11/17/2005 1:00AM

Sale still up despite a down session

Evil Minister (outside) wins the 2004 Sapling. He's been retired to stud.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - The bullish Keeneland November mixed sale had declines on its penultimate day on Thursday, but that did not diminish the auction's cumulative gains through 11 of 12 days' selling.

The Thursday session sold 221 lots for $2,554,000, down from last year's equivalent session when 232 horses were sold for $2,749,200. Average also declined slightly, falling from last year's $11,850 to $11,557, but median remained level with last year at $8,000. The 2005 session's top price was $92,000 for the Unbridled's Song broodmare Unbridled Dream, reported as sold to Lyn Burleson by Lakland, agent. Unbridled Dream was cataloged in foal to During.

Despite Thursday's lower figures for gross and average, the auction overall was running ahead of last year's performance. Through its next-to-last day, the 2005 auction had sold 2,619 horses for gross receipts of $288,011,500, outpacing last year's $278,373,300 and, in fact, outstripping the total gross for last year's entire auction. The 11-day average price stood at $109,970 at the close of selling Thursday, a figure that was up 6 percent from last year's average at that point, and the cumulative median also was up from last season's $35,000 to $38,000.

Kitten's Joy to stand for $25,000

Kitten's Joy, last year's champion turf male, will enter stud at Ramsey Farm in 2006 with a $25,000 fee, the farm announced Thursday. The 4-year-old El Prado colt won two Grade 1 races - the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational and the Secretariat Stakes, both in 2004 - and five other graded events. He had earnings of $2,075,791.

Kitten's Joy last started in the Arlington Million in August, finishing second behind Powerscourt. He has a lifetime race record of 9-4-0 in 14 starts.

Kitten's Joy is out of the Lear Fan mare Kitten's First, whose other foals also include two-time stakes winner Justenuffheart.

Ramsey Farm in Nicholasville, Ky., also announced that first-year sire Badge of Silver will stand for $12,500 and top 10 second-crop sire Catienus will stand for $10,000 in 2006.

Newton to leave Vinery GM post

Vinery general manager Bates Newton will leave that position effective Jan. 1, 2006, the farm has announced, and his management duties will be split between Ben McElroy and Tom Ludt.

McElroy is the farm manager, and Ludt heads marketing. They will now serve as co-general managers. In addition, stallion administrator Ken Wilkins's title will change to director of stallion operations.

Newton joined Vinery in September shortly after a partnership including Tom Simon and Lynden Burns, both farm owners in Australia, purchased the Midway, Ky., stud farm from George Hofmeister. The partnership later relocated the Vinery operation from Midway to Lexington, where it now occupies the former North Ridge Farm property. Burns later left the partnership.

"I was hired initially for one breeding season when Dr. Simon purchased the farm, and I ended up being here for six years," Newton said in a statement issued by the farm. "Dr. Simon is very keen to give the next generation the opportunity to move up and take responsibility. This includes his daughter, Steffi Simon, who is becoming more and more involved."

Simon said Newton would continue as a director of Vinery and "as a trusted adviser to the Simon family."

Evil Minister to stand at Margaux

Grade 3 winner Evil Minister has been retired from the racetrack and will stand in 2006 at Margaux Farm in Midway. Evil Minister will stand as the property of a syndicate and will have a $5,000 fee.

Evil Minister was bred in Kentucky by ClassicStar and sold for $500,000 as a yearling at the 2003 Saratoga sale. He later went through the auction ring at Fasig-Tipton's Calder 2-year-old sale, bringing $200,000. Trained by Erik Juvonen for Namcook Stables, the 3-year-old Deputy Minister colt won the 2004 Sapling Stakes and also finished third that year in the Grade 2 Futurity Stakes at Belmont. He retires with 2 wins and 2 thirds in 11 starts and earnings of $126,000.

Evil Minister is out of Evil's Pic, a Grade 3 winner by Piccolino who also is the dam of stakes-placed Echeverria.