09/22/2001 12:00AM

Prices fall sharply in final days at Keeneland


LEXINGTON, Ky. - As the Keeneland September yearling auction wound toward its conclusion Saturday, prices dropped sharply and a $37,000 Marlin colt was the most expensive offering at the penultimate session.

Richard Matlow, agent, signed for the colt, a son of the stakes winner You Tell Me, by Clev Er Tell, and a half-brother to Louisiana stakes winners Belek's Star and Clev Er Irish.

Brereton Jones's Airdrie Stud, agent, sold the colt.

Two $35,000 fillies were the day's top-selling females. The first was a daughter of Wild Zone and Keep Dealing, by Explosive Bid, that Morris Bailey and Allen Iwinski purchased from Millennium Farms Kentucky, agent. The second was a Defrere-Love Them All, by Drone, filly, a half-sister to graded stakes winner Sierra Diablo, that Clarkland Farm sold to Mark Casse, agent.

The Saturday session, the 12th of 13 days, saw revenue figures decline sharply, as 162 lots brought a total of $1,207,200 for an average price of $7,452 and a $5,000 median. The average and median dropped 30 percent and 33 percent, respectively, from last year's 12th session.

Still, cumulative figures have remained steady as compared with last year, keeping the 2001 auction on track to challenge last year's record average of $88,085. But the smaller 2001 catalog will certainly prevent last year's revenue record - $291,827,100 for 3,313 lots - from being broken.

Through Saturday, the 2001 auction had sold 2,743 lots for $253,147,400, producing an average price of $92,289 and median of $30,000. The 12-day average rose less than 1 percent from last year's $91,441 and the median held level with last year's figure of $30,000.

Prices at later sessions generally plummet as horses with less fashionable pedigrees sell to buyers with smaller budgets. But even in this smaller market, there is a substantial price difference between session-toppers - those perceived to be the best of the bunch - and other offerings. As at the upper end of the Thoroughbred yearling market, buyers at later sessions are willing to pay more for yearlings they believe are the best of their group, and on Saturday the majority of horses brought prices between $1,000 and $15,000, well below the day's highest bids.