04/06/2009 12:00AM

Yearling prices dip in Australia


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Australia's Inglis Easter yearling sale, the first major select yearling auction of the year, has started with downturns.

The three-day auction opened Sunday. Through Monday's second session, the Easter auction had sold 267 yearlings for about $48,051,025 in American currency, resulting in an average of approximately $179,966. The two-day median was about $134,900. Compared year-to-year in the local currency of Australian dollars, the gross was down 18 percent, while average and median fell 26 percent and 17 percent, respectively, from the second-day cumulative figures in 2008.

Buybacks remained low by recent U.S. standards at 21 percent but were up from last year's Inglis Easter auction, when they were just 16 percent.

The sale-leader through Monday was an Encosta de Lago-Show Dancing colt that Dean Watt's Dynamic Syndications bought for about $1,278,000 from Emirates Park Stud. The bay or brown colt is a three-quarter sibling to Group 1 winner Al Maher and a half-sibling to Group 3 winner Salameh. Watt outbid Coolmore Stud owner John Magnier, who was represented by Coolmore employee Colm Santry.

Monday's session-topper was the first foal out of two-time Australian Horse of the Year and four-time champion Makybe Diva. Tony Santic's Makybe operation consigned the bay Galileo colt, who brought approximately $1,065,000 from Melbourne trainer Danny O'Brien.

"The market is pretty difficult at the moment, and if he didn't make that sort of money I was very happy to take him home, because he's such a great type," Santic said in an Inglis release. "But he made his money.

"This was one of my biggest thrills, to see her first foal go for a lot of money, and hopefully down the track he's able to win some great races and, hopefully, you never know, he might become a stallion. You've got to dream."

With one session remaining, the sale's figures were down more steeply than last year's Keeneland September yearling sale returns. The latter auction was underway when the stock market plummeted and the global financial crisis gathered force. Keeneland September ended with a 15 percent drop in gross for 3,799 yearlings. Average fell 10 percent and median declined 12 percent.

Inglis executives cited the continuing global financial crisis as a major factor in the 2009 Easter sale's slides so far.

"This has been the trend right through the sales season, and buyers have secured value like they haven't done for many years," managing director Mark Webster said after Sunday's opening session. "Having said that, there are many other sales companies who would love to average $226,000 [Australian]; it's still a fair result in the current climate."

Back to work for Sky Mesa

Three Chimneys stallion Sky Mesa returned to stud duty at the Midway, Ky., farm on Monday.

A 9-year-old son of Pulpit, Sky Mesa underwent two surgeries in the middle of February after colicking.

Grade 1 winner Sky Mesa led North America's second-crop sire list last year and is ranked second, behind Empire Maker, on the 2009 third-crop sire list. He is the sire of Grade 1 winner Sky Diva and such other graded winners as Sky Lighter, Beethoven, and Storm Mesa. He also is the sire of Blue Grass Stakes candidates Terrain, General Quarters, and Join in the Dance.

Sky Mesa stands for an advertised fee of $30,000.

OBS April catalog available

The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company has posted the catalog for its April 20-23 spring juvenile sale online at www.obssales.com. Catalogs also are available at the OBS sale grounds in Ocala, Fla.

The four-day sale comprises 1,389 horses. The under-tack previews will take place April 14-17 at the OBS facility, starting daily at 8 a.m. Hip Nos. 1-348 will breeze April 14. Hip Nos. 349-696 will work April 15. Hip Nos. 697-1044 will work on April 16. Hip Nos. 1045-1389 will breeze on April 17.

All auction sessions will start at 10:30 a.m.