12/01/2008 1:00AM

Saoirse Abu brings $3M at Tattersalls


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Two-time Group 1 winner Saoirse Abu sold Monday afternoon at the Tattersalls December mare sale in England for just more than $3 million, proving that young, high-quality fillies will bring premium prices even in a recession.

John Ferguson, representing Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum, bought the 3-year-old Mr. Greeley filly from Glebe House Stud, agent, for 1.95 million guineas. The price in American dollars was $3,030,300 at Monday's exchange rate.

But the slumping economy and a smaller catalog contributed to sliding prices, as at earlier breeding stock auctions on both sides of the Atlantic. The opening session sold 168 horses for about $17,823,603, down 53 percent from last year's total for 199 horses. The average price of about $106,092 was off by 45 percent, and the median of approximately $26,029 was down 52 percent. The buy-back rate was 30 percent, the same as last year.

Trained by Jim Bolger, Saoirse Abu won the 2007 Phoenix and Moyglare Stud stakes, both Group 1's, and has earnings of $683,068 from 3 wins in 11 starts. She has not started since finishing fifth in the Irish 1000 Guineas in May. Ferguson said she was likely to be retired and might be bred to 2006 Epsom Derby winner Authorized.

White Cloud Bloodstock, Omar Trevino, and the N&P Partnership bred Saoirse Abu in Kentucky. She is a daughter of the unraced Future Storm mare Out Too Late.

Saoirse Abu's price led the session late Monday.

The five-day mare sale followed stark losses at the Tattersalls December foal sale, which ended Saturday.

The foal auction, also five sessions, ended dramatically down with 562 weanlings bringing about $22,609,301. Compared year-to-year in the local currency of guineas, that figure was down 49 percent from last year's total for 785 weanlings. The average price, approximately $40,230, declined 29 percent, while median, about $13,597, was 56 percent lower than it was last year.

Ferguson, representing Maktoum, paid the auction's highest price for a foal when he paid 440,000 guineas, or about $683,760, for the sale's only weanling by leading German sire Monsun. The bay filly is the first foal out of Group 1 winner Sweet Stream and was sold as part of Ted Voute's consignment.

Maktoum's rivals at Coolmore Stud also were active in the foal auction's later sessions, buying the final session's four most expensive foals. All were by Coolmore stallions. Three were by Galileo: a $590,520 son of Sitara, a $435,120 daughter of Doula, and a $326,340 filly out of Alessia. The session-topping colt was a $660,450 son of Holy Roman Emperor and Irish 1000 Guineas winner Tarascon.