Updated on 09/15/2011 1:01PM

Storm Cat colt brings $6.5 million


LEXINGTON, Ky. - With a $6. 4 million Storm Cat-Halory colt leading the way, Keeneland's September yearling sale resumed Wednesday with a show of market confidence in the wake of Tuesday's attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.

The second session of the 13-day sale had been postponed from Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the Thoroughbred world's usual big bidders converged to produce the season's top-selling yearling so far, the $6.4 million colt who was purchased by agent Demi O'Byrne.

The colt was the auction's top price on Wednesday, the sale's final select session. O'Byrne, representing Coolmore Stud owner John Magnier and English owner Michael Tabor, signed the ticket for the Storm Cat colt after fending off a long challenge by John Ferguson, who was representing Dubai minister of defense Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum. Bidding on the colt, who was offered by Lane's End on behalf of Stonerside Farm, opened at a startling $500,000 and was immediately raised to $1 million on the second bid.

Sheikh Mohammed had purchased the season's previous top seller on Monday's opening session, another Storm Cat colt, out of the Affirmed mare Law Affirmed.

On Wednesday, by the time the Storm Cat-Halory colt stepped into the ring, the session already had produced seven other lots of $1 million or more. Seven more seven-figure yearlings would be sold later in the session to bring the day's total to 15.

Sheikh Mohammed, who attended the sale in person, purchased a $3.8 million Mr. Prospector colt out of Destination Mir from Lazy E Ranch and a $2.3 million Deputy Minister filly out of Grade 1-placed Cinnamon Sugar (Ire) from Lane's End. O'Byrne, acquired a $3.3 million Storm Cat colt out of multiple Grade 1 winner Clear Mandate and a $1.3 million Storm Cat brother to champion Lemon Drop Kid, both from Lane's End. Satish Sanan's Padua Stables bought Lakland, agent's $1,550,000 Saint Ballado half-brother to Yes It's True. Mrs. M. J. "Laddie" Dance signed for Lane's End's $1.2 million half-brother to champions A. P. Indy and Summer Squall. Canadian Eugene Melnyk bought Monticule's $2.1 million Mr. Prospector-Lady Madonna filly and Brookdale, agent's $1 million Touch Gold half-brother to Canadian stakes-winner Queen of the Ice and graded winner Swingin on Ice. Another familiar face in the bidding arena was The Thoroughbred Corp.'s principal, Prince Ahmed bin Salman, whose purchases were highlighted early by a $975,000 A.P. Indy colt out of graded-placed Everhope, also sold by Lane's End, agent.

Wednesday's session ended with 197 horses sold for a total of $75,987,000. The average price of $385,721 was down 8.1 percent from last year's average of $420,000 for a comparable session.

Overall the $386,170 average price for 353 horses sold at the first two sessions stands 5.5 percent ahead of last year's average of $366,009. This year's median price after two sessions jumped from $195,000 last year to $210,000, while gross sales dipped 15.9 percent (from $162,142,000 to $136,318,000).

The buyers' confidence reassured Bill Farish, whose family owns Lane's End, although little could comfort him after he received news that one of his close friends was missing in the World Trade Center attack.

"This is a tough, tough day," a drawn-looking Farish said. "There are a lot of very heavy hearts here today, and so many people know people who were lost yesterday."

Bloodstock advisor Mike Brown said: "I didn't know what to expect today. But it's essentially proceeding as normal. Some of these horses might not be selling for quite what they might have if yesterday hadn't happened, but the buyers aren't running for cover, either. I still have an empty feeling from yesterday, but it makes me a bit brighter being out here. It's reassuring that people are here. This is encouraging not just for our business but for the world at large."

Keeneland president Nick Nicholson began the session with a moment of silence in memory of the victims of Tuesday's attacks. He also announced that Keeneland, consignors, and buyers, have begun coordinating a relief fund for the victims, with donations going to the American Red Cross.

Consignors and buyers alike were supportive of Keeneland's decision to resume selling after the one-day delay, although agent O'Byrne declined to make any comments after his purchases.

"We support the decision to conduct the sale," he said, "but I feel it would be inappropriate for me to comment today, to give a song and dance about the horses after yesterday. We are here to conduct our business, but it is not a happy time."

In a statement issued Wednesday morning, Nicholson said: "If for one moment we thought that postponing this sale would help the situation, we would do so without hesitation. Unfortunately, it will not help. Any further postponement only will have a detrimental impact on our community and our industry."

Horsemen had been concerned that further delay could have negative effects on the health of the yearlings, many of whom have shipped from locations around the country and who arrived at Keeneland with consignors expecting only a temporary stay.