979 also was down, by 6 percent. But the seven-day median of $120,000 was up a strong 20 percent in a sign that, despite the market's lower ceiling for horses in the $1 million-and-up range, the market was otherwise healthy for upper- and middle-market stock.

Last year's record-breaking auction featured an $11.7 million sale-topper in Meydan City, bought by Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum. By contrast, this year's likely sale-topping Unbridled's Song-Secret Status colt brought just $3.7 million from Coolmore agent Demi O'Byrne.

The seventh session's one-day figures showed demand for less expensive stock, with 288 horses bringing $20,517,500, an increase of 6 percent over last year's equivalent session. Average price also was up 4 percent to $71,241. Median was the same as last year, $55,000. The day's top price was $325,000, the amount Jerry Bailey and Lance Robinson of Gulf Coast Farm paid for the Three Chimneys agency's Cherokee Run colt out of the stakes-placed Tabasco Cat mare Informative.