05/01/2003 11:00PM

Condren goes back to the well for sale topper

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"She goes so smooth you could balance a tea cup on her head" is how Bill Condren described the $380,000 sales topper at last week's Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's spring sale of 2-year-olds in training.

He was referring to Wonderful Honor, Hip No. 1056, first foal of a winning half-sister to the Grade 2 stakes winner What a Diplomat. The bay filly was one of four 2-year-olds Condren purchased at the Ocala auction , all from Mike Sherman's Farnsworth Farms. Condren outbid two telephone bidders for the filly, a daughter of Double Honor-T.G. for Wanda, by Fortunate Prospect. Wonderful Honor had worked an effortless three furlongs in 33.60, the fastest at the distance in the under-tack shows.

The other Condren purchases were Hip No. 223 ($95,000), a filly by Grand Slam who worked a quarter in 21.60; Hip No. 300 ($75,000), a colt by Line in the Sand who worked a quarter in 21.80; and Hip No. 620 ($80,000), a colt by Double Honor who breezed three furlongs in 34.

Condren was the leading buyer in the sale with purchases of $630,000.

"I've had luck doing business with Mike Sherman," said Condren. "I bought Suave Prospect from Mike. And he became a graded stakes winner."

Wonderful Honor is going to New York and will be trained by Nick Zito.

The OBS April sale had its usual slant toward appearance and performance. If a decent pedigree was in the mix, the 2-year-old brought twice the pre-sale's estimated price. According to sales director Tom Ventura, 66 percent of the 2-year-olds who breezed a furlong worked in 11 seconds or faster, and 20 percent of those who breezed a quarter worked in 22 or faster.

"I think too many horses are being asked to do too much before they are ready," said Buzz Chace, the ubiquitous sales agent who bought three 2-year-olds for $182,000. "My criteria is conformation and overall appearance. It usually works out, though, that those horses who walk or jog and look good around the shed row are the ones who breeze the best.

"You really don't have to watch a horse that you like breeze, because you can check the videos and look at the horse's action. Most of the time everything goes together. Would it be better for the horses to have an under-tack show that limits the 2-year-olds to open gallops like the Adena Springs Farm sale? I think it would, but don't hold your breath. Speed is what makes the difference between a relatively cheap yearling and an expensive 2-year-old."

The OBS April sale was down a few percentage points in most categories. The median price dipped from $15,000 to $13,000 and the buy-back rate of 28 percent was about the same as last year.

After Condren, Tim Kagel, agent, was the second-biggest buyer with five lots that grossed $297,000. Third was Kaaren J. and M. Hays Biggs, who bought five for $294,000.

Farnsworth Farms topped the leading consignor list with 37 sold for $1,187,000. M and H Thoroughbreds sold 47 for $927,700, and Sez Who Thoroughbred was the third-leading consignor with 51 lots selling for $897,900.

By average price, Florida sires were led by Ocala Stud's Montbrook with nine get selling for an average of $52,444. Halo's Image (Bridlewood Farm) had three sell for an average of $51,000, and Farnsworth Farms Double Honor was third with 13 selling for an average of $49,592.

"It was a good sale without any major surprises," said Ventura. "We didn't hit all last year's numbers, but the buy-back rate tells you that three out of four consignors got the job done and that's about as good as it is going to get in these times."

o There are seven states in the Southeast with eight or more stallions. For the first four months of the year, the leading stallions in those states are as follows: Alabama, Shot Block (Relaunch); Florida, Skip Trial (Bailjumper); Georgia, Level Sands (Storm Cat); Mississippi, Lone Star Bar (Mr. Prospector); North Carolina, Above Normal (Great Above); South Carolina, Miner (Forty Niner); and Tennessee, Car Dealer (Carborundum).