01/16/2004 12:00AM

Auction will heat up winter sale

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A busy few days and nights for Florida's Thoroughbred industry start with the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's annual winter mixed sale, Monday through Thursday. The OBS has cataloged 1,090 horses for this sale, with roughly half of them yearlings.

The first book features the consignors' preferred sessions and the Irish Acres Farm reduction consignment. The second book catalogs the open sessions.

Starting time for all four sessions is 11 a.m. Prospective buyers may keep up to date on the "outs" by going to the OBS website (www.obssales.com) for information.

The night before the sale gets rolling, Florida Thoroughbred Charities Inc. will kick off its annual gala with a cocktail party and silent auction Sunday at 6:30 p.m. at Steinbrenner's Ramada Yankee Inn in Ocala. Florida Thoroughbred Charities is the fund-raising arm of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association.

All sorts of prizes and collectibles, from World Series tickets to accommodations and seating at the Indy 500, have been donated for the auction.

Then on Monday evening, following the first session of the winter mixed sale, the charity group will hold its annual live auction of 2004 stallion seasons. These seasons are bought without live-foal guarantees.

Frank Stronach's Adena Springs South has donated its big guns, including a season by Red Bullet, who at $30,000 is Florida's highest-priced stallion. Adena Springs South also has donated seasons by Macho Uno ($15,000), Greatness, Lite the Fuse, Running Stag, and Milwaukee Brew, who stands in Kentucky.

Mike O'Farrell's Ocala Stud has contributed nine stallion seasons, headed by Florida's leading sire of last year, Montbrook, who stands for a $20,000 fee. The other Ocala Stud stallions are Concorde's Tune, Concerto, Drewman, Mecke, Outofthebox, Slew Gin Fizz, Sweetsouthernsaint, and Trippi.

Roy S. Lerman's Lambholm Farm is the donor of Cloud Hopping, Max's Pal, Lido Palace, and newcomer Express Tour, a son of Tour d'Or.

"We got Express Tour in December," Lerman said, "and haven't announced his arrival because he got ill in California and we wanted to give him the time to recover. He's a grand-looking horse in the image of his sire."

Express Tour swept the Florida Stallion Stakes series as a 2-year-old and caught the eye of Darley Stud, which bought him and shipped him to Dubai, where he was prepared for the Kentucky Derby. Express Tour won the UAE Derby prior to returning to the United States, where he finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby.

The Florida-bred Express Tour went on to win the Grade 2 Jerome Handicap and place in the Grade 1 Woodward, earning $567,515 in the United States to go with his $1.2 million won in Dubai.

"There's been no fanfare about his arrival," Lerman said. "As I said, he's been on the road a lot, and we just wanted him to settle in before the announcement. He is going to stand for a $2,500 fee, and plans are to syndicate him at $6,500 per share with some share bonuses to be worked out."

In the evening's biggest allotment of stallion seasons, Jim and Sheila DiMare's Rising Hill Farm is donating at least one season from each of its 12 resident stallions.

One stallion who won't be among the group, however, is Struggler, sire of the Grade 3 Spectacular Bid winner Wynn Dot Comma. The leading 3-year-old sprinter of his year in France, Struggler stood at Devonia Stud for four seasons, moved over to Rising Hill Farm, and then was sold last year to Quarter Horse breeders in Texas.

Wynn Dot Comma is 5 for 6 overall, with his only blemish being a second to the unbeaten Sir Oscar.