Average, Median Increase At Keeneland October Yearling Sale

Keeneland's October yearling sale was shorter and much smaller than when it was inaugurated a year ago. But the second edition, which was conducted on Tuesday in Central Kentucky, posted higher average and median prices than in 2001.

The 103 horses sold grossed $1,606,400 and averaged $15,596. The median was $6,000. Compared to last year, when there were two days of selling, the number sold and gross revenue plunged by 35.6% and 23.9%, respectively. The average and median rose by 18.2% and 20.0%, respectively. The buy-back rate fell from 38.4% last year to 34.4% this year. The number of horses catalogued plummeted by 72.0%, from 644 to 180.

"I don't think with the October sale that we have expectations," said Keeneland's director of sales Geoffrey Russell. "The October sale is here as a service to the industry. We try to use it as a way to take some pressure off the September sale. As an exercise today, I would say that we were disappointed in the number of the horses, but that was a reflection of the fact that the 'RNA' (buy-back) rate in September was down and (the number of horses bought back that were later sold privately) was up. The horses that we usually get weren't here. So, we'll go back, sit down, analyze and review and make a decision (about the future of the auction) in December."

Asked about the odds that the sale would return next year, Russell replied: "I gave up bookmaking when I was in high school because I lost money."

Four horses sold for $100,000 or more. The most expensive were two Unbridled's Song yearlings that brought $150,000 apiece. One was a filly that was purchased by Roger Devenport, who lives in Central Kentucky. The other was a colt that was bought by Florida pinhooker Becky Thomas.

The filly is out of the 23-year-old winning Secretariat mare Timotara and is a half-sister to Canadian stakes winners Tarage (by Vice Regent) and Chartreuse (by Danzatore). She also is a half-sister to Astaire Step (by Nureyev), the dam of multiple grade I winner Manistique.

Devenport raced Unbridled Elaine, a daughter of Unbridled's Song, who captured the 2001 Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I). She is now in foal to Rahy. Devenport said one of the reasons he was attracted to the $150,000 filly was because she is by Unbridled Elaine's sire.

"I also liked her build," he said. "She has a short back, but she's long underneath. She also has short cannon bones."

Tom Amoss will train the filly, Devenport said.

Dr. and Mrs. R. Smiser West bred the filly in Kentucky and consigned her in the name of their Kentucky-based Waterford Farm. She was bought back by Waterford from this year's Keeneland July yearling sale for $145,000.

"I thought this would be a drastic sale, but it's been wonderful for us," said Kathryn West. She told Devenport that the filly "has the sweetest disposition and never gets upset."

The $150,000 Unbridled's Song colt is out of the 23-year-old stakes-winning Exclusive Native mare Belonging and is a half-brother to grade III winner and successful sire Belong to Me (by Danzig). The colt also is a half-brother to Be a Prospector (by Mr. Prospector), the dam of stakes winner Away (by Dixieland Band.

"He was 'The Horse' here as far as we were concerned," Thomas said. "I didn't want to give that much for him, but I knew what his reserve was. He's a very nice horse with a stallion pedigree."

The colt will be resold as a 2-year-old in training.

Paramount Sales consigned the colt as agent. When offered by the Taylor Made Sales Agency, as agent, at the Keeneland September yearling sale, the colt was bought back for $240,000. He was bred by Joseph and William Stavola in Kentucky.