Wednesday morning at the Keeneland January sale.

Wednesday morning at the Keeneland January sale.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Third Session Shows Strength at Keeneland January Sale

Following a slow start, the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale picked up steam Wednesday during its third session in Lexington. The number sold, gross revenue, average price, and median price all were ahead of last year's figures for the comparable session. But the auction's cumulative results still remained behind 2006's pace for number sold, gross, and average.

Even though most of the overall results are down, Keeneland's director of sales, Geoffrey Russell, said: "It's been a very solid sale all the way through. Anything that has perceived quality has sold very, very well, even on Monday and Tuesday."

The 254 horses and one stallion share sold Wednesday brought a gross of $9,709,800 and averaged $38,078. Their median was $23,000. Compared to last year's third session, when 247 horses were sold, the gross rose 4.6% from $9,283,800. The average increased 1.3% from $37,586. And the median advanced 15% from $20,000.

The buy-back rate fell from 22.6% last year to 18.5% this year.

Bettarun Fast, winner last year of the Santa Paula (gr. III) and Railbird (gr. III) Stakes, brought the session's top price of $350,000. Southern Equine Stables purchased the bay filly from John Sikura's Hill 'n' Dale Sales Agency, agent.

A 4-year-old daughter of Kelly Kip, Bettarun Fast was consigned as a broodmare prospect. She raced for Stephen and Patricia Fitzpatrick, capturing five of her 12 races and earning $255,505. In 2005, she scored in the Catcharisingstar Stakes at Calder Race Course. Bettarun Fast's dam is the 11-year-old unraced Dispersal mare Split Decision.

A strapping yearling colt from the first crop of graded winner Chapel Royalsold for the second-highest price of $310,000. The buyer was Gerry Dilger's Dromoland Farm, but the name Trade Wind Farm was on the sale ticket.

"He's a fine horse; look at all the people who followed him up here," said Dilger, who plans to pinhook the colt.

Consigned by Kildare Stud, agent, the colt is a half-brother to Cherry Hill Lady (by Grand Slam), winner of the restricted Adena Springs Oakley Stakes in 2005. Their dam is the 14-year-old Storm Cat mare Casanova Storm, who finished second in the 1996 Suffolk Downs Oaks and third in the 1995 Miss Grillo Stakes (gr. III).

Richard Brodie, James Buckley, and the late Robert Scanlon bred the $310,000 colt in Kentucky.

Chief Officer, winner of last year's restricted New York Breeders' Futurity against males and the restricted Lady Fingers Stakes, was a buy-back at $750,000. Taylor Made Sales Agency consigned the 3-year-old filly as agent for Egyptian entrepreneur Ahmed Zayat.

The results for the January sale's first three days combined were 733 horses and stallion shares sold, a gross of $51,792,000, an average of $70,658, and a median of $40,000. The gross was down 8.2% from 2006's comparable figure of $56,433,300 when 744 lots were sold. The average dropped 6.8% from $75,851. This year's median of $40,000 was the same last year's.

The 2007 buy-back rate was 20.7%.

"I'm not panicking," said Mark Taylor of Taylor Made Sales Agency of the setbacks so far. "I don't think in the whole big scheme of things that they mean anything.

"January is just a naturally volatile sale. Nobody ever points their horses to January, really. The (Keeneland) November sale is the first choice for people selling the high quality stuff. If you end up in January, it’s by default because you didn't make the November deadline or maybe because there's a dispersal that comes up. So, there is kind of a mixed bag of horses in January. I also don’t believe the catalog was as strong as it was last year for the first two days."

The sale continues Thursday, beginning at 10 a.m. (EST), and runs through Jan. 15.

Leading Sires, Consignors, Buyers & Broodmares/Prospects:  Session Three

Hip-by-Hip Results from Keeneland