09/24/2004 11:00PM

Record sale for Keeneland

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Three days before its Sept. 27 end date, the 2004 Keeneland September yearling sale became the top-grossing Thoroughbred auction in history when Friday's 11th session pushed total income to $318,245,700 for 2,819 yearlings.

The previous record for gross income was held by the 1999 Keeneland November breeding stock sale, which sold 3,461 horses for $317,666,000.

The Keeneland September juggernaut has dramatically outpaced industry expectations, also setting a sale record of $8 million for a Storm Cat-Welcome Surprise colt that Lane's End, agent, sold to trainer Hideyuki Mori, who was representing an anonymous client.

"Phenomenal" was the word Keeneland's director of sales, Geoffrey Russell, used to describe the auction's record-breaking performance Friday. "The most optimistic projections could not have predicted that this sale would set an all-time, industry record for gross. As we said before, the sale continues to be strong at all levels."

That last statement appeared to be holding true even in the two-week auction's later sessions, in which prices traditionally drop well off the levels seen at the opening two select sessions. On Friday, Blandford Stud, agent's session-topping Horse Chestnut colt out of Dr. Redoubtable, by Storm Cat, brought $170,000 from Bob Baffert, agent. And at Saturday's 12th of 14 sessions, the early leader was another $170,000 colt, this one by Trippi out of Gal's Forum, by Open Forum, and one of three six-figure lots to sell by 4:30 p.m. William Currin signed the ticket for Oak Tree Farm, and the consignor was Susan M. Forrester, agent.

Through Friday, the auction had sold 2,819 lots for the record $318,245,700, an increase of 17 percent from last year at the same stage, when 2,796 sold for $272,776,200. The 2004 cumulative average was $112,893 (+16 percent), and median was $50,000 (+35 percent).