04/16/2002 11:00PM

Prices, buybacks both rise


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Topped by an $850,000 Unbridled's Song colt, Tuesday's Keeneland select 2-year-old sale had mixed results, with financial increases clouded by a sharp gain in the buyback rate.

Stan Fulton, owner of Sunland Park in New Mexico, bought the sale-topper from Robert Scanlon, agent. Owner John Oxley, who raced 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos and currently has Derby hopeful Booklet, bought the day's top-priced filly, a $750,000 daughter of Pulpit.

Average price was a sale record $174,015, up 6 percent up from last year's average of $163,714. Median also set a record, at $127,500, a 2 percent increase over last year's figure of $125,000. But the official buyback rate also jumped to a record high of 43 percent, up sharply from last year's 38 percent.

After the highly selective market prompted a large number of withdrawals from the sale, the one-day auction sold 102 lots for total revenue of $17,749,500, up 19 percent from last year, when 91 lots brought $14,989,000.

The $850,000 colt, who had worked in 10 seconds at one of the sale's two under-tack previews, is a son of the Miswaki mare Whatamiss. Bred in Kentucky by Al Carpenito, the colt was bought back on a $500,000 bid at the 2001 Keeneland July yearling sale, then sold for $300,000 at the Keeneland September auction that year. Brian Morgan, agent, signed the ticket then.

The colt's $850,000 tag at the April 2-year-old sale is the fourth-highest price ever at this auction, though well off the record $2 million that La Salle Street brought in 1999.

Fulton said the colt probably would race in California.

Kip Elser's Kirkwood Stables consigned the $750,000 Pulpit filly on behalf of Claiborne Farm. The dark bay or brown filly, who is out of the stakes-winning Housebuster mare Aces, breezed a quarter-mile in 21 seconds and three-eighths in 33.40 in the pair of under-tack shows. Claiborne's Cherry Valley division bred the filly in partnership with Rick Pitino and Billy Minardi.