Updated on 09/17/2011 6:55PM

Santa Catarina brings $4.8 million

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The sale of Santa Catarina, in foal to A.P. Indy, topped Tuesday's session at the Keeneland November sale, where 18 lots brought seven-figure sums.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Young mares and broodmare prospects, hot items Monday at the Keeneland November sale's opening day, continued to draw multimillion-dollar bids from a wide array of buyers on Tuesday.

Bob and Beverly Lewis's Grade 2 winner Santa Catarina, offered in foal to A.P. Indy, was the session-topper at $4.8 million. Agent Reiley McDonald signed the ticket for the mare, who sold as part of Denali Stud's consignment. McDonald declined to name his clients, saying only that they were the same anonymous partnership he represented on Monday when he bought Take Charge Lady for $4.2 million.

Overall, the Tuesday session sold 211 horses for $81,487,000, yielding a $386,194 average and $210,000 median. Buybacks were 18 percent. For the first two days, the auction grossed $162,463,500 for 424 sold, producing a $383,169 average and a $200,000 median. Cumulative buybacks were 19 percent. The first two days featured 33 seven-figure lots, up from 23 last year.

Santa Catarina was one of 18 lots sold Tuesday for $1 million or more. Other top sellers were $2.2 million Storm Beauty, whom the Lewises (Denali, agent) sold to Betty Moran's Brushwood Stables; $2.1 million Be Gentle, whom Diamond A Farms bought from Eaton Sales, agent; $2 million Blithe, whom Reynolds Bell, agent, bought from the Stone Farm-Stonerside partnership; $2 million Miss Lodi, whom Skara Glen Stables bought from Denali; and $2 million Dimitrova, whom Pennsylvania-based Abbott Bloodstock bought from the Indian Creek consignment. All but Dimitrova, who was not pregnant, were in foal to A.P. Indy, a popular covering sire at this auction.

Others spending between $1 million and $2 million for individual lots included Skara Glen Stables, Summer Wind Farm, Malibu Farm, Forging Oaks Farm, Narvick International, and Manganaro LLC - a sign that the upper market was not only rich but broad.

But there also were some eye-popping buybacks Tuesday. Multiple Grade 1 winner You, in foal to A.P. Indy, failed to reach her reserve at $2 million. Prom Knight, dam of Breeders' Cup Classic winner Volponi and carrying a Mineshaft foal, also did not sell at $725,000. In fact, the Tuesday session got off to an awkward start when nine of the first 16 horses through the ring failed to reach their sellers' reserves.

Those sellers could be forgiven for overreaching, considering how heady Monday's opening session was. Breeding stock auctions are notoriously difficult to compare from year to year, due to the highly variable dispersal stock they often include. But the Monday session was, by any standard, a strong one. Two hundred thirteen lots sold for a total of $80,976,500, producing a $380,171 average and $185,000 median. Six mares brought $2 million or more, including the session-topper, $4.4 million Unbridled Elaine. John Ferguson, agent, bought Unbridled Elaine on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum. Taylor Made, agent, sold the 2001 Breeders' Cup Distaff winner in foal to Forestry.

Monday's average price was less than last year's $400,351, but the median improved by 3 percent. Most important, from a sellers' point of view, the opening session's buyback rate improved dramatically, dropping from last year's 30 percent to just 19 percent in 2004.

But Tuesday's headlines belonged to Santa Catarina and her anonymous buyers. Speculation fell on longtime Eaton client Betty Moran and John Magnier's wealthy Coolmore operation, whose name was strangely absent from the sale results, but both denied being part of the partnership when media members asked. Whomever McDonald was representing, the partnership had enough money to give their strongest opposition pause.

The first salvo for Santa Catarina, a $1 million opening bid, might have been enough to put off some bidders. But Keeneland's seasoned regulars quickly pushed the price to $4 million. By that point, Richard Santulli's regular agent, Reynolds Bell, bowed out. That left two players, McDonald and Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum's agent, John Ferguson, both bidding from behind the auction ring. On McDonald's $4.8 million offer, Ferguson turned off his cell phone and walked away from the ring.

"That's unusual, isn't it?" McDonald said when someone told him that Ferguson had pulled up.

Santa Catarina, a Grade 2 winner and Grade 1-placed daughter of Unbridled and the Storm Cat mare Purfectly, was sold in foal to A.P. Indy.

"There aren't many more of those," McDonald said, referring to daughters of the late Unbridled. "You have to pay what you have to pay for that kind of mare."

McDonald appeared blase, but the day's underbidders could only shake their heads as they lost duel after duel. Even David Plummer of the aggressive ClassicStar partnership, which spent more than $4.8 million for six horses on opening day, occasionally got shut out of Tuesday's market. But ClassicStar came back to buy $1.9 million Gaviola, in foal to Gone West, from Twilite Farms (Eaton Sales, agent).

What's tough for buyers is often good for sellers. One beneficiary was the partnership of Arthur Hancock II's Stone Farm and Robert McNair's Stonerside Stable. Immensely successful commercial breeders, the team dispersed their fashionable co-owned mares into a market hungry for quality. Fusaichi Pegasus's half-sister Blithe, sold for $2 million, was part of the consignment. Words of War, the dam of E Dubai, sold in foal to Storm Cat and brought $1.95 million from Malibu Farm. Chasm, a half-sister to Kentucky Oaks winner Keeper Hill, sold in foal to Maria's Mon and fetched $570,000 from agent R.J. Bennett.

But Hancock couldn't part with two mares. He paid $500,000 each for Fineza, Keeper Hill's dam, and Carafe, a Devil's Bag-Bottle Top mare. Both are in foal to Fusaichi Pegasus, perhaps the best horse ever bred by Stone Farm and Stonerside Stable.

"It makes you nostalgic," Hancock said of the dispersal. "But these mares have taken care of my kids. It's kind of like selling the family dog. But we're very happy with where they're going and the prices. The world is here to buy, and they're the judges."