12/09/2002 1:00AM

Sunline said to be out of Keeneland


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Champion mare Sunline will not be coming to the Keeneland January sale after all, according to a report Sunday in New Zealand's Thoroughbred News.

Sunline, a three-time horse of the year in her native New Zealand and in Australia, was set to be the highlight of the Jan. 6 opening of Keeneland's five-day all-ages sale. But the mare's co-owner, Trevor McKee, told Thoroughbred News that Sunline "is still here and definitely will not be going through that sale. The current situation is that she will not be going to the Keeneland auction, and at this stage she has not changed hands."

Earlier this year, Sunline's owners were considering a full or partial purchase offer but decided to send her through the auction ring when that deal failed to materialize, according to a representative at Taylor Made, the agency that was to consign Sunline, a 7-year-old Desert Sun mare.

"We haven't spoken to Trevor McKee since this report of her withdrawal from the sale," said Mark Taylor of the sales agency. "She is one of the greatest mares of all time, and I'm sure they have a lot of options on the table with a mare of that quality. It sounds as if they have elected to take an option that will allow for them to maintain a partial interest in the mare. This has not been confirmed by Taylor Made, and we hope to reach Trevor McKee today."