10/23/2002 11:00PM

BC Countdown - Juvenile Fillies: Some look like Keeneland bargains

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Bob Baffert, Carl Nafzger, and Larry Jones did not compete for the same horses at the 2001 Keeneland September yearling sale. But on Saturday, four horses those trainers plucked out of that sale 13 months ago will vie for the same prize in the $1 million Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies at Arlington Park.

Santa Catarina ($950,000), Composure ($470,000), Westerly Breeze ($145,000), and Ruby's Reception ($12,000) were all sold within a 10-day period. Buffythecenterfold ($40,000) also went in that sale, though she was later sold privately to her current connections.

The sale was interrupted by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

In fact, Jones believes the uncertainty over the economy in the wake of those attacks was a big reason why he had to shell out only $12,000 to get Ruby's Reception, a daughter of Rubiano out of the A.P. Indy mare Court Reception.

"The 9/11 deal was a major factor," said Jones, who trains Ruby's Reception for the Henderson, Ky., quintet known as Oasis Racing Stable. "Keeneland canceled the sales the next day, and when they did start back everybody was in such turmoil, not knowing what the economy was going to do. Nobody wanted horses in this price range. She should have brought $40,000 or $50,000."

Jones said potential buyers may have shied away from Ruby's Reception because "she definitely was on the small side. . . . We just happened to be at the right place at the right time."

Ruby's Reception brings decent credentials into the race. She won the Ellis Park Debutante by 7 3/4 lengths in August and finished second in both the Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies and Walmac International Alcibiades.

The winner of the Alcibiades was Westerly Breeze, who sold a few days after Ruby's Reception. A daughter of Gone West out of the Cox's Ridge mare On the Brink, Westerly Breeze is related to nine winners, including the multiple graded stakes winning Jacksonport.

Trainer Carl Nafzger, who was actually on vacation when owner A. Stephen Miles purchased the filly, felt Westerly Breeze would have sold for more than $145,000.

"We thought this filly would bring $200,000, $225,000 with her pedigree," Nafzger said. "But, she was small, she's only 15-2 hands. A lot of horses aren't sale yearlings. Sale horses and racehorses are two different items."

Westerly Breeze was consigned by The Thoroughbred Corp. On Thursday. Richard Mulhall, the racing manager for the Thoroughbred Corp, said there was a miscommunication and no reserve was put in for the filly.

"She went through for a lot less than we wanted," said Mulhall, who said the reserve should have been put in at $300,000.

The Thoroughbred Corp. will be represented in the Juvenile Fillies by Atlantic Ocean, a filly they paid $1.9 million for at the 2002 March Barretts sale.

Archie Chase purchased Buffythecenterfold from William T. Young's Overbrook Farm for $40,000. He tried to pinhook the filly at the March 2002 Barretts sale, but he bought her back for $70,000 when she failed to meet her reserve.

Veteran trainer Mel Stute fell in love with Buffythecenterfold after she breezed a furlong in 10.03 seconds, but he thought she was out of his price range. Stute said he normally buys yearlings in the $15,000 to $20,000 range. He was pleasantly surprised when his owner, Allen Brian, agreed to put up $80,000 on this one.

"She's a little crooked in one leg," Stute said. "If you were looking for the perfect horse, she wouldn't be it. A friend of mine is a vet and he turned her down. He didn't tell me why. In my opinion, she worked sensational."

Bob Baffert purchased both Santa Catarina and Composure on behalf of Bob and Beverly Lewis, who owned Serena's Song, one of the top fillies of all time.

"Composure reminded me of Silverbulletday when we saw her," Baffert said, referring to the 1998 Juvenile Fillies winner and two-time champion filly. "I was surprised she only went for that much. She's an absolutely awesome filly. Santa Catarina was by Unbridled and she was a beautiful filly. Really good fillies are hard to find. Bob Lewis doesn't mind spending a lot of money for a really good filly. They're a cash cow."