09/15/2004 11:00PM

Question remains whether to disclose buyers

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - In light of the mystery over a sale-record $8 million purchase Tuesday at the Keeneland September yearling sale, should agents who buy and sell be required to disclose their clients at auction?

Japanese trainer Hideyuki Mori signed as agent for Tuesday's $8 million Storm Cat-Welcome Surprise colt, the fourth-highest-priced yearling ever sold at a North American auction. But he declined to name his client, and so has Keeneland. Satish Sanan's Alliance for Industry Reform has called for requiring client disclosures under a bloodstock industry code of ethics.

Sanan was unavailable for comment Thursday. But Keeneland's director of sales, Geoffrey Russell, respectfully disagrees with requiring agents to disclose their clients at public auction.

Russell is a member of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association-led task force considering AIR's proposals. Asked his personal opinion on whether agents should be required to disclose their clients, Russell said: "My position has always been the same, and when I am asked in the task force meeting what my position is, it will be the same. That is, any owner, be they a seller or a buyer, has the right to sell or buy under any name they so desire."

Keeneland reports its sales results, using the purchasers' names provided on its sales receipts. Often, those are agents' names rather than the actual buyers' names.

"We've been told several times that if we didn't print the list of purchasers and prices, we might even have better sales," Russell said, "because some wealthy people do not like to be seen spending money. If you'll notice, art auctions don't print purchasers' names. It's a choice, whether the person is selling or buying."

Does Russell know who bought the $8 million Storm Cat colt from Will Farish's Lane's End Farm?

"No," he said, acknowledging that his ignorance of the buyer's name was by design. "If you don't know, you can't tell. The people who need to know, know."

Those people, Russell explained, include Keeneland's credit department, which extends credit approval for buyers.

"Any time someone buys a horse here, we like to make sure they have established credit, and, if it's an agent, we make sure he has an agent's authorization form [filled out by the buyer identifying the agent as his representative]," Russell said. "All those requirements have been fulfilled."

Elusive Quality colt goes for $850,000

Meanwhile, the Keeneland September yearling auction's fourth session on Thursday was still throwing off some big prices. As of 5:30 p.m., Buzz Chace, representing Aaron and Marie Jones, had bought the session-leading $850,000 colt, a son of hot young sire Elusive Quality and the Glitterman mare First Glimmer. Taylor Made Sales Agency sold the colt.

Other high prices at the time included a $750,000 Deputy Minister-Princess Pietrina colt that the Four Star agency sold to John Oxley; and a $600,000 Unbridled's Song-Listen Now filly that B. Wayne Hughes bought from Nardelli Sales, agent.

On Wednesday, a pair of $750,000 yearlings topped the 14-day auction's third session. They were a Giant's Causeway-President's Girl colt that Hughes purchased from Taylor Made, agent, and a Monarchos-Catcher colt John Fulton Bloodstock acquired from John Williams, agent.

Overall, the Wednesday session sold 276 lots for $43,920,000, a sharp 25 percent rise from last year's third day, when 265 lots brought $35,164,000. Average climbed 20 percent to $159,130, and median shot up 37 percent to $130,000.

Live foals total rising over last year

The Jockey Club said Thursday that breeders have so far reported 36,274 foals of 2004 via live foal reports submitted to the Thorough-bred registry. Earlier this year, The Jockey Club estimated the registered North American foal crop would reach about 37,200.

"Despite fewer mares bred in 2003, we're close to 700 live foals ahead of this time last year," said The Jockey Club's vice president of registration services, Matt Iuliano.

The Jockey Club's breeding statistics also showed that in 2003, the year that the 2004 crop was conceived, 4,203 stallions bred 63,154 mares. Those figures reveal a 1.8 percent drop in the active stallion population and a 1.1 percent slip in number of mares bred.

The top 10 stallions by number of live foals to date are Tale of the Cat, with 153 from 192 mares bred; Grand Slam, with 145 from 197 mares bred, and Johannesburg, also with 145 from 193 mares bred; Stormy Atlantic, with 138 from 189 mares; Buddha, 137 from 164 mares; Distorted Humor, 131 from 156 mares; Mr. Greeley, 122 from 164 mares; Orientate, 120 from 141 mares; Giant's Causeway, 116 from 144 mares; and El Corredor, 112 from 160 mares.

Keeneland September Sale
362 lots offered, 276 purchased
Wednesday's top-priced lots

HIP NO.SEX, NAME OR PEDIGREECONSIGNORBUYERPRICE
865C Monarchos - CatcherJohn Williams, AgentJohn Fulton Bloodstock LLC$750,000
693CGiant's Causeway - President's GirlTaylor Made Sales Agency, AgentB. Wayne Hughes 750,000
710CGrand Slam - Ring StarWoods Edge Farm , AgentJohn McCormack Bloodstock700,000
499CElusive Quality - Dazzling BrightWoods Edge Farm, AgentJohn Ferguson650,000
730CGrand Slam - Sasin (Ire)Denali Stud, Agent ClassicStar LLC 550,000
504CGulch - Demi SouerLane's End, AgentPeter Karches500,000
709FDiesis (Gb) - Ringshaan (Fr) GracefieldJohn McCormack Bloodstock450,000
643CPulpit - MilaClaiborne Farm, AgentBen Glass, Agt450,000
611CEl Corredor - Kristi's SunshineHill 'n' Dale Sales Agency, AgentJohn Ferguson450,000
585CGulch - Hurricane AlertTaylor Made Sales Agency, Agent John F. Moynihan, Agent425,000
871CCherokee Run - Clary SageMiddlebrook Farm, AgentErdenheim Farm425,000
858CGone West - CandleinthedarkGreenfield Farm, Agent John P. Fort425,000

Average price: $159,130
Median price: $130,000
Gross Receipts: $43,920,000