07/08/2007 11:00PM

Prices slip at Japanese sale opener

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A $2,024,291 yearling half-brother to Grade 1 winner Admire Moon topped Monday's opening session of the Japan Racing Horse Association's annual yearling and foal sale. The auction, which began with a single session devoted to yearlings, is taking place at Northern Horse Park on the Japanese island of Hokkaido.

The session-topping French Deputy colt is out of the Sunday Silence mare My Katies. Riichi Kondo purchased the colt from Katsmui Yoshida's Northern Farm.

The opening session sold 108 yearlings for $26,594,332, down 11opercent from last year's auction, when 109 yearlings sold. The 2007 average price fell 10 percent to $246,244, and the median slid 24opercent to $184,211. But the day's buy-back rate improved this year, declining from 34 percent last year to 28 percent this season.

Northern Farm sold the session's three other seven-figure yearlings as well. They were Hip No. 52, a $1,983,805 Dance in the Dark colt out of Japan's 1997 Horse of the Year and champion producer Air Groove, which Kaneko Makoto Holdings Co. purchased; Hip No. 43, a $1,376,518 Jungle Pocket-Every Whisper colt, a half-brother to two stakes performers that JHS Ltd. bought; and Hip No. 31, a $1,133,603 Kurofune-Fusaichi Airedale colt, a full brother to Japan's 2005 champion juvenile, bought by Rosehill Thoroughbred Management.

The three-day auction was to continue through Wednesday with two foal sessions.