01/08/2004 12:00AM

About 200 Franks mares to be sold

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - The estate of John Franks, the prominent Louisiana-based owner and breeder who died Dec. 31 at age 78, announced this week that it would begin reducing Franks's numerous bloodstock holdings in February.

The reduction will begin at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky's winter mixed sale on Feb. 8-9, where John Sikura's Hill 'n' Dale agency will consign about 200 of the Franks broodmares. The estate also plans to sell off some of Franks's 2-year-olds, yearlings, and racing stock in the months to come, and Sikura will oversee that as well.

But this doesn't mean an end to the Franks operation. Sikura said he is focused on "maximizing the value of the remaining broodmares," which means breeding the best Franks mares to upscale commercial stallions in Kentucky.

Franks, a four-time Eclipse Award winner as North America's leading owner, left more than 300 broodmares and about 200 horses of other ages, including everything from yearlings to horses in training. His widow, Alta, has said she plans to continue her late husband's successful racing and breeding program, but she will trim it substantially to what she called "manageable numbers."

In a statement released Wednesday, Alta Franks said: "It was the intention of my husband to reduce his horse population to manageable numbers while continuing to succeed both on the racetrack and as a breeder. We are committed to operating a most successful racing and breeding program while keeping manageable constraints on our numbers."

The February broodmare consignment will feature a pair of multiple graded stakes winners, Erica's Dream and Wood So. Erica's Dream, a 16-year-old daughter of Two's a Plenty and Lady's Answer (Northern Answer), is a full sister to Twosies Answer, dam of Franks's 1998 champion juvenile, Answer Lively. She is a multiple Grade 3 winner with more than $640,000 in earnings. Wood So, winner of the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap, is a 17-year-old Baederwood mare out of Impudence (Bold Monarch). She is the dam of 2000 stakes winner Allwood.

"We're approaching the reduction systematically," Sikura said, adding that he expected to make an announcement regarding sale plans for the 2-year-olds soon. "By the end of next breeding season, we plan to have accomplished a number of tasks, including a significant reduction in the number of horses and maximizing the value of the remaining mares."

Franks lived in Louisiana, but the hub of his enormous operation was at Franks Farm Southland Division in Ocala, Fla. The farm stands Gold Alert, Kissin Kris, Littlebitlively, Lost Soldier, Native Regent, and Precocity.

Sikura said he doesn't foresee any major changes in the stallion roster, at least through the 2004 breeding season.

"There will be more than 100 mares remaining after this reduction," he said, "and some of them will be bred to the Franks Farm stallions. The plan also calls for sending mares from the best Franks female families, and significant racemares, to Kentucky to be covered by the most commercially viable horses.

"We want to maximize the value of every mare owned by Mrs. Franks, so that if she decides to sell those mares at auction, they will bring a significant amount of money," he said. "If she decides to keep them and raise the yearlings, then those horses will also have strong commercial value. The idea is to give Mrs. Franks as many options as possible."

Auction, other events scheduled in Virginia

The Virginia Thoroughbred Association will conduct a stallion-season auction Jan. 27-28. Bidding will take place by telephone from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern on each day. At the close of bidding at 8 p.m. on Jan. 28, the top three bidders on each season will be allowed to continue bidding against each other on Jan. 29. For more information, including a list of available stallions, contact the VTA at its website, www.vabred.org, or by phone at (540) 347-4313.

* On Jan. 18, Blue Ridge Farm in Upperville and Legacy Farm in Bluemont will hold stallion shows. Legacy Farm, which is introducing Bop to the Virginia market for the first time in 2004, will show the horse starting at 11 a.m. Blue Ridge Farm, which stands Black Tie Affair this year, will offer public viewings of that stallion starting at 1 p.m.

* On Jan. 21 at 6:30 p.m., the VTA will hold a seminar with 2003 Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Barclay Tagg and the nation's leading trainer by wins last year, Scott Lake, at Charles Town Racetrack's top-floor dining room. The seminar is open to all interested parties. The $50 tickets include a buffet dinner.

Injury won't stop Broad Brush's season

Popular Gainesway stallion Broad Brush, who had surgery in September to fuse the joint in his left front fetlock, has recovered from that procedure and will stand in 2004 for $100,000, the farm announced. The fee is the same as in 2003.

The 21-year-old Ack Ack horse, sire of 2002 champion 3-year-old filly Farda Amiga and 1994 Breeders' Cup Classic winner Concern, is on a normal turnout schedule at Gainesway in Lexington.