03/30/2006 1:00AM

Claiborne buys into First Samurai


Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky., has purchased a minority share of the breeding rights to multiple graded stakes winner First Samurai from owners Bruce Lunsford and Lansdon Robbins and will stand the horse at stud after he retires, Claiborne officials and Robbins said Thursday.

First Samurai, the winner of the Grade 1 Hopeful and Grade 1 Champagne Stakes last year, is a son of Giant's Causeway out of the Dixieland Band mare Freddie Frisson. This year, the 3-year-old colt has finished second in both the Fountain of Youth and Hutcheson Stakes, two Grade 2 prep races for the Kentucky Derby at Gulfstream Park. he was placed first through disqualification in the Fountain of Youth.

Robbins said Thursday that he and Lunsford have retained the majority share of the breeding rights to First Samurai, and that a decision on when to retire the colt will be made at the end of this year.

Bernie Sams, the stallion director at Claiborne, said that the farm was attracted to First Samurai for a wide range of reasons, including the fact that his sire, Giant's Causeway, is a son of leading sire Storm Cat.

Sams said that Seth Hancock, the owner of Claiborne, "has been looking for a Storm Cat stallion for a while, one that fits the criteria he has, which is good-looking, good conformation and pedigree, and a good race record."

Sams and Robbins would not disclose the cost of the transaction, but said that the value of the breeding rights would depend on how First Samurai performs throughout the rest of his career.

First Samurai will be the first descendant of Storm Cat to stand at Claiborne. Storm Cat, a 23-year-old stallion who is a prolific sire of stakes winners and whose foals are highly prized at auction, stands at Overbrook Farm for a fee of $500,000.