A.P. Indy ridgling, sold for $3.1 million.

A.P. Indy ridgling, sold for $3.1 million.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Led by Sheikh Mohammed, Keeneland Sale Off to Solid Start

Boosted by the aggressive buying of Sheikh Mohammed, with additional support from a broad base of domestic and foreign buyers, the marathon Keeneland September yearling sale got off to a solid start Monday.

Keeneland reported 170 horses sold for a gross of $63,185,000, an average of $371,676 and a median price of $262,500. The 49 horses that did not attain their reserve prices represented 22.4% of the total through the ring.

The gross represented a 4.3% gain, the average was up 1.9%, and the median increased 16.7% over the same session one year ago when 166 horses were reported sold for a total of $60,555,000, an average of $364,789 and a median of $225,000. The 70 horses that did not attain their reserve prices during the first session last year represented 29.6% of the total through the ring.

"I thought it was an exceedingly solid sales session," said Keeneland's director of sales Geoffrey Russell. "An increase in the median and a decrease in the RNAs are the stories. Consignors came in with realistic expectations and that was reflected in their reserves."

With agent John Ferguson signing the tickets on his behalf, Sheikh Mohammed was by far the session's leading buyer, with 19 purchases totaling $14,435,000.

Included in Sheikh Mohammed's acquisitions was a son of 2003 leading sire A.P. Indy purchased for $3.1 million. Produced from grade II winner Sahara Gold (by Seeking the Gold), the ridgling was consigned by Lane's End, agent for Stonerside Stables. The session topper's second dam is Desert Stormer, whose seven victories included the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I).

Ferguson said Sheikh Mohammed thought the son of A.P. Indy was "one of the very best in the sale" and had no trepidation going to that level to acquire a ridgling, which is a male horse with at least one undescended testicle. "Being a ridgling didn't hurt A.P. Indy and we don't believe it will hurt this fellow either," Ferguson said. "He has a great pedigree and was raised at a great farm. I saw him several times earlier this year and was impressed with his development."

The agent said part of their interest in the ridgling was as a future stallion prospect at Sheikh Mohammed's Jonabell Farm division near Lexington.

Second-highest price of $2.8 million was paid by Irish agent Demi O'Byrne for the final horse in the ring Monday, a son of Unbridled's Song produced from Cruising Haven (by Shelter Half). Consigned by Paramount Sales, the colt is a half-brother to grade II winners Royal Haven and Belterra.

O'Byrne said the colt was purchased on behalf of Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith and would likely remain in the U.S. to be raced.

Ferguson and Sheikh Mohammed also paid the session's third-highest price of $1,700,000 for a Storm Cat filly that he said was "one of the most outstanding fillies we've ever seen." Consigned by Lane's End, the filly is out of the winning Alydar mare Warm Mood, who has produced three stakes winners.

The session's fourth-highest price of $1.5 million was paid by Stanley Gumberg's Skara Glen Stable for a Fusaichi Pegasus  filly. Consigned by Michael Byrne, as agent, the May 15, 2003 foal was produced from the winning Northern Dancer mare Golden Circle, a full sister to European champions Try My Best and El Gran Senor and the dam of Irish group III winner Castle Gandolfo. Winner of the 2000 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), Fusaichi Pegasus is represented by stakes winner Roman Ruler from his first crop to race this year.

Agent Reynolds Bell Jr., on behalf of an unnamed client, paid $1.3 million for a Storm Cat filly out of multiple grade I winner Strategic Maneuver, a daughter of Cryptoclearance who has produced grade II winner Cat Fighter, also a daughter of Storm Cat, and Irish group III winner Ishiguru. The filly was consigned by Eaton Sales.

"Her full sister could run and we hope she can run as well," Bell said. "She is a real elegant filly. She is very athletic."

Also bringing a final bid in excess of seven figures was a Giant's Causeway colt named Joe Hirsch, who was purchased by O'Byrne for $1,150,000. The colt, consigned by Dromoland, agent, is out of the Pancho Villa mare Statuette, a grade III winner who produced Irish stakes winner Tomahawk.

The sale resumes at 10 a.m. (ET) Tuesday.

Top Prices ($1 Million or Above)

Price -- Hip No. -- Description -- Consignor -- Buyer

$3,100,000 -- 136 -- Bay ridgling, by A. P. Indy-Sahara Gold -- Lane's End, Agent for Stonerside Stables -- John Ferguson

$2,800,000 -- 241 -- Bay colt, by Unbridled's Song-Cruising Haven -- Paramount Sales -- D. L. O'Byrne

$1,700,000 -- 187 -- Bay filly, by Storm Cat-Warm Mood--Lane's End, Agent--John Ferguson

$1,500,000 -- 39 -- Dark bay/brown filly, by Fusaichi Pegasus-Golden Oriole-- Michael C. Byrne, Agent --Skara Glen Stables

$1,300,000 -- 162 -- Bay filly, by Storm Cat-Strategic Maneuver--Eaton Sales, Agent--Reynolds Bell, Jr., Agent

$1,150,000 -- 160 -- Chestnut colt, by Giant's Causeway-Statuette--Dromoland Farm Inc., Agent I--D.L. O'Byrne

$1,100,000 -- 232 -- Bay colt, by Forestry-Christmas in Aiken -- Taylor Made Sales Agency, Agent CCLVIII -- John Ferguson

$1,050,00 -- 180 -- Bay filly, by Giant's Causeway-Touch of Greatness--Three Chimneys Sales, Agent--Reynolds Bell, Jr., Agent

Results, leading buyer, leading consignor, leading sire lists from Keeneland