05/15/2006 11:00PM

Red Bullet 2-year-old gets $2.5M

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - A $2.5 million Red Bullet colt who set a record workout time last Thursday at the Barretts May juvenile sale's preview set another record Tuesday with the auction's highest-ever sale price.

Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum's Darley organization purchased the colt, which sold as Hip No. 80, from sellers Mike Akers and Ciaran Dunne. Dunne's Wavertree agency consigned the son of Sookloozy, by Avenue of Flags, on behalf of the partnership.

At Thursday's first under-tack show in Pomona, Calif., the colt breezed an eighth-mile in 9.60 seconds, the fastest time ever run for that distance at a May sale preview.

"The horse just did everything he had to do, and he attracted these buyers," said Barretts president and general manager Jerry McMahon. "After he worked, it wasn't that surprising."

The price shattered the previous May sale record of $375,000, which Jess Jackson paid for the French Deputy filly Cambria Gold at the 2003 auction.

The auction was still under way at 5:45 p.m. Eastern time, but no other bids had approached the seven-figure mark, and the Red Bullet colt was expected to remain the sale-topper.

The juvenile market this year has been especially bullish at the top, thanks to aggressive bidding by rivals Maktoum and Coolmore principal John Magnier. At the Fasig-Tipton Calder sale on Feb. 28, the Darley and Coolmore teams clashed over a Forestry-Magical Masquerade colt that ultimately brought a world-record horse auction price of $16 million on Coolmore's final bid. That colt, now named The Green Monkey, is currently in training.

The May sale, considered less prestigious than the Barretts March select 2-year-old sale, has nonetheless attracted positive attention as a solid marketplace. Even so, few would have expected a $2.5 million bid there, at least until the Red Bullet colt had his sizzling work.

McMahon pointed out that the Darley group did not attend the breeze show but were determined to bid after it. Barretts moved its two-day preview show this year from the Friday and Saturday preceding the sale to the Thursday and Friday before the auction, giving the company more time to showcase strong works with DVD's and workout videos on the Internet.

"It helps to have enough time to publicize what happened in those works," McMahon said.