11/10/2010 8:15PM

Stakes winner Lady Alexander brings $410,000

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Lady Alexander, a 4-year-old filly, led Wednesday's third session at Keeneland November.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - It was still largely a buyer's market Wednesday as the two-week Keeneland November sale entered its third session off losses that were expected but no less painful to sellers. But strong prices for individual mares and weanlings proved there was still money available, and some consignors were hopeful that strength in regional markets such as Pennsylvania could aid horses selling later in the auction.

Wednesday's session endured more losses as gross and average fell 21 percent and median dropped by 13 percent. The session-topper was the $410,000 racing or broodmare prospect Lady Alexander. Louisiana-based owners and breeders Ginger and Keith Myers purchased Lady Alexander from the Three Chimneys consignment.

The auction's first two days saw combined average and median fall 11 percent and 16 percent. Declines were largely expected in comparison with  last year's statistics, when the Overbrook Farm dispersal alone sold 38 horses for $21 million.

In 2010, a continued lack of credit appeared to be hampering many mare buyers, and foreign-based purchasers from more lively economies (or those with enough capital to remain unaffected by the downturn) were picking up some slack in the market. Among the most active on the upper market were Japanese buyers such as Shadai and Northern Farm, which together had spent about $5 million at Keeneland by Wednesday afternoon. Australian concerns Kia-Ora Stud and Waratah Thoroughbreds also bid for million-dollar mares early in the sale, benefiting from a thriving racing economy and beneficial exchange rates.

On Wednesday, the third session grossed $21,249,100 for 254 horses, down 21 percent from last year's aggregate for 252 horses. The Wednesday average, $83,658, also was down 21 percent from 2009's figure, and the $65,000 median was 13 percent lower than last year's. Keeneland officials noted that 2009's session figures were plumped up by the Overbook Farm dispersal, which produced two mares that sold for $500,000 or more. The 2010 session's buybacks bumped up from 19 percent to 23 percent.

Cumulatively, the November auction's first three sessions had sold 580 horses for $91,594,100, down 7 percent from last year. The $157,921 average fell 12 percent, and the $100,000 was down 9 percent. The buyback rate stayed the same at 21 percent.

Session-topper Lady Alexander, a 4-year-old by Exchange Rate, already has earned $369,008 and won five stakes in New Jersey. She caught the eye of the Myerses' trainer and racing manager, Glenn Delahoussaye, who encouraged the couple to aim high when bidding on her.

"He paid a little more than I think he thought he'd have to," Delahoussaye said by phone after the hammer fell at $410,000, "but these good fillies coming off the racetrack, you have to go to bat for them."

The Myerses had bid unsuccessfully on four other mares during the Monday and Tuesday sessions, and now, Delahoussaye opined, they had gotten a filly they could have some fun with before retiring her to their small breed-to-race broodmare band in Sunset, La. With Lady Alexander, that mare band now numbers eight at the couple's Coteau Grove Farms.

Keith Myers was in Louisiana and bid via phone through one of Keeneland's auctioneers, the affable Spanky Assiter, who also conducted the post-sale press conference with Delahoussaye via speaker phone in a sale pavilion office.

"We'll campaign her in the Southwest," Delahoussaye said, adding that Fair Grounds, Oaklawn, and possibly also slots-rich Delta Downs will be on the filly's agenda for the next year until she's likely to be retired. Her first start for the now 21-horse Coteau Grove racing stable probably will play to Lady Alexander's strength: sprinting. Delahoussaye said he had a 5 1/2-furlong race in December in mind on Dec. 18 at Fair Grounds.

Lady Alexander sold late in the session, and her price edged out the previous session-leader, $350,000 Wine and Dyne. Nicoma Bloodstock, agent, bought Wine and Dyne, a 6-year-old Dynaformer mare from the Hill 'n' Dale agency. She is a winner and six-figure earner who was cataloged in foal to Giant's Causeway.

Wednesday was a good day for weanlings. The session's highest-priced foal was a $330,000 colt bought for resale. Gabriel Duignan, on behalf of Foxtale Farm, signed the receipt for Hip No. 645, the Taylor Made agency's son of Street Sense and Autumnal.

"He's the real deal," said Duignan. "The real good ones are expensive. It's spotty for the rest. I was running out of steam. I just loved him, but I didn't mean to go that far."

Duignan echoed other buyers in the burgeoning, but still highly selective, weanling trade. At the first two sessions, three weanlings brought the sale-leading price of $450,000: a Dynaformer filly out of Sometime that Pauls Mill sold to Coolmore Stud, a Henrythenavigator-Versailles Treaty colt that the Paramount agency sold to the cryptically named (and determinedly anonymous) DMI, and a Street Sense-Time for a Crown colt that Shadwell Estate Co. bought from Paragon Farms, agent.

On Wednesday, other high-priced weanlings included a pair of Candy Ride colts. One was a $260,000 son of Finding Aurum that Acorn Equine bought, and the other was a $250,000 colt out of Seeking Results that went to Pacific Racing. The Taylor Made agency consigned both. Another Taylor Made Sales grad, a $240,000 Speightstown colt out of Fifth Avenue Ball, also cracked the $200,000 mark when selling to Baccari Bloodstock.

"It's strong," said Brian Graves, who was scouting weanling resale prospects Wednesday. "I don't think everybody's operating on credit. The babies that resell as yearlings are the highest -quality ones, and quality always sells, I think even more so when there's a credit crunch. That's what everyone flocks to."

If buyers were finding prices too high, many sellers felt exactly the opposite. Pauls Mill owner Ben Walden pronounced the market "adequate."

"I think there's been a real shortage of weanling buyers beyond the pinhook level and end-user level," he said. "But mares that don't have holes in them seem to be selling fine. I had a couple of mares I thought were $200,000 or $300,000 range, and there was a shortage of interest in those Tuesday. But as the market gets down to averaging $50,000 or $60,000, things will pick up. A lot of secondary markets - Pennsylvania, Indiana - are strong, and as we start offering these mares between $50,000 and $80,000, I think it will get better."

The sale continues through Nov. 20 with sessions starting daily at 10 a.m.