11/19/2006 1:00AM

November sale up 8 percent


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Keeneland November sale ended Sunday, capping a remarkable fall auction season with a dramatic gain in gross.

The 14-day auction ended Sunday afternoon after selling 3,147 lots for $313,843,800, up eight percent from last year's 12-day total of $289,602,900 for 2,816 lots. The average dipped slightly, falling from $102,842 last year to $99,728, but median remained level with last year's figure at $35,000.

Just two months after the Keeneland September yearling auction set records for gross, top price, average, and median, the November breeding stock sale continued the market momentum. The November sale's top price was $6.1 million for an unbeaten 3-year-old Unbridled's Song colt named Half Ours. Aaron Jones bought the sale-topping colt to dissolve his partnership with Barry Schwartz. The price was the highest ever paid at Keeneland for a horse in training.

The sale's real story was the strong demand for young broodmares and broodmare prospects and for weanlings. The top price for a mare was the $6 million that John Sikura's Hill 'n' Dale Farms paid Claiborne Farm, agent, for Madcap Escapade on the auction's opening day, Nov. 6. Even far later in the sale, the prices for young females were well above what many buyers and sellers alike had expected, with mares and prospects still bringing six-figure prices as late as Thursday of the sale's second week.

The market for weanlings was similarly robust. At the second session on Nov. 7, a Montjeu weanling colt out of Elbaaha (Arazi) set a North American record auction price for a weanling when Japanese agent Nobutaka Tada paid $2.7 million for him. Indian Creek Farm, as agent, sold the colt.

At Sunday's final session, Keeneland sold 125 lots for $1,053,600, yielding an $8,429 average and a $5,200 median. Last year's November auction consisted of 12 sessions as compared to 14 sessions this year, so there were no comparable figures from 2005.