Updated on 09/16/2011 6:38AM

School is out for You's dam

Suzie-Picou Oldham
Consigned by Louisiana-Monroe University, Our Dani sold for $625,000.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Our Dani, whose first foal, You, surprised nearly everyone by becoming a Grade 1 winner, brought a big profit to the state of Louisiana on Tuesday - selling for $625,000, the Keeneland January sale's second-day session-topper.

French agent Robert Nataf signed the ticket on behalf of an unidentified European syndicate. Lane's End, agent, sold the mare for an unusual consignor: the University of Louisiana at Monroe, which obtained the mare as a donation from owner Dolphus Morrison, before You became the force she is today.

The price wasn't close to the $3.6 million Live Oak Stud paid at the sale on Monday for 1995 Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Desert Stormer. That was the January sale's second-highest price ever, behind only the $5 million that Mackie brought in 2000.

But Our Dani's $625,000 price tag was undoubtedly welcome at the university. A 9-year-old daughter of Homebuilder out of the stakes-placed Lovely Briar (Briartic), Our Dani was in foal to In a Walk, an obscure son of Chief's Crown who stands for $750 at the university's agricultural studies department.

"Maybe we'll breed her to another stallion next time," Nataf joked, then added seriously, "She deserves a little bit more stallion than that."

Nataf said the price was fair for a young, attractive mare who produced a Grade 1 Frizette Stakes winner in You in her first mating.

He said that the syndicate probably would race the In a Walk foal.

The university and its equine studies program did not send a representative to Keeneland for what was the school's best-ever sale at public auction. But the sale price does not represent the mare's peak value. In August, after You won the Grade 2 Adirondack, a private buyer offered the university $750,000 for the mare. But as a state university the school is subject to a passel of Louisiana regulations, one of which says that Our Dani could only be sold publicly.

Before Our Dani dropped into the university's lap like a lottery ticket, the best price a university-sold horse had brought was "almost $5,000," according to Tami Lewis, who runs the school's Layton Farm in Monroe, La. The school breeds and sells horses of various breeds to auctions around the state, mostly riding horses.

Morrison sold You privately to Edmund Gann for $150,000 after her second start, then donated Our Dani to the school for a $10,000 tax write-off. It seemed like a good deal at the time.

What happened, of course, was that You developed into a Grade 1 winner. And suddenly, the mare in Monroe's broodmare barn started to look a little more interesting.

Lewis wasn't available for comment right after the sale. But clearly the university, which has had some financial troubles in recent years, is happy to have such a windfall, though the money will not accrue directly to it. Under Louisiana law, the proceeds from Our Dani's sale go to the state, which runs the school and can give some of the proceeds of the sale to it.

Second-day prices in general were dramatically lower than those of Monday's opening session, although both sellers and buyers agreed that the top of the market was strong, with Tuesday's most attractive pedigrees and individuals bringing a premium.

"Considering that this is a middle-market sale, it's a lot stronger than one would have anticipated, especially in comparison to the November [breeding stock] sale," said bloodstock agent Headley Bell. "I thought November was the first time mares' prices weren't really covering their stud fees, and mares that were overbred weren't being appreciated by the market. To me, that was a real adjusting market.

"But this is a sold middle market. It's encouraging."

The Monday session's bullishness, in particular, surprised many. Thanks partly to three seven-figure horses and a large number of withdrawals, Monday's opening session posted strong figures.

Keeneland reported that 242 lots sold for gross receipts of $17,911,800, up substantially from last year's opening-day gross of $11,662,500, when 201 horses sold.

The 2002 opening-session average of $74,016 was up 28 percent from last year's $58,022.

Median yielded the day's only decline, dropping from $26,000 last year to $25,000. Monday's buyback rate was 17 percent, down dramatically from last year's 32 percent.

The auction was to continue through Thursday, with continuous sessions beginning at 10 a.m.