Anne M. Eberhardt

Swiss Lake Tops Wednesday Sale Session; Average Up 61%

Swiss Lake, a stakes-winning daughter of Indian Ridge, brought $500,000 late Wednesday afternoon during the third session of the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale in Lexington.

Bloodstock agents Lincoln Collins and Luke Lillingston purchased the 5-year-old broodmare prospect for a European client they declined to name. She will be sent to either England or Ireland.

"She had very high class speed, and she will be bred to a very high class speed horse," Collins said. "The gentleman who bought her has some very, very good mares that are sort of middle distance horses and he was looking for something to put some speed into his broodmare band."

Said Collins of the price: "It was plenty of money. Based on our experience here, if you want the quality, you have to pay up for it. The gentleman we bought her for bought her as a long-term proposition."

Rick Trontz' Hopewell Farm consigned Swiss Lake, who was purchased for $320,000 by The Thoroughbred Corp. at the 2000 Keeneland July yearling select sale. Produced from the stakes-placed Petong mare Blue Iris, Swiss Lake captured the St. Hugh's Stakes in England and finished second in the Polypipe Flying Childers Stakes (Eng-II) in 2001. She also won the 2002 E.B.F. Landsdown Stakes in England.

"For the right product the market is very strong," Collins said. "I think the yearling market is not as strong as it was in November, but for the right mares, it's stronger here than it was in November. There's a big demand for nice mares, and for the Europeans, the exchange rate is so good."

Shopping for another client, Collins and Lillingston were the underbidders earlier in the day to English bloodstock agent Anthony Stroud and North Cliff Farm owner David Dobson on the $425,000 broodmare prospect Opera Aida (by Sadler's Wells). North Cliff Farm in located in Virginia.

"I didn't think it was going to be as strong as that to be perfectly honest with you," said Stroud of the price. "We were fully extended. The market is extremely strong. She (Opera Aida) has a wonderful pedigree."

Said Stroud of his client: "He's just gotten into the business. He's a wonderful man, and he has a lovely farm."

Opera Aida, 5-year-old who failed to win her only race, was produced from English group III winner State Crystal (by High Estate), a half-sister to English group I winner Crystal Music (by Nureyev). Rick Trontz' Hopewell Farm consigned Opera Aida to Keeneland as agent. The Thoroughbred Corp., owned by the late Prince Ahmed Salman, purchased Opera Aida for 280,000 guineas at the 2000 Tattersalls Houghton yearling sale in England.

Interestingly, Stroud bought Opera Aida's full sister, True Crystal, for 675,000 guineas at the 2000 Tattersalls December sale. True Crystal was three years old at the time.

Keeneland sold 249 horses Wednesday for $7,171,400, an average of $28,801 and a median of $11,000. The average represented a 61% gain over the average price of $17,859 during the corresponding session a year ago when 250 horses brought $4,464,800, with a median price of $9,750.

Through three days of the five-day auction, 740 horses have been sold for $42,545,600, an average of $57,494 and a median of $25,000. At this point in the sale last year, 704 horses had been sold for $26,381,500. The average was $37,474 and the median was $20,000.

Results from Keeneland--Session 3, Wednesday, Jan. 14