A sluggish market continued Tuesday through the second session of Keeneland's September yearling sale, with fewer than usual horses fetching high prices and another anticipated sale-topper withdrawn from the auction.
For the second straight day, a sheik paid the session's high price for a yearling by leading sire A.P. Indy.
On Tuesday, Sheik Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum's Shadwell Estate spent the session's high of $1.5 million for the bay colt out of Taegu. A day earlier, his brother, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum _ the ruler of Dubai _ spent $3.1 million on a filly, also by A.P. Indy.
Sheikh Hamdan's agent, Rick Nichols, said he liked the pairing with Taegu, who has already produced two winners.
"Just a nice, strong colt, very correct," Nichols said. "He has good bones in him."
With A.P. Indy horses dominating the first two days of the sale, offspring from another top sire, Storm Cat, were somewhat overshadowed. Earlier this year, Storm Cat was pensioned _ or retired from racing, making this one of the last sales his yearlings will appear.
One Storm Cat product _ a chestnut colt by Profit Column _ was expected to be one of the highest sellers in the sale, if not the highest. However, owner Martin Wygod decided to keep the colt rather than sell it as scheduled Tuesday. William Farish, owner of Lane's End Farm, said there was nothing wrong.
"The horse is fine," Farish said. "It hasn't been sold. The owner made a decision to withdraw him. He loves this colt."
As a result, a likely sale topper was taken off the board for the second straight day of the sale. On Monday, the bidding for A.P. Indy colt Vallenzeri reached $7.7 million, but it wasn't enough to reach the reserve price set by owner Michael Paulson. It was the largest amount ever refused for a horse at a Keeneland auction.
Among those sold Tuesday was a half-sister to Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown, which sold for $200,000, and a half-sister to Derby runner-up, Eight Belles, which sold for $320,000. Eight Belles broke down after crossing the finish line at the Derby and was euthanized on the track.
Omar Trevino, who signed the sales slip for the Eight Belles half-sister, said he has big plans for her.
"I love that family," Trevino said. "I'm going to breed out of her for a long time."
Through the first two days _ usually the most lucrative of any sale _ the market was much lower than last year. There were 300 horses sold, compared to 337 through the same period last year. The average price also dipped from $431,386 to $377,857.
Seventeen horses met or exceeded $1 million through the first two sessions, compared to 30 a year ago.
"The world is a lot different than this time last year," said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland's director of sales. "You have credit crunch, lack of easy financing. Those things play into a lack of discretionary income to spend on thoroughbreds."
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