11/19/2004 12:00AM

Diamond mogul bets on Perfect Soul

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Internationally recognized as a highly successful businessman, Charles Fipke is also a man with amazing luck. He discovered the largest diamond mine in North America and also found the gold mines associated with the Biblically famous Queen of Sheba in Yemen. Now this man of fortune wants to attempt one of the great and elusive feats in Thoroughbred racing. He wants to race a winner of the Belmont Stakes and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

Nor does Fipke propose to buy a winner of these great 12-furlong stakes. Instead, he plans on getting an international star the old-fashioned way: by breeding it himself. As part of this long-term plan, Fipke has just retired his most successful racehorse to date, the Sadler's Wells horse Perfect Soul, to stud at Darby Dan Farm.

"Everything we've done has been planned to get us to this point, from the purchase of the Secretariat mare Ball Chairman to mating her with Sadler's Wells and to standing Perfect Soul at a world-class facility like Darby Dan," Fipke said in a recent interview at the Keeneland November sale in Lexington.

A Grade 1 winner at a mile and a son of the great stallion Sadler's Wells, Perfect Soul is the realization of his breeder's first goal: to breed a Grade 1 winner who has the pedigree that gives him a chance to succeed as a stallion.

Fipke's success with Perfect Soul on the racetrack has led the owner-breeder to the next step in his project, which is to build a broodmare band with a good chance of producing quality racehorses at the classic distances.

"Last year we bought seven mares," Fipke said, "including a Seattle Slew mare for $775,000 and others by Mr. Prospector, Miswaki, Riverman, and Halo that went to Perfect Soul's full brother Not Impossible. This year they are for Perfect Soul."

In all, Fipke spent $2.7 million for broodmares in 2003. And at the recently concluded November breeding stock sales at Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton, Fipke spent more than $3 million to acquire 15 mares. All are intended mates for Perfect Soul.

Last year, Fipke bought the Storm Boot mare Bourbon Belle for $600,000 in foal to Silver Deputy. A multiple graded stakes winner of more than $1.1 million, Bourbon Belle produced a filly early in 2004.

"Since Perfect Soul was not yet at stud," Fipke said, "we sent her to Not Impossible this year."

The mare goes to Darby Dan as part of Perfect Soul's book for 2005.

There she will join a group of broodmares who have been selected purposely for this young stallion. Fipke said: "Most Grade 1 winners don't come from very good race mares. So we're looking for good producing families and well-conformed individuals."

Among the highest-profile mares in the group is Joiski's Star, the dam of the 2004 Breeders' Cup Mile winner, Singletary. Fipke purchased the mare at Fasig-Tipton November for $325,000 in foal to Sultry Song and carrying a full sibling to Singletary. At Keeneland, Fipke's purchases included the Japanese-bred Sunday Silence mare Silence Beauty, who is out of Grade 1 winner Maplejinsky, a Nijinsky half-sister to champion Dayjur. In foal to Tale of the Cat, Silence Beauty brought $525,000.

In all this year, Fipke, through his associate and agent Russ Bennett, purchased four mares at Fasig-Tipton and several others at Keeneland this month, making nearly 30 total purchases (both public and private) over the past two years.

For each of his purchases, Fipke said: "We do a lot of research on every mare. That includes running six-cross pedigrees of the mares, checking the Werk nick ratings on the mares, and looking for outcrosses. We like duplications in the fifth and sixth generations of the mare's pedigrees."

Generating that much research on his potential purchases is a serious undertaking, and Fipke spoke for his team - which includes Bennett, Jack Werk, and Steve Silver - when he said that "we" do our homework.

Fipke himself is also a great student of pedigrees, fascinated by their intricacy and potential. "The latest thing that I've been into," Fipke said, "is Somethingroyal inbreeding through Secretariat, Sir Gaylord, Sir Ivor, and Habitat."

Said Werk: "For instance, when Fipke purchased Eagle Lake, that was a total pedigree selection, although she was a hard-knocking racemare in Texas [who won close to a half-million dollars]. But breeding her to Perfect Soul creates five different sets of superior mares within six generations - Natalma, Kerala, Aspidistra, Exclusive, and Lalun.

"The object is to make Perfect Soul a leading sire. John Phillips and Darby Dan are very enthusiastic about the horse, and how often do you have an owner who'll step up to the bar in supporting his own stallion in this fashion?"

Werk summarized the key to his pedigree assessment of Perfect Soul's chances as a stallion.

"The three best sires in North America today are out of Secretariat mares," he said. "It's incredible that one sire could produce mares who have had this kind of success. When you look at that and then the success of Sadler's Wells as a sire and sire of sires, you can't bet against Chuck Fipke and Perfect Soul. Remember, this is the same guy who left DeBeers in the dust and discovered the largest diamond deposit ever on the North American continent."