08/26/2005 12:00AM

Deal in works for sale of Trebek's Creston Farm

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Dwain Davis, an investment banker from Paso Robles, Calif., and his family are in the process of buying Alex Trebek's Creston Farm in Creston, Calif., a deal that should be completed by the first week of October, Davis said Friday.

Davis said negotiations began earlier this year, when his family began exploring ways to invest in Thoroughbred racing. Creston Farm has been on the market for several months.

"We thought this was a good time to take a look at the market," Davis said of Thoroughbred racing. "We were pretty aggressive about it."

Davis is joined on the purchase by his brother, Tyson, mother, Bobbie Kay, and uncle Jan. The family has hired former trainer Mike Orman to manage the 720-acre farm. Orman was at Del Mar this week, discussing the Davis family's plans with horsemen.

Davis said he has been involved in investment banking, private equity, and leveraged buyouts in San Francisco, New York, and London in recent years. He returned to California two years ago.

Describing his age as "not that old," Davis said the family has had horses throughout his life, and that the family owns an avocado farm and other property in central California.

"We haven't been in the horse business before, but my family has been in the agricultural business for three generations," Davis said.

Trebek, the host of the popular television game show "Jeopardy!," has owned Creston Farms since the late 1990's. He campaigned the stakes winner Reba's Gold.

The farm has been renamed Windfall Farms. New stallions will be added before the 2006 breeding season, Davis said. He said negotiations regarding the stallion roster are underway.

In 2005, Creston Farms stood the stallions Anziyan, Iron Cat, Reba's Gold, Siberian Summer, and Worldly Manner. Trebek owned a controlling interest in some of those stallions, while others stood on behalf of clients.

The Davis family does not have any Thoroughbred holdings, but Dwain Davis said he expects that to change in coming months. "We'll step in with five or 10 horses at a time," he said.

Orman said the Davis family has committed to renovate the farm's training track as well as enhancing its status as a lay-up facility.

"He said, 'Let's go one step at a time,' " Orman said. "The first thing he said to me is, 'My number one concern is the animals.' "

Orman said the state badly needs lay-up facilities for racehorses in need of breaks. "There is hardly anyplace to send your horses to," Orman said. "It's a real opportunity."

Ican'tgoforthat euthanized

Ican'tgoforthat, a multiple stakes winner who earned $472,484, was euthanized earlier this month from complications of founder, trainer Steve Knapp said.

Ican'tgoforthat suffered sesamoid injuries to her left foreleg last November and underwent surgery late last year. Knapp said the mare was underweight when the decision was made to put her down. She was insured, he said.

"They tried to save her life," Knapp said.

Best as a sprinter, the California-bred Ican'tgo-forthat won 7 of 35 starts. Her most notable win came in the Grade 3 Monrovia Handicap at Santa Anita in 2003.

Large CTBA catalog likely to stick

A large catalog is likely to become a permanent fixture at the California Thoroughbred Breeders Associa-tion's Northern California yearling sale after increases in gross and average earlier this month.

The Aug. 16 sale, held in Pleasanton, had an average price of $7,582, a gain of 10 percent over the inaugural sale in 2004. Overall, 164 horses were sold, compared to 130 in 2004.

"We expanded the catalog and offered nearly the maximum number of horses that we had stalls for," said CTBA general manager Doug Burge. "The goal of the sale is to provide a credible marketplace for breeders in northern California, and I think we accomplished that."