09/10/2007 11:00PM

Unbridled's Song colt draws $3.7M

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Michael J. Marten/Horsephotos
A $3.7 million Unbridled's Song colt was part of a big payday for the Farish family's Lane's End Farm, which sold 11 of the session's 19 million-dollar yearlings.
LEXINGTON, Ky. - A mating of Grade 1 winners paid off with a $3.7 million price tag Tuesday at the second and final select session at Keeneland's September yearling sale.

That's what Coolmore agent Demi O'Byrne bid to acquire a gray or roan colt by 1995 Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Unbridled's Song out of 2000 Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Status. He bought the colt on behalf of Coolmore boss John Magnier and partners Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith. The price topped the session and looked likely to top the entire sale, which continues through Sept. 25 with 13 open sessions. It also was part of a big payday for the Farish family's Lane's End Farm, which sold 11 of the session's 19 million-dollar yearlings.

The deluge of millionaire yearlings did not prevent a second day of declines in gross and average for the auction, but median rebounded well. The second session sold 166 yearlings for $77,982,000, down 18 percent from last season, when record $11.7 million lot Meydan City and 160 other horses sold. The 2007 average price fell 20 percent to $469,711. But median gained 11 percent, hitting $332,500. The session buy-back rate rose slightly, from 23 percent last year to 25 percent, but still indicated broad satisfaction with prices for the horses that went through the ring.

The two select sessions sold the same number of million-dollar horses as last year, 30. Cumulatively, the select days sold 337 horses, up 4 percent from last year, but gross was down 21 percent at $145,377,000, and average fell 24 percent to $431,386. The $300,000 median was the same as last year.

As on Monday, Coolmore and its perennial rival, Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum of Darley Stud, largely avoided bidding against each other, a factor that contributed to the overall declines. Maktoum had left the grounds, and members of his team were rarely seen outside the private offices in the sale pavilion, though his chief bloodstock adviser John Ferguson did make one flashy purchase on Maktoum's behalf, paying $1.9 million for a Distorted Humor colt consigned by Maynard Farm. The colt is out of the Storm Cat mare Stormy Bear and is from the family of such outstanding runners as Chief Bearheart, Explosive Red, and graded producer Ruby Ransom.

So when the bidding on Hip No. 432 escalated beyond $3 million, O'Byrne might have been surprised to know that the man who was tenaciously driving him up was Clarence Scharbauer Jr. The veteran buyer, now 82, appeared to enjoy his return to the sale ring thoroughly after an 11-year absence. He expressed surprise Monday when he had to go to $1.4 million for an Awesome Again half-sister to Afleet Alex. But on Tuesday, he came with guns fully loaded. When O'Byrne bid $3.3 million from behind the pavilion, Scharbauer aggressively countered with $3.5 million. That must have stung, because O'Byrne fired back with his own big raise, lifting the bar to $3.7 million. And there it stayed. Scharbauer shrugged and bowed out. He spent the next couple of hours catching up with old friends who kept stopping by his aisle seat in the pavilion to reminisce about Scharbauer's late wife, Dorothy, who died in 2005 and co-owned 1987 Kentucky Derby winner Alysheba with Clarence and their daughter Pamela.

"All I can say is we tried," Scharbauer said after losing the bidding duel.

But he didn't go home empty-handed. In addition to his filly, he also bought a $600,000 A.P. Indy-Mountain Girl colt and a $700,000 Unbridled's Song-Proposal colt from Lane's End and Dromoland, respectively.

"Do you know, oil was at $77.89 a barrel this morning," joked Scharbauer, a Texas oilman. "That's good for me. I'm sorry y'all have to pay $3 a gallon, but . . ."

O'Byrne said the Unbridled's Song colt was "arguably the best horse in the sale."

"The dam is a great mare, isn't she?" he said. "I liked this one very much. [Unbridled's Song] is a great stallion, and I think this cross might be the key; he might stay."

O'Byrne signed for five other horses, most notably Hip No. 501, a $2.6 million Unbridled's Song-Zing colt from Aaron and Marie Jones (Taylor Made, agent); Hip No. 265, a $2 million A.P. Indy-Blithe colt from Lane's End, and Hip No. 398, a $1.7 million Storm Cat-Mythomania colt that Overbrook sold through Eaton Sales.

Hip No. 398 was one of five Storm Cats to bring $1 million or more Tuesday, but only one went to Coolmore and none to Maktoum. That was a noticeable change from years past, when Coolmore and Maktoum, in particular, often competed to buy the stallion's progeny at multimillion-dollar prices.

But O'Byrne, perhaps mindful that Coolmore owns an undisclosed number of shares in the Overbrook Farm stallion, pointed out that Storm Cat was still fashionable enough that he had purchased that $1.7 million colt by him.

"I loved the Storm Cat that I bought, too," O'Byrne said. "There just weren't as many of them here, for whatever reason."

It didn't take long for the Tuesday session, the final of two select days, to set a million-dollar tone. The first horse in the ring, an Unbridled's Song colt also consigned by Lane's End, sold for $1.05 million to agent John Moynihan, who would not disclose his clients, other than to say they are a domestic partnership that intends to race the colt. The $2 million A.P. Indy-Blithe colt sold less than 20 minutes later and was followed by yet another Lane's End-consigned millionaire, a $1.2 million Mineshaft colt out of Epsom Oaks winner Casual Look that Barnes & Noble chief executive Leonard Riggio's My MeadowView Stable bought. The rest of the afternoon's results showed an unexpected strength among buyers with racing stables in North America.

Other high prices included $1.7 million for Hip No. 300, an A.P. Indy-Desert Tigress colt that Three Chimneys sold as agent and also purchased as agent for an unidentified partnership; $1.6 million for Hip No. 490, a Storm Cat-Welcome Surprise filly the MAB Agency bought from Lane's End; $1.55 million for Hip No. 378, a Giant's Causeway-Mayville's Magic filly that Robert and Mark Krembil's Canadian-based Chiefswood Stable purchased from Lane's End, agent; $1.5 million for Hip No. 444, a Gone West-Silken Cat filly, a full sister to sprint champion Speightstown, that Live Oak Plantation bought from Aaron and Marie Jones (Taylor Made, agent); and $1.5 million for a Storm Cat-Win Crafty Lady filly that the Joneses bought from Taylor Made, agent.

The Keeneland September yearling sale continues through Sept. 25, with sessions starting at 10 a.m. daily in the Keeneland sale pavilion. There is no selling on Sept. 14, the auction's dark day.