09/16/2005 12:00AM

Yearling sale takes a break


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The 14-day Keeneland September yearling sale paused for a breath on Friday after a heady week that featured a sale-record $9.7 million Storm Cat colt and strong increases from last year's first-week returns.

The $9.7 million Storm Cat colt, out of Tranquility Lake, epitomized the atmosphere during the opening week. Sold on Tuesday, the last of two select sessions, the colt went to Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum after a fierce bidding duel with Coolmore Stud's principal, John Magnier. Mill Ridge, agent, sold the colt on behalf of Marty and Pam Wygod.

The $9.7 million colt was one of 37 horses to sell for $1 million or more in the first two days and is the third-highest-priced yearling ever sold at public auction, behind $13.1 million Seattle Dancer in 1985 and $10.2 million Snaafi Dancer in 1983. Both of those colts sold at the Keeneland July yearling sale, which Keeneland no longer conducts.

The $9.7 million colt also underscored the popularity of the 22-year-old Overbrook Farm stallion Storm Cat. Through Thursday's session, 24 Storm Cat yearlings had sold for a total of $45,485,000, yielding an average price of $1,895,208.

Maktoum and Magnier battled it out repeatedly during the select sessions and helped considerably toward the double-digit gains the opening week saw overall. Through Thursday's fourth session, the auction had sold a total of 917 yearlings for an aggregate of $271,815,000, an increase of 17 percent over last year's four-day cumulative figure of $231,743,000 for 898 horses sold. The 2005 average price rose 15 percent from last year, reaching $296,418. The four-day median also rose, 13 percent to $170,000.

On Thursday, the day's top seller was a $900,000 colt by Distorted Humor, whose other progeny include 2003 Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide. Jess Jackson of Stonestreet Stables purchased the $900,000 colt, who is out of the Deputy Minister mare Barnie Fife. Warrendale Sales, agent, sold the colt.

The 14-day sale was to continue on Saturday and run until Sept. 26. Sessions begin daily at 10 a.m. in the Keeneland sale pavilion in Lexington.