When the first 100 horses of Tuesday's session of the Keeneland November breeding stock sale produced just three surpassing $500,000, it appeared the active bidding of the previous day had stalled.
As is often the case, however, it only takes a handful of hot commodities to perk up an entire auction pavilion.
Dreamtheimpossible, a 4-year-old daughter of Giant's Causeway, sparked a 40-minute spree during which four horses surpassed $1 million when she sold to Frank Stronach's Adena Springs for $2.55 million — the highest price of the sale thus far.
Five horses broke the million-dollar mark Tuesday, bringing the total for two days to eight and surpassing the total of five from 2009.
Dreamtheimpossible, who is out of 2000 Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Spain and is a half sister to Group III winner Plan, topped them all.
Eric Hamelback, general manager of Adena Springs, outbid Mt. Brilliant's Greg Goodman in a protracted battle to obtain the bay mare, who was sold in foal to Coolmore Ireland stallion Galileo.
"She's a tremendous mare," Hamelback said, "and Spain is obviously one of the best race mares in history. To be in foal to Galileo was a huge plus. She is said to be carrying a colt so we're very excited."
The rush of buying activity could not make up for a general slowdown as overall numbers suffered across-the-board declines following Monday's strong opening session.
A total of 143 horses sold on Tuesday for $31,375,000.
The two-day total of $70,345,000 was down 1.82 percent from 2009 while the average ($215,782) and median ($135,000) were down 11.16 percent and 15.63 percent, respectively.
Last year's session was bolstered by the Overbrook Farm dispersal, though, a key factor that allowed the 2009 second session to have 17 horses sell for $500,000 or more compared with the 12 horses that reached that level Tuesday.
"At this session a year ago we sold 38 horses for nearly $21 million as part of the Overbrook dispersal, which illustrates how difficult it is to compare breeding stock sales," said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland's director of sales. "But people are looking for live female families, and they are willing to give a premium for it."
Minutes after Dreamtheimpossible sold, Elusive Sparkle, a half sister to 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, sold for $1.2 million to Paul Fudge of Australia; Fit Right In, dam of Grade I winner Rightly So, went to Northern Farm for $1.05 million; and the Storm Cat mare Heart Shaped was bought by agent Tom Goff of Blandford Bloodstock for $1.55 million.
Lucky One, dam of this year's Kentucky Oaks winner Blind Luck, later became the fifth seven-figure horse on the day when Japan's Shadai Farm claimed her for $1.85 million.
"The demand has been pretty good but instead of buying five mares, guys are buying one or two," said Reiley McDonald of Eaton Sales, which consigned both Dreamtheimpossible and Heart Shaped. "So they're ... waiting for other mares. But all in all I think (the market) has been as good as or better than we expected."
The sale continues through Saturday.