09/15/2001 11:00PM

Roar colt makes noise at Keeneland

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LEXINGTON, Ky. ? The Keeneland September yearling sale's select market, which produced a sale-topping $6.4 million Storm Cat colt on Wednesday, had receded into memory by Saturday. But even though the top prices have fallen off since the select sessions ended Wednesday, there was still some money on the table in the open market.

A $425,000 Roar colt was the most expensive lot at the yearling sale's fifth session, thanks to the continued presence of a regular buyer from the select sessions, Prince Ahmed bin Salman's The Thoroughbred Corp.

The Roar colt, a son of the Capote mare Buttermilk sold by Taylor Made, agent, was one of a long list of six-figure horses, proving the old Thoroughbred market maxim that good horses bring good money. But, as expected, the open sessions were slowing overall.

Through five sessions, 1,104 horses have been sold for $212,059,700 - an average of $192,083 - compared to 1,238 horses had been sold for $238,142,500, ($192,361 average) at the same point last year.

On Friday, the September yearling sale's fourth day and second open session, revenue dropped sharply. As compared to its equivalent session last year, average price on Friday plummeted 11 percent to $93,038, while gross dropped 14 percent to $23,445,500 for 252 yearlings. Last year's fourth session sold 261 lots.

But the news was not all negative: median rose 8 percent, from $60,000 at last year's fourth session to $65,000 this year.

A $575,000 Maria's Mon colt was the Friday session's top seller. Paul Robsham purchased the session-topper, who is out of the Black Tie Affair (Ire) mare Madeira M'dear, from Blackburn Farm (Michael T. Barnett), agent.

Consignors had feared that the auction's later days would begin to show the effects of current economic uncertainty, and the Friday session was the first to confirm that there was some weakness in the market.

Friday was the second open session of the two-week sale, representing the portion of the market occupied largely by mid-level domestic buyers, who are more likely to be affected by the United States' financial doubts that rose with the smoke after Tuesday's massive terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. Sellers also had expected that buyers for the rest of the sale would be hampered by air travel slowdowns that followed the tragedy, and, indeed, the sales grounds were noticeably less crowded than they had been earlier in the week.

But even before the tragic events, gross revenue had been set to drop somewhat due to Keeneland's reduction in the catalog size, from a record 4,650 last year to 4,483. Last year's September yearling auction also posted new records for number sold with 3,313, gross revenues of $291,827,100, and average price of $88,085.

Given the general economic slowdown in the months before the terrorist attack, this year's September sale was unlikely to match last year's record returns.

The sale is scheduled to continue through Sept. 24, with continuous sessions beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern.