The Keeneland July selected yearling sale began on a strong note July 18 as competitive bidding by an international cast of buyers pushed numbers up across-the-board. The sales company reported 44 horses were sold for a gross of $29,477,000, which was up 22.3% over the first-session gross of $24,110,000 in 1999 when 41 horses were sold. Monday's average price of $669,932 represented a 13.9% gain over last year's $588,049 figure. The session median price of $512,500 was up 28.1% over the $400,000 median last year.
"It's certainly a tremendous start," said Keeneland sales director Rogers Beasley. "It was a little bit up from where we thought it would be. One of the nice things was that the middle market was consistent."
"The market is excellent," declared Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. "The good horses are at a premium, and they are very hard to buy. We're paying a little bit more than we expected on all the ones we bought."
The $2.5-million, top-priced colt was a son of Broad Brush produced from 1988 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Winning Colors (by Caro), who will be inducted into racing's Hall of Fame in August. The colt was purchased by Oregon lumberman Aaron U. Jones, who prevailed in a bidding war with Lukas and his associates, Satish and Anne Sanan of Padua Stables. According to Jones, his decision was influenced by the presence of Winning Colors in the sale topper's pedigree.
"I think when a mare can win the Kentucky Derby and beat the colts, those are pretty good credentials," Jones said. "This colt looked like he's a very correct, big, strong individual, and he's got all the makings to go back and do what his mother did. I think he could be worth more than what I paid."
The colt, who is a half-brother to stakes-placed Golden Colors (by Mr. Prospector) was bred in Kentucky by Gainesway Thoroughbreds and consigned by Gainesway as agent. Gainesway Farm near Lexington, and its sales operations, are headed by Graham Beck of South Africa.
A late foal born on May 22 of last year, the sale-topping colt did not start to "come around" physically until "the last few weeks," according to Gainesway executive Michael Hernon. The price exceeded the reserve by a significant amount, he said.
The second-highest price, $2.15 million, was brought by a Seeking the Gold colt produced from graded stakes-placed Sheila's Revenge (by Lord Avie). Bred in Virginia by Morven Stud and consigned by Walnut Green, agent, he was purchased by Padua.
Padua was making its first extensive purchasing venture at a sale since Satish Sanan's computer-related business suffered financial setbacks last fall. Padua purchased four yearlings for $3,875,000 on its own and a $950,000 Hennessy -- Princess Alydar colt in partnership with W.T. Young's Overbrook Farm.
The first session's leading buyer in terms of gross expenditures was Irish veterinarian Demi O'Byrne. The Coolmore Stud representative spent $5,055,000 for six yearlings, including a $1.5-million A.P. Indy -- Milliardaire colt and a $1.1-million Storm Cat -- Elegant Glance colt.
John Ferguson Bloodstock, representing Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum of Dubai's ruling family, spent $4 million for three yearlings, including a $1.3-million Deputy Minister -- Brink colt and a $1.2-million Mr. Prospector -- Fit to Scout colt. Sheikh Mohammed was not on hand for the auction.
Among the other big spenders were pharmaceutical executive Eugene Melnyk of Barbados and Katsumi Yoshida, who owns Northern Farm in Japan. Melnyk purchased a $1-million Deputy Minister -- Pretty Flame colt and a $475,000 Dixieland Band -- Valse Musette filly. Yoshida did not attend the auction, but was represented by his son Shunsuke and other members of his farm's staff. In his name, they purchased a $1.4-million Mr. Prospector -- Golden Pond colt.
The sale resumes at 1:30 p.m. (EDT) Tuesday. (Hip-by-hip results, leaders