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Keeneland Sale Called a Success

July 23, 1998

It’s green again in the land of bluegrass.

That’s American-money green _ and there was enough thrown around at this week’s Keeneland July Select Yearling Sale to cover a good-sized pasture.

It’s not at the mutual windows, but at certain yearling sales _ the Keeneland July sale in particular _ that the real high rollers play, and the stakes were high this week in Lexington, Ky.

``We’re absolutely ecstatic,″ said Rogers Beasley, Keeneland sales director.

In this instance, that might be an understatement. The sale was a throwback to the 1980s when Robert Sangster of Britain and his colleagues got into bidding wars with the Maktoum brothers of Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

This week’s sale topper, a bay Mr. Prospector colt out of Angel Fever, went for $4 million, making him the highest-priced yearling since Seattle Dancer was sold for $13.1 million in 1985. A total of 149 yearlings, all but five of them U.S.-breds, sold in three sessions for an average price of $482,765, the highest since the 1985 average of $537,383. It was a 35 percent increase over last year when 175 yearlings averaged $357,514.

While the $4 million yearling was bought by Fusao Sekiguchi of Japan, this year’s Mr. Big Spender was Satish Sanan, a 50-year-old native of India and a Florida-based businessman. He bought yearlings for $13 million for Padua Stables in Ocala, Fla., which he formed last July. Six of his buys were among the 15 yearlings priced at $1 million or more.

Sanan paid $2.2 million for the second highest-priced yearling, a colt by Pleasant Colony-Never Knock, and announced, ``You mark my word, this is a Triple Crown winner.″ Pleasant Colony won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, but finished third in the Belmont Stakes in 1981.

Hope springs eternal, but big bucks don’t guarantee Triple Crown winners or even success on the race track or in the breeding shed.

The last three Triple Crown winners were homebreds Secretariat (1973) and Affirmed (1978) and Seattle Slew (1977), a $17,500 Fasig-Tipton yearling.

Snaafi Dancer, sold for $10.2 million in 1983, making him the second highest-priced yearling in Keeneland history, never started in a race.

At stud, Snaafi Dancer sired four foals in two crops and his estimated revenue as a stallion was $6,000, according to a chart of Keeneland July Sale toppers 1966-1995 published in a recent edition of The Blood-Horse magazine.

The Blood-Horse chart shows that $13.1 million Seattle Dancer posted two wins, a second and third in five career starts for earnings of $152,113, but his estimated revenue as a stallion was $5 million, and there have been 29 stakes winners among his 457 offspring.

Canadian Bound, the 1976 sales topper, a $1.5 million son of Secretariat, had one third and earned $4,700 in four career starts, while at stud he produced no stakes winners, stood for a high price of $2,000 and had estimated revenue of $150,000 as a stallion.

There, of course, are numerous success stories on the Blood-Horse chart.

A.P. Indy, the 1990 sales topper at $2.9 million and the 1992 Horse of the Year, already has sired 14 stakes winners, stands for $75,000 and produced an estimated $10 million as a stallion. Mr. Prospector, sire of this year’s sale topper, produced 159 stakes winners, stood for a high of $300,000 in 1986 and had estimated revenue of $160 million as stallion.

``To play at the top level, you’ve got to spend some money,″ Sanan said.

But, as everybody in the bloodstock game knows, blue blood and green money don’t always combine for success.

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