10/31/2003 12:00AM

Broodmare stars aplenty

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Spain, the all-time leading North American female earner, will sell at Keeneland.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - When the 11-day Keeneland November breeding stock sale opens Monday, it will be bolstered by such mares as Sharp Cat, Spain, Windsharp, and Turko's Turn from the late Prince Ahmed Salman's Thoroughbred Corporation. It should also be bolstered by a good sales climate, as seen by the strong performance of many yearling sales this year.

The Keeneland sale is the world's largest Thoroughbred breeding stock sale. It has cataloged 4,059 lots this year, up 462 from last year, when mare reproductive loss syndrome reduced the annual weanling crop and the number of in-foal mares.

The catalog took a minor hit when William Schettine opted to withdraw his dispersal, which included the dam of Grade 1 winner Take Charge Lady. But the Keeneland November auction traditionally offers a brilliant array of stars, especially among established producers and young racemares headed to the broodmare shed. This year, top billing goes to the draft of mares and weanlings from The Thoroughbred Corp., now overseen by Salman's family.

The Thoroughbred Corp. horses include both mares in foal and well-bred weanlings, and the draft is expected to produce some of the marathon auction's top prices. On offer are Breeders' Cup Distaff winner and all-time leading North American female earner Spain, in foal to Storm Cat; Grade 1 winner Habibti, in foal to Point Given; multiple Grade 1 winner Sharp Cat, in foal to Gone West; Grade 2 winner Saudi Poetry, in foal to Silver Deputy; Drina, who is Spain's dam and carrying a full sibling to Spain; and Point Given's dam, Turko's Turn, carrying a full sibling to Point Given and followed through the ring by a weanling full brother to Point Given.

One of the most noteworthy broodmares in the Thoroughbred Corp. consignment is Canadian champion Windsharp, whose son, Johar, dead-heated with champion High Chaparral in the Breeders' Cup Turf. Windsharp is carrying a full sibling to Johar.

The Thoroughbred market's top two players, Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum and Coolmore Stud boss John Magnier, usually buy such mares at exorbitant prices. If both men are in a spending mood when it comes to broodmares, mares like Windsharp could command enormous prices. Earlier this month, Sheikh Mohammed spent a reported $50 million to acquire the late, great Gerald Leigh's English broodmare band. He also spent lavishly days later at the Tattersalls October yearling sale.

But foreign buyers are not the only ones likely to be bidding large sums. Last year's sale-topper, Bless - Fusaichi Pegasus's $4 million full sister - went to the aggressive domestic partnership ClassicStar. Elizabeth Moran, whose Brushwood Stable is one of the more successful breeding operations in this country, is perennially active at the upper reaches for top mares. Others, such as Richard Santulli of Jayeff B Stables, are also active.

The Thoroughbred Corp. mares have grabbed headlines, but they're not the only high-quality lots on offer at Keeneland November. Lane's End, always a powerful seller, is offering champion-producers Saganeca and Island Jamboree, among others. Taylor Made's deep consignment includes Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Cash Run, Grade 1 winner Golden Apples, and Grade 1 winner Honor in War.

Taylor Made also is handling a bloodstock reduction for Joanne Nor's Norfields operation, which includes She's Got Game, a half-sister to multiple Grade 1 winner Behrens.

Three Chimneys, which is handling some of the Thoroughbred Corp. consignment, offers Grade 1 winner Composure, in foal to A. P. Indy, on behalf of Bob and Beverly Lewis.

Weanlings are also on offer, and both the weanlings and their dams will actually provide hints to the popularity of new stallions. New sires with their first mares in foal or first weanlings this year include Aptitude, Came Home, E Dubai, Galileo, Include, Johannes-burg, King Cugat, Orientate, and Street Cry.

In 2002, the auction came after 30 percent downturns in the select yearling market, and sellers were nervous that those yearling sellers would be less likely to spend good money for broodmares in November. Those fears, however, were allayed when the auction made gains across the board, including a dramatic 40-percent rise in the median price. In the end, the auction sold 2,377 lots for $187,230,000, up 4 percent, while the average rose 10 percent to $78,767 and the median price was $28,000.

It turns out that those bullish buyers were right in their predictions that the 2003 yearling market would improve. The 2003 Keeneland November market was preceded by healthy yearling sales both in the select and regional markets. That's usually a good sign for a strong performance in November, as commercial breeders - flush from strong yearling sales - reinvest some of their profits in mares and weanlings.

Mid-market sellers have more reason than most to be cheerful about November. Even as the top of the select yearling market fell sharply in 2002, mid-level yearling sellers did well, and did well again this year as boutique sales like Fasig-Tipton Saratoga and regional markets like the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's August yearling sale produced financial gains. Sellers from those auctions will likely upgrade their breeding stock at Keeneland November, and that could make the middle tier competitive and healthy.

