08/08/2006 11:00PM

Sky Mesa top-priced yearling

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - First-crop sire Sky Mesa kicked off Fasig-Tipton's Saratoga select yearling sale in fine fashion Tuesday night as sire of the evening's top-priced yearling. The $1.15-million filly went to John Ferguson, agent for Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum's Darley organization.

Gainesway consigned the strapping filly on behalf of breeder Debby Oxley, who is perhaps best known for campaigning 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos with her husband John. The session-topping filly, a chestnut with four white socks and a wide blaze, is out of the Grade 1-placed Deputy Minister mare Darling My Darling.

The evening's other seven-figure lot, Hip No. 35, sold just moments later. That was a $1 million Distorted Humor-Demi Souer colt that Shadwell Estate Company purchased from Lane's End, agent. The colt is a half-brother to Withers Stakes winner Fast Decision and to Grade 2-placed City Sister.

Shadwell is owned by Sheikh Mohammed's brother, Sheikh Hamdan al-Maktoum.

The first of two sessions grossed $18,790,000 for 60 lots, up from last year's opening-night total of $16,525,000 for 51 yearlings. Average dipped, falling from $324,020 to $13,167, but median climbed slightly, from $250,000 last year to $255,000. The buyback rate remained even with last year's at 25 percent.

The second and final session begins in the Humphrey S. Finney Sale Pavilion on Wednesday night at 7:30.