07/04/2008 12:00AM

Changing of the guard at Darby Dan


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Wayne Sweezey, longtime managing partner of Darby Dan with John Phillips, left the historic Lexington stud farm on June 30 to pursue other interests, according to a farm release.

In the early 1990s, Sweezey joined with Phillips as a managing partner in the farm, founded by Phillips's grandfather, John W. Galbreath, in 1949. Together, they developed the once-private enterprise into a commercial one, and the farm enjoyed success with such runners as the champion turf mare of 1999, Soaring Softly, and Grade 1 winner Wonder Again. The farm currently stands Aldebaran, Suave, Perfect Soul, Sun King, Saarland, and Repriced.

In the farm statement, Phillips said that Kip Elser will serve as interim sales director for Darby Dan and that Nate Heiple, formerly Darby Dan's assistant farm manager and broodmare manager, would take over as farm manager for Darby Dan's main division. Elser is well known throughout the breeding and sales industry as the owner of Kirkwood Stable, a prominent yearling-to-juvenile pinhooking and yearling-breaking operation that sells horses both in the United States and in the United Kingdom.

"Kip is a well-known, highly respected, and experienced horseman who has purchased, prepped, and consigned thousands of horses throughout his distinguished career," Phillips said in a statement. "We are thrilled to be formally associated with Kip."

Elser will continue Kirkwood Stable's breaking and sales programs in addition to his new duties with Darby Dan.

Elser called his position at Darby Dan "a comfortable fit" and said, "I have worked with Darby Dan in various capacities for nearly two decades. . . . Darby Dan has a great team in place, and I look forward to being a part of it."

The new farm manager, Heiple, has been with Darby Dan since 2004.

Sweezey could not be reached for comment on his plans.

Fasig-Tipton Saratoga catalog out

Catalogs for Fasig-Tipton's Aug. 4-5 Saratoga select yearling sale are in the mail and also available online at , and company executives are hoping for good returns at the auction despite concerns over the economy.

The 195-horse catalog is down 9 percent in numbers, but Fasig-Tipton president Walt Robertson points out that the figures are roughly steady with the auction's longer-term trend.

"It's pretty similar to where we've been in the last 10 years," he said. "It's a little less than last year, a little more than in 2006.

"We feel good about the horses we've got and are looking forward to good things," he added. "We feel pretty good about that part of the market. It seems like from the 2-year-old season that we've had a good market from about $200,000 to $800,000. Other segments of the market look a little tougher."

That bodes well for the select sessions, but the stagnant general economy could dampen business at Fasig-Tipton's other Saratoga auctions, the Aug. 9-10 preferred sale and the Aug. 12 open sale.

Tattersalls to offer 915

In England, the Tattersalls auction company has cataloged 915 horses for its July sale, which will take place in Newmarket this Tuesday through Friday. That catalog also is available online at .

The sale will consist of broodmares, horses in training, and yearlings. Among highlights in the July sale catalog are Group 2 winner Conquest, a gelding by Invincible Spirit who will sell as a horse in training, and Looker, a 5-year-old Barathea half-sister to recent Epsom Oaks winner Look Here, selling as a broodmare in foal to Multiplex.

Edmond Mahony, chairman of Tattersalls, also spotlighted July graduates' success in America as a potential lure to U.S. buyers. Rebellion, winner of the Grade 2 Commonwealth Stakes and Grade 3 Ack Ack Handicap this year, and Monzante, who was beaten by a neck in the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Memorial on June 7, went through the Tattersalls July sale ring in 2006 and 2007, respectively.