03/25/2005 1:00AM

Australian auction offers value to Yanks


LEXINGTON, Ky. - They're selling yearlings and broodmares this spring Down Under, and Australia's Inglis auction house is hoping Americans will be on the buyers list.

The Sydney sale company will conduct its flagship Easter yearling sale on Tuesday through Thursday, and its select broodmare sale on April 3-5. And this year, backed by marketing funds from 57 of its regular consignors, Inglis has started a new campaign targeting American buyers. Under the auspices of a joint marketing venture called AusHorse, the sale company has been sending catalogs and travel information to prominent buyers and agents in North America.

Traditionally, the auction house has marketed aggressively in the Pacific Rim nations and recently has seen an upswing in Japanese buying. At last year's Easter sale, Japanese interests bought 14 yearlings for Aus$5 million. (An Australian dollar is worth about 77 cents American.) Those purchasers included trainer Hideyuki Mori, who bought an Aus$1.5 million Sunday Silence-Sonoray colt for first-time buyer Yoshinori Sakae. Needless to say, Inglis would like to see more American buyers play at that level, too.

Inglis's 2005 spring catalogs might aid the effort, because both sales this year feature dispersals from Vinery, which has nurseries in Australia and the United States and regularly shuttles its stallions. Stallion shuttling between the Northern and Southern hemispheres has made Australian pedigrees more familiar to American buyers. Among the stallions represented in the Easter yearling sale are such household names as Danehill, whose final Southern Hemisphere yearlings come under the hammer this season; Fusaichi Pegasus, who has 43 lots in the catalog; More Than Ready, with 8; and Thunder Gulch, with 7.

Prominent Australian-based sires with yearlings on offer include Redoute's Choice (39), Encosta de Lago (39), Octagonal (7), Dehere (13), and Rory's Jester (3).

"We think this market will appeal to Americans because we're in a unique position in Australia," said Reg Inglis, the firm's managing director. "The best sires shuttle here from North America, Europe, and Japan, and they stand together with the good sires already in Australia. We think that makes for a good mix of horses."

With major breeding farms such as Vinery, Coolmore, Arrowfield, and others, Australia has established a reputation as a source of racehorses by familiar sires. But as select bloodstock prices soar in North America and Europe, Australia has an added attraction for U.S. buyers: a favorable exchange rate. Last year's Easter sale posted a sale-record average of Aus$205,102, about $158,000 for U.S. buyers at current exchange rates.

"That's a very good discount, too," Inglis said. "People can buy good horses here a lot cheaper than they can in North America."

That may prove a compelling point for mare buyers, in particular. Broodmares have been an especially hot commodity at American sales in the last few years, and Inglis officials expect that the 87-mare Vinery dispersal in early April may have international drawing power for buyers hoping to pick up producers at a discount.

The Vinery collection includes Australian champion and Danehill daughter Rose of Danehill, in foal to Fusaichi Pegasus, and such Australian Group 1 producers as Beachside, in foal to Red Ransom; New Acquaintance, in foal to More Than Ready; Strike a Rose, also in foal to More Than Ready; and Zacheline, in foal to Anabaa.

Aussies promote code of ethics

The Australian Racing Board has followed the British and American lead in drafting a code of ethics for bloodstock transactions. The racing authority's Bloodstock Sales Task Force has circulated an initial draft that would cover auctions and private sales, as well as sales of stallion shares and seasons.

"The industry has been crying out for reforms of this kind to increase the transparency of auctions and promote confidence in Australian bloodstock sales," task force chair Peter V'Landys said. "This is a great opportunity for the industry to take control of its own destiny and work with authorities to make sales an attractive and secure business environment for both large-scale investors and new owners."

The Australian Racing Board has committed to establish penalties in the nation's Rules of Racing for breaches of its code of ethics.

* Statement, a Grade 2-placed stakes winner, will enter stud at Pyaar Acres in Lexington for a $3,500 fee. The 7-year-old son of Seattle Slew and Grade 3 winner Appealing Missy (by Lypheor) won the 2004 Live the Dream and Wickerr Handicaps at Del Mar; he retires with a record of 32-8-4-4 and $374,068 in earnings.

* The American Association of Equine Practitioners and the Kentucky Horse Park will host "Healthy Horses," a series of one-day health care seminars for horse owners. The series, which begins May 14, will cover such topics as nutrition, reproduction, joint therapies, and more. Pre-registration is $40. For more information, contact Amity Brannock at 859-259-4225 or abrannock@kyhorsepark.com.