02/06/2004 12:00AM

Breeders mourn loss of Nielsen, NYTB president

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New York's breeding industry is still reeling from the sudden death of breeder and owner Jerry Nielsen, who suffered a heart attack on Feb. 2.

Nielsen, 69, was unanimously elected to a second two-year term as president of the New York Thoroughbred Breeders last month.

Dennis Brida, executive director of the NYTB, said Nielsen was a unique individual.

"He always was steady, nothing upset him," Brida said. "He also was one of the kindest people I knew. He never had an ax to grind with anybody. He's going to be sorely missed."

Nielsen and his wife of 44 years, Joanne, owned Sunnyfield Farm in Bedford, N.Y. There the couple bred more than a dozen stakes-winning New York-breds, including Capades, a millionaire and Grade 1 winner.

In 1983, Nielsen purchased Capades's dam, Medal of Valor, for $50,000 from her breeder, King Ranch, before any of her foals had raced. The first foal bred by Nielsen out of Medal of Valor was Capades, whom Nielsen sold for $7,500 as a weanling. Capades, a daughter of Overskate, was New York-bred horse of the year, champion older female, and champion turf female in 1990, as well as champion turf female in 1988 and 1989, and champion 3-year-old filly in 1989.

The Nielsens usually sold their foals but occasionally kept horses to race. One of their best runners in recent years was Along Came Mary, a stakes winner who earned $311,202. Along Came Mary was bought back by the Nielsens when she failed to attain her reserve price of $49,000 at Fasig-Tipton's preferred sale of yearlings at Saratoga in 1999.

Jim Bond, who trained Along Came Mary, said Jerry Nielsen knew how to roll with the punches.

"He understood the business and could take the good news and the bad news," Bond said. "He did quite well with horses he bought back that didn't bring their reserve, like Along Came Mary."

Under the bylaws of the NYTB, Barry R. Ostrager, the vice president, will assume the role of president in the wake of Nielsen's death.

Ostrager, an attorney, is partners with Lou Salerno in Questroyal Stud, which forged a partnership last year with Dutchess Views Farm and Silvernails Farm to open Metropolitan Stud in Pine Plains.

Top New York-bred at OBS sale brings $230,000

Twelve New York-breds sold for a total of $1,197,000 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's selected sale of 2-year-olds in training at Calder Race Course on Tuesday.

The top-selling New York-bred was a son of Abaginone purchased by John Ferguson for $230,000. The colt, who is out of the Silver Ghost mare Silver Chill, is a half-brother to stakes winner Abbys Silverdream. The Abaginone colt, who sold at auction for $8,500 as a weanling and $85,000 as a yearling, was consigned by M & H Training and Sales, agent.

The second-highest price brought by a New York-bred was $220,000, paid by Jay Em Ess Stable for a Distinctive Pro colt. Last year the colt, who is out stakes winner Cherokee Mist, was bought for $55,000 by Crupi's New Castle Farm at Fasig-Tipton's preferred sale of New York-bred yearlings at Saratoga. Crupi's New Castle Farm consigned the colt to the OBS sale.

* Joe and Anne McMahon of McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds will hold a stallion show at their Saratoga Springs farm on Feb. 15. Among the stallions standing at McMahon for the 2004 breeding season are first-year sire Desert Warrior, Regal Classic, Judge T C, and Wheelaway.

* A contest to predict the New York-bred champions for 2003 is under way on the New York breeding and racing program's website, www.nybreds.com. The 10 divisional winners, voted on by the media, will be revealed at an awards dinner in Albany on April. 1. The players who select the most correct winners in the contest will receive two free passes to Saratoga Race Course.