03/15/2007 11:00PM

Adena Springs changes up sale routine

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The Adena Springs Farm's auction of 2-year-olds in training takes place on Monday, March 26, with a 5 p.m. starting time. The sale will be held at Adena Springs's Williston, Fla., farm and training site, approximately 20 miles north of Ocala. The Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. manages the auction, and this year 141 Adena Springs homebreds are cataloged for this sale.

"We have changed the format this year," said Mark Roberts, the general manager of Florida's Adena Springs division. "The 2-year-olds with late foaling dates, May or June, will not breeze. They will gallop. We feel that it does not serve the 2-year-olds or the buyers to have an immature horse race a furlong in 10 and change."

It should be noted that Adena Springs sales, unlike most other 2-year-old sales, do not record individual under-tack times. Horses either breeze - that is, accelerate through the stretch - or gallop.

The facilities at Adena Springs include a dirt track and a turf course seeded with the same strain of grass that is used at Gulfstream Park. The sale 2-year-olds have two breezes, or, as in the case of late foaling 2-year-olds, gallops. They went under tack on the turf this past Tuesday, and they will go on the dirt track at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, March 25. These under-tack shows may be viewed on the websites of OBS (www.obssales.com) and the Adena Springs Farm (www.adenastallions.com).

The message that this is not a sale of homebred culls and problem horses has taken hold, Roberts said.

"This is our sixth consecutive sale," he said, "and these sales have produced 41 black-type horses, 21 stakes winners, and $19 million in earnings. We have a policy, and this policy is to take 'em back with no questions asked."

When asked to elaborate, Roberts said, "If, for whatever reasons, the buyer is unhappy with the horse, the buyer has 48 hours to tell us that he wants out, and that's it - no sale!"

Fifty years ago, when the 2-year-olds in training sales were a novelty rather than the norm, consignors were often the breeders of the 2-year-old sales horses. Pinhooking was rare. This meant the consignor often owned the mare and likely had a foal out of that mare destined for future sales. This prompted consignors to protect their breeding stock by making sure, as best they could, that only the 2-year-olds who were ready would breeze fast. Those sales horses who were not ready to do so were often scratched and sold privately or raced.

Adena Springs faces that issue today.

"When you have the get of a stallion like El Prado, it's not necessary to see how fast they can zip a furlong or a quarter," Roberts said. "You know they are going to be middle-distance horses, so why take unnecessary chances? We either gallop them or slow-breeze them - enough so that buyers can get a good look at their action."

There are four Adena Springs stallions with first crops going to the races in 2007. They are: Greatness (two cataloged to the sale), Macho Uno (13), Milwaukee Brew (20), and Sligo Bay (15).

Roberts said he expects the 2-year-olds by Greatness (by Mr. Prospector) "will be quick." The Macho Uno (Holy Bull) 2-year-olds "are good movers and willing," he said. Milwaukee Brew (Wild Again), predicts Roberts, will be the "surprise of the '07 freshman sires."

"They do everything right," he said.

As for the Irish-bred Sligo Bay (Sadler's Wells), Roberts acknowledges that his pedigree, which includes Saint Ballado, Rahy, and Singspiel, is unlikely to result in early-season precocity. Roberts said he expects Sligo Bay's offspring to come along as "midseason to late-season 2-year-olds."

Early arrivals to Adena Springs on sales day will find country music and a barbecue from 3 p.m. until sales time. There is a charge of $20 for the barbecue, with all proceeds going to the Racetrack Chaplaincy of America and the Florida Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.

The 2006 Adena Springs sale was televised by Horse Racing TV. There are no such plans for this year.