It probably doesn't hurt that just days before Keeneland's sale opened, the Commerce Department reported economic growth that was stronger than expected. Gross domestic product rose 7.2 percent in the third quarter of the year, and recent tax changes that allow buyers more generous write-offs on some purchases probably won't hurt, either.

The Keeneland November auction will run from Nov. 3-13, with continuous sessions starting daily at 10 a.m.

Because of the late withdrawal of Schettine's dispersal, which already had been cataloged, the auction will begin Monday with Hip No. 76. The Norfields reduction, originally slated with Schettine's on Sunday, will take place on Monday evening, immediately after the regular session ends with Hip No. 374.

Hip numbers to watch

LEXINGTON, Ky. - The 11-session Keeneland November breeding stock sale is filled with lush pedigrees. Here are some to watch in the opening two days, traditionally the most expensive sessions at the world's largest Thoroughbred breeding stock auction.

* Hip No. 90, Miss Sobriety, dam of Grade 1 winner Habibti, in foal to Elusive Quality;

* Hip No. 136, Saganeca, dam of European champions Sagamix and Sagacity, in foal to Storm Cat;

* Hip No. 147, a Storm Cat filly who is the first foal out of Serena's Song's full sister Serena's Tune;

* Hip No. 156, Breeders' Cup Distaff winner and all-time leading female earner Spain, in foal to Storm Cat;

* Hip No. 157, a Storm Cat colt out of Spain;

* Hip No. 182, millionaire mare Vivace, in foal to Tiznow;

* Hip No. 207, Ascend, dam of millionaire Grade 1 winner Colstar, in foal to Point Given;

* Hip No. 211, Balletomane, dam of Breeders' Cup Mile winner Silic;

* Hip No. 228, Bold Burst, dam of Grade 1 winner Trust N Luck, carring a full sibling to that colt;

* Hip No. 229, a Montbrook colt who is a full brother to Grade 1 winner Trust N Luck;

* Hip No. 237, Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Cash Run, in foal to Storm Cat;

* Hip No. 242, Charm a Gendarme, dam of Grade 1 winner Tout Charmant, in foal to Pulpit;

* Hip No. 253, Grade 1 winner Composure, in foal to A. P. Indy;

* Hip No. 268, D'Enough, dam of Grade 1 winner D'Wildcat, in foal to Elusive Quality;

* Hip No. 277, English champion and Grade 1 winner Donna Viloa, in foal to Gone West;

* Hip No. 309, Grade 1-winning millionaire Golden Apples;

* Hip No. 324, Hold to Fashion, dam of Grade 1 winner Peace Rules, in foal to Coastal Storm;

* Hip No. 326, Grade 1-winning colt Honor in War;

* Hip No. 342, Island Jamboree, dam of champion Fiji, in foal to Point Given;

* Hip No. 345, a full brother to multiple Grade 1 winner Exotic Wood;

* Hip No. 353, Canadian champion Lady Shari;

* Hip No. 379, Manduria, dam of Grade 1 winner Mandy's Gold, in foal to Mr. Greeley;

* Hip No. 382, a Tiznow half-brother to successful young sire Valid Expectations and graded stakes-winner Little Sister;

* Hip No. 396, Grade 1 winner Nonsuch Bay;

* Hip No. 406, a Stravinsky half-sister to European champion Golden Opinion;

* Hip No. 412, a Tale of the Cat half-sister to champion juvenile filly Phone Chatter;

* Hip No. 418, Canadian champion Poetically, in foal to A. P. Indy;

* Hip No. 427, a Fusaichi Pegasus half-brother to Grade 1 winner and sire Marquetry;

* Hip No. 432, a Fusaichi Pegasus half-sister to Grade 1 winner and sire Wild Rush;

* Hip No. 446, multiple Grade 1 winner Sharp Cat, in foal to Gone West;

* Hip No. 454, Siberian Fur, dam of Grade 1 winner Spoken Fur, carrying a full sibling to that runner;

* Hip No. 485, Turko's Turn, dam of 2001 Horse of the Year Point Given, carrying a full sibling to him;

* Hip No. 508, Windsharp, dam of Breeders' Cup Turf winner Johar and carrying a full sibling to him;

* Hip No. 533, Banshee Winds, dam of champion Banshee Breeze, in foal to A. P. Indy;

* Hip No. 547, a Cat Thief half-brother to Belmont Stakes winner Commendable;

* Hip No. 548, millionaire Bourbon Belle, in foal to Silver Deputy;

* Hip No. 588, Spain's dam Drina, carrying a full sibling to her;

* Hip No. 613, a Giant's Causeway half-brother to Grade 1 winner Free House;

* Hip No. 619, a Storm Cat half-sister to Grade 1 winner Forest Secrets;

* Hip No. 622, a Silver Deputy half-sister to champion juvenile and Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Gilded Time;

* Hip No. 639, Grade 1 winner Habibti, in foal to Point Given; and

* Hip No. 673, a Storm Cat half-sister to champion sprinter and Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Squirtle Squirt.