The 59th annual Keeneland July select yearling sale gets under way at 7:30 p.m. (EDT) on Monday with 200 horses cataloged for the two-day auction. The second session will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Among the horses in the sale are the first foals of champion filly Countess Diana and grade 1 winner Tomisue's Delight. Others include a full sister to champion Anees and half siblings to champions Artax, Gourmet Girl, Sky Beauty, and Victory Gallop.
As an indication of the continuing international appeal of the July sale, additional horses cataloged include a full brother to Japanese champion Grass Wonder, and half siblings to Canadian champions Chief Bearhart and Saoirse, Irish champion Rossini, French champion Culture Vulture, and Brazilian champions Virginie and Be Fair.
"We have a strong catalog that appeals to both foreign and domestic buyers," said Keeneland's director of sales Geoffrey Russell. "When we inspected the yearlings this spring, our inspection team was very pleased with the quality of individuals.
"Farms have been busy showing horses to potential buyers and we expect the leading buyers from recent years to be represented," Russell continued. "We're also optimistic that the tax law changes, allowing a bonus depreciation on yearlings, will have a positive influence on the sale."
Products of the July sale, who have won stakes races recently, include Sophisticat, a 3-year-old daughter of Storm Cat out of champion Serena's Song. She won two group races in Europe this year. Bought for $3.4 million at the auction's 2000 edition, Sophisticat won the Prix de la Grotte (Fr-III) and more recently the Coronation Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot on June 21.
Legislator, a 3-year-old son of Royal Academy out of Quite Honestly, scored his first stakes victory in the Crown Royal American Turf Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs on May 3. Legislator was bought for $190,000 at the 2000 Keeneland July sale.
Wiseman's Ferry, who went through the ring at the 2000 sale, won the Lone Star Derby (gr. III) on May 11. It was the first stakes victory for the 3-year-old son of Hennessy out of Emmaus.
Among the prominent stallions with yearlings in the sale this year are Danzig with five, Seeking the Gold with six, A.P. Indy with seven, Thunder Gulch with two, Storm Cat with six, the late Nureyev with two, Kingmambo with 11, Deputy Minister with 15, Gulch with one, Wild Again with two, and Unbridled with seven.
Sires with yearlings from their first crop of foals in the sale are Artax (1), Charismatic (2), Exploit (6), Forestry (7), Horse Chestnut (1), Old Trieste (5), Silver Charm (1), and Victory Gallop (1).
The highest price during last year's July sale was the $4 million bid for a Saint Ballado colt out of Charm a Gendarme. A Seeking the Gold filly out of champion Escena attracted a bid of $3.7 million. All told, 16 yearlings brought $1 million or more during the sale and a total of 89 yearlings were sold for an industry-record average of $710,247. The average has risen at each of the last seven sales.
The world-record price for a yearling at public auction was established at the 1985 July sale when Seattle Dancer was sold for $13.1 million.
The hip numbers of the outs, those horses withdrawn from the sale, are: 13, 26, 30, 49, 54, 70, 77, 81, 83, 86, 102, 103, 109, 114, 122, 129, 140, 141, 146, 148, 172, 182 and 188.