11/12/2004 1:00AM

Custom made for the commercial market

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Cindy Mikell
I'll Get Along, bought for $130,000 in 2001, last week brought the ninth-highest amount paid for a broodmare in North America.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - In a lush market for broodmares that is somewhat overpowering in its strength, the top prices were paid for mares either with outstanding racing credentials or with exceptional produce. And in the year of Smarty Jones, no mare was more sought-after than I'll Get Along, who produced the quick-footed chestnut who came close to winning the Triple Crown.

At the Fasig-Tipton November select sale of breeding stock on Sunday, I'll Get Along was the object of greatest attention, and her price soared to $5 million, the ninth-highest price ever paid for a broodmare in North America. The highest price is $7.1 million for Cash Run, and both Korveya and Miss Oceana brought $7 million.

Gaines-Gentry Bloodstock of Olin Gentry, Gloria Gaines Callen, and Thomas Gaines made the successful bid for I'll Get Along, a daughter of champion sprinter Smile, with John Ferguson, representing Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Bloodstock, the underbidder on the mare.

John Sykes's CloverLeaf II Farm in Florida had purchased I'll Get Along for $130,000 on the advice of farm general manager Brent Fernung at the Keeneland November sale in 2001, and Fernung consigned I'll Get Along for CloverLeaf on Sunday at the Fasig-Tipton sale. A stakes winner at 3 and 4 who raced through age 6, I'll Get Along produced Smarty Jones the year she was sold, and despite not having a runner at the time of sale, the mare brought the highest price of the year for a daughter of Smile.

Now she is the highest-priced daughter of Smile ever.

In terms of commercial appeal, the fact that I'll Get Along was back in foal to Elusive Quality, the sire of Smarty Jones, was the linchpin in a tremendous sale.

Although CloverLeaf had planned on breeding the mare to the farm's stallion Repent in 2004, as soon as Fernung realized that Smarty Jones was an impressive maiden winner and then a stakes winner last year at 2, he changed course with his plans for the mare.

As a result, I'll Get Along was sent back to the sire of Smarty Jones early this year, as it became apparent to the world that their earlier mating had produced a good colt, and the added incentive of purchasing a full sibling to the double classic winner was the final piece of the puzzle that made I'll Get Along the most valuable mare of the year.

She already had the black type from her own racing record and a powerful, athletic physique to match it. A dark bay mare with considerable personality, I'll Get Along is about average in height but much above average in every other respect.

A large-bodied and powerfully made mare, she has exceptional depth and breadth. She has great length through the body and a long, deep, muscular shoulder. Her girth measured slightly more than 80 inches, and her length of hip was very impressive. Both for length of hip and mass of muscle, she would put many stallions to shame.

Jim Squires, breeder of Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos, was visibly impressed with the mare's conformation and presence. Admitting that "I'm not sure I'd have sent her to Elusive Quality myself, because they are both so powerful," Squires called her "big in the same places that Elusive Quality is big, and that mating obviously worked out really well. In putting together a mating, I look for the same profile, the same frame. It doesn't really matter to me if one is as big as the other. If you put an image of her inside an image of Elusive Quality, you'd get a pretty close match, I'd think.

"In truth, I probably wouldn't mate a horse to Elusive Quality that is as big as he is, because you might get something even bigger. If I were mating her, I would take her to an Unbridled or a Cozzene type to mirror that type."

I'll Get Along is the type of mare who produces the type of racehorse who appeals to buyers and breeders.

As further evidence of her continuing market appeal, I'll Get Along's daughter by the top-quality racehorse Formal Gold named Be Happy My Love sold at the Keeneland November sale for $360,000 to ClassicStar LLC on Tuesday. The same organization was also one of the bidders for I'll Get Along and has been one of the most active buying entities over the past couple of years. Brereton Jones consigned Be Happy My Love for his Airdrie Stud and Machmer Hall. The partnership had purchased the mare privately early in the racing career of Smarty Jones.