Reality Returns at Keeneland; Average Up 17.8%

One day after single-session records for a Keeneland fall yearling sale, the auction in Lexington, Ky. continued Wednesday with prices that were more realistic than the previous day's gargantuan numbers.

Top price of $850,000 was paid by John C. Oxley for a Saint Ballado colt produced from the unraced Proud Truth mare Sunyata. The colt consigned by the Taylor Made Sales Agency descends from a solid female family that includes champion grass mare Soaring Softly, grade I winner Plenty of Grace, Canadian champion Wavering Girl and the grade II winners and sires Parade Ground and Tricky Creek. Not long after Oxley's purchase, Flame Thrower, a son of Saint Ballado, remained undefeated in three career starts when he won the Del Mar Futurity (gr. II).

"We thought he was very good looking and had all the right parts," said Oxley, who campaigns champion Beautiful Pleasure. "He has a very strong pedigree both on top and bottom and had the looks to go along with it. When you get all the ingredients in one horse today, you are going to have to pay for it. That's seems to be the way it is these days. He's the kind of horse that we're looking to buy. We want to broaden out and get both colts and fillies that can run. We're looking to compete at the very top end of the game and you have to spend some money to get horses that can do that. We tried to buy some of the others the first two days of the sale, but we weren't able to get them. I think this guy is as good as any of them that we were trying to buy earlier. He fits the bill for what we were looking for."

John Ferguson, representing Shiekh Mohammed in Tuesday's bidding wars for the more selected yearlings, was active again Wednesday, going to $700,000 to acquire a Gulch colt from Taylor Made's consignment. The bay colt was produced from the graded stakes-placed Bluebird mare Beating the Buzz.

Keeneland reported 273 yearlings grossed $31,700,500 Wednesday, with the $116,119 average price representing a 17.8% increase over the $98,579 average during the same session one year ago when 284 horses grossed $27,996,500. The session median of $85,000 was up 25.9% over the $67,500 third session median in 1999.

After three sessions, Keeneland has sold 716 horses for a total $193,842,500. The cumulative average price of $270,730 is up 37.3% over the $197,199 average for the first three days of the 1999 sale when 755 horses grossed $148,885,500. The cumulative median of $140,000 is well above the $110,000 median for the same period one year ago.

With purchases totaling $30.25 million, Ferguson is by far the leading buyer for the entire sale, followed by Demi O'Byrne's $18.22 million total.