04/22/2008 11:00PM

Better Than Honour clear choice

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Better Than Honour, the dam of back-to-back Belmont Stakes winners Jazil and Rags to Riches, is Kentucky's broodmare of the year.

The Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders made the announcement Wednesday, confirming what many had considered a foregone conclusion since last June, when Rags to Riches became the first filly in 102 years to win the Belmont.

With Rags to Riches's victory, Better Than Honour became the first broodmare to produce two consecutive winners of the Belmont Stakes.

Now 12, the Deputy Minister mare Better Than Honour currently is owned by the partnership of Hill 'n' Dale Farms and Southern Equine Stables. Hill 'n' Dale owner John Sikura initially purchased her privately from Waxman, then sold her privately to Stanley and Ira Gumberg's Skara Glen Stables in 2002. Skara Glen bred both Jazil and Rags to Riches, selling them for $725,000 and $1.9 million, respectively.

Skara Glen then sold Better Than Honour in foal to Mineshaft at Keeneland's 2004 November sale, where she brought $2 million from BBA Ireland, representing Coolmore. Her Mineshaft colt sold for $950,000 at Keeneland's September 2006 yearling sale. Named Casino Drive, he won his first start in Japan by more than 11 lengths for owner Hidetoshi Yamamoto.

Sikura, who later said he always had regretted selling the mare, teamed up with Southern Equine principal Mike Moreno in 2006 to buy back Better Than Honour privately. The mare currently has a Giant's Causeway yearling colt and will be bred in 2008 to A.P. Indy.

Compromise on integrity issues

Florida's equine sales interests have joined forces to craft some sale integrity recommendations in the Sunshine State, an important Thoroughbred marketplace.

The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company, Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association, and Thoroughbred owner and buyer Earle Mack presented the joint recommendations to the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services after initially appearing deadlocked over such issues as drug-testing sale horses and ownership and veterinary disclosures.

At a public hearing in Tallahassee on April 7, sale companies and sellers had broadly agreed with a proposed rule written by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services that banned dual agency, required a written bill of sale or auction receipt, and provided a method by which buyers could access veterinary information on sale horses. But Mack had criticized the proposed rule for offering no mandatory disclosure of ownership or veterinary issues, for not addressing the issue of steroids and testing sale horses, and for lacking punitive measures for infractions.

Under the recommendations, Mack, OBS, and the FTBOA call for mandatory disclosure of some procedures, including shockwave therapy and internal blistering, within seven days of a sale; a ban on those practices on sale grounds; a requirement that sellers disclose veterinary information accurately in response to a buyer's inquiry; and an option for sales companies to require specific types of veterinary documentation of sellers participating in the voluntary repository.

The joint recommendations also require that sale companies correct public sale results within 90 days of an auction to show any horses as unsold that previously were reported as sold.

"In this instance, neither side really wanted to compromise, but they both decided that compromise was a small step forward," said attorney Joel Turner, a horse owner and equine law specialist who represents Mack. "Rather than go back to the legislature and go for a more definitive rule, and rather than go back to the rule-making process again next year, I think they agreed that they could make some progress in certain areas and leave it for the future to see whether those changes are effective or more needs to be done.

"This is the first step in a process that is ongoing."

Kerry Flack, who authored the draft rule for the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said she was "thrilled" that horse industry interests had worked together on the recommendations. Flack said the recommendations currently are under review by the state veterinarian, legal counsel, and others. The department is not bound to incorporate any of the recommendations, but Flack said, "I am satisfied with what they did, and I think it was a worthy effort."

Storm Cat colt brings $400,000

Meanwhile, in Ocala, Fla., OBS's spring 2-year-old auction continued Wednesday with a $400,000 Storm Cat colt - the only Storm Cat in the catalog - the early session-leader. John Fort of the public partnership Peachtree Stable made the buy from Stephens Thoroughbreds, which was acting as agent for Vision Sales.

The Storm Cat colt is out of Grade 1 winner Nany's Sweep, the dam of Grade 3 winner She's Indy Money. Vision Sales had purchased him for $200,000 at last year's Keeneland September yearling auction.

A $220,000 Silver Deputy-Kris Star colt that Padua Stables bought from Parrish Farms, agent, was the top-priced horse Tuesday.

Tuesday's session sold 202 juveniles for $6,196,200, up 8 percent from last year's second day, when 210 horses sold. The average price increased by 12 percent to reach $30,674, and median rose 11 percent to hit $21,000. But buybacks also increased slightly, from 24 percent last season to 25 percent in 2008.

The sale was to conclude Thursday.