07/17/2002 11:00PM

A disease like golfing, says Player

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Among the Keeneland July sale participants this year was golfing legend Gary Player, who sold a Hennessy-Freesia filly to North Hills Management for $325,000 on Tuesday night. Player, the winner of nine major tournaments, keeps his North American broodmares at Darrell and Lendy Brown's Stonereath Farm near Lexington. He