04/07/2009 12:00AM

Vallenzeri brings $1.9M at Keeneland


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Vallenzeri, a record $7.7 million buy-back at last year's Keeneland September yearling sale, returned to the Keeneland auction ring Monday night to sell for $1.9 million at opening night of the April 2-year-old sale, which had mixed results overall.

Kaleem Shah, founder and president of the Calnet telecommunications firm in Reston, Va., made the purchase through trainer Bob Baffert. Eddie Woods, agent, consigned the colt on behalf of the Allen E. Paulson Living Trust.

Vallenzeri is the son of two Horses of the Year, A.P. Indy and Azeri. A sizable chestnut colt, he had worked an eighth-mile in 10.20 seconds at Keeneland's under-tack show on April 2.

Baffert said he had not been in on the bidding for Vallenzeri as a yearling but was impressed with how the colt had developed in the intervening time.

Monday's first of two sessions ended with losses, as widely expected in an auction season that has seen the select 2-year-old market decline roughly 30 percent from last year. Opening night sold 31 juveniles for $6,885,000, down 3 percent from last season, when 34 horses sold. The average rose 6 percent to $222,097 from last year's $209,618. But the median's 27 percent fall, from $165,000 to $120,000, was more in keeping with losses seen throughout the season.

The buy-back rate declined slightly from last year's opening-night figure of 47 percent to 46 percent this year.

There were 49 horses scratched from the Monday session.

The sale was to continue with its final session Tuesday, starting at 7 p.m. at the Keeneland sale pavilion.