09/11/2002 12:00AM

Some solid numbers, but across-the-board declines

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - As of 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, a $450,000 Thunder Gulch filly was the session-leader on the third day of the .

Robert Scanlon, agent, purchased the Thunder Gulch filly from BryLynn Farm (Taylor Made, agent) at the auction's first open session, which followed two select sessions that saw marked declines from last year.

The chestnut filly sold as Hip No. 770 and is a daughter of stakes producer Andriana B. (Far North). She is a half-sister to Grade 2 winner Crafty C. T. and Grade 3-placed stakes winner Carmen's Baby.

The day's second highest price at the time was the $400,000 that Bob and Beverly Lewis paid for Hip No. 785, a Seeking the Gold colt out of the unraced Dayjur mare Bethany.

A $2.5 million Storm Cat-Clear Mandate colt was one of eight lots that sold for $1 million or more on Tuesday at the auction's second and last select session. Despite those seven-figure sales, the session ended with declines across the board. The second-session gross fell 34 percent to $50,145,000 for 182 yearlings, while average dropped 29 percent to $275,522, and median slipped 5 percent to $175,000. At last year's second session, which was delayed by one day after the terrorist attacks occurred on the intended sale day of Sept. 11, 197 yearlings sold for $75,987,000 for an average price of $385,721 and a median of $185,000.

Buybacks, the percentage of horses that did not reach their sellers' reserve prices, were also high at 35 percent.

The Tuesday session-topper and likely sale-topper, the $2.5 million Storm Cat colt, went to Irish agent Demi O'Byrne, who represents Thoroughbred owner Michael Tabor and his usual racing partner, Mrs. John Magnier. Lane's End, agent, sold the colt, whose dam is the multiple Grade 1 winner and millionaire Clear Mandate. Last year, O'Byrne signed for the $3.3 million full brother to this colt; that horse, now named Newfoundland, is a winner in three starts in Ireland.

"The numbers were solid, but I'm disappointed that the not-solds were pretty high," Keeneland's director of sales, Geoffrey Russell, said of the session. "I like that the median is pretty tight with last year's."

Together, the two select sessions sold 377 horses for gross receipts of $100,576,000, down 26 percent from last year's select portion, when 353 yearlings sold. The two-day average this year was $266,780, off 31 percent from last year, and median fell 19 percent to $170,000.

Russell was philosophical about the declines, which are in line with steep drops in income at the summer's earlier boutique yearling auctions at Keeneland July and Fasig-Tipton Saratoga in August. "The market went up extremely fast for the last 10 years, and historically the Thoroughbred market goes up and then adjusts about every 10 years," he said.

Japanese-breds are 1 for 3

Of three Japanese-bred horses cataloged to the Keeneland September select sessions, only one actually sold. Hip No. 39, a Sunday Silence colt out of Grade 1 winner Roamin Rachel, was to be the only lot at the auction by the late Japanese stallion and North American Horse of the Year Sunday Silence, who died in Japan last month after foundering. He was withdrawn by consignor Taylor Made, agent.

The second Japanese-bred in the sale was Hip No. 55, a Forty Niner half-brother to stakes-placed Castelli Secrets. That colt, offered by Hill 'n' Dale, agent, failed to reach his reserve on a final bid of $180,000.

The lot that did sell was another Forty Niner yearling, this one a filly out of the stakes-placed Sunday Silence mare Western Sharp. She brought $285,000 from Amerman Racing.

Street Cry arrives at Jonabell

Darley Stud's recently retired Street Cry arrived Tuesday at Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum's Jonabell Farm in Lexington, where he will stand the 2003 breeding season. The farm will host an open house Friday, at which it will show the colt hourly, from 9 to 4. The Keeneland September yearling sale will be dark Friday.