02/24/2004 12:00AM

$4.5M to see if history repeats itself

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Japanese businessman Fusao Sekiguchi paid a world-record price for Hip No. 229, a son of Fusaichi Pegasus.

MIAMI - Six years ago, a Japanese businessman named Fusao Sekiguchi spent $4 million on a yearling, outbidding Satish Sanan. Two years later, that son of Mr. Prospector, named Fusaichi Pegasus, won the Kentucky Derby.

Sekiguchi and Sanan went toe to toe again in the sales ring on Tuesday, with Sekiguchi spending $4.5 million to outbid Sanan on a son of Fusaichi Pegasus and set a world record at the Fasig-Tipton selected 2-year-olds-in-training sales at Calder Race Course.

Sekiguchi can only hope that next year he will be standing in the Churchill Downs winner's circle again.

"History always repeats itself,'' Sekiguchi said through an interpreter shortly after making the world-record purchase.

The $4.5 million spent on the son of Fusaichi Pegasus out of the mare Hidden Storm established a world record for a 2-year-old-in-training sale. The record was set earlier in the day when John Ferguson, the racing manager for Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin Racing, spent $3.1 million on a gray son of Stephen Got Even. He, too, outbid Sanan, who twice walked out of the sales pavilion exasperated.

Entering the day, the previous mark for a 2-year-old-in-training sales purchase was $2.7 million for a son of Sea of Secrets who sold at the 2003 Barretts March sales in Southern California. That colt, Diamond Fury, is 0 for 4.

The two multimillion-dollar babies highlighted a strong sale Tuesday. Earlier in the day, trainer Nick Zito, on behalf of owner Robert LaPenta, spent $1.05 million on a Storm Cat colt.

As of 6 p.m. Eastern, with about 50 hips left to sell, those were the only three juveniles to sell for seven figures. The highest-priced filly, a daughter of Tale of the Cat, sold for $650,000 to Mike Ryan on behalf of WinStar Farm.

As he was when he came to the Keeneland yearling sales to purchase Fusaichi Pegasus in 1999, Sekiguchi was determined to leave south Florida with his son. With Japanese television crews watching his every move, Sekiguchi, sitting with his trainer, Neil Drysdale, continued to raise the stakes on Sanan.

"We were thinking $4 million, he's worth that much,'' said Sekiguchi, who also spent $825,000 on a Wild Wonder colt. "Hopefully, this will encourage all the other buyers to buy Fusaichi Pegasus progeny.''

Sekiguchi sold a majority interest in Fusaichi Pegasus to Ashford Stud, the North American division of Coolmore, for a record syndication value of about $60 million.

Kirkwood Stables consigned the Fusaichi Pegasus colt. White Horse Stables purchased him for $270,000 at the 2003 Fasig Tipton yearling sales in Saratoga.

The 2-year-old will be sent to Drysdale's barn in Southern California. Drysdale said he saw similarities between this colt and his father.

"For a big horse, he's athletic; he's able to handle the 2-year-old sell very well,'' Drysdale said. "Mr. Sekiguchi fell in love with the horse; he was determined to have him. Unfortunately, there were some other people determined to have him as well.''

When asked how high he would have gone to buy the colt, Sekiguchi said, "limitless.''

"He would have spent $10 million,'' said Sanan, who shook Sekiguchi's hand in front of the Japanese television cameras.

Hours earlier, Sanan was outbid by Ferguson for a colt from the first crop of Stephen Got Even.

Godolphin enjoyed success last year with Ruler's Court, a colt it purchased out of the OBS Calder 2-year-old-in-training sales for $400,000. Ruler's Court won the Norfolk Stakes by 14 lengths last year in what many observes felt was the most impressive performance by a 2-year-old in 2003.

The Stephen Got Even colt was consigned by Niall Brennan, who along with his partner Mike Ryan purchased him for $157,000 out of the 2003 Fasig-Tipton sales at Keeneland.

Ferguson said he met Sheikh Mohammed in England last week and went over videos of all the horses. That video, plus Ferguson's report on the colt's strong workout Sunday, made them go as high as they did.

"It's an awful lot of money to pay for a 2-year-old with that pedigree,'' Ferguson said. "But at the end of the day you'd probably rather have him than 10 others you didn't want as much.''

In addition to the Stephen Got Even colt, Ferguson purchased five other colts and a filly for a total of $6.125 million. Other top sellers included an Unbridled's Song colt, purchased by Ernie Paragallo's Paraneck Stable for $900,000. B. Wayne Hughes spent $800,000 on a half-brother to Grade 1 winners Graeme Hall and Harmony Lodge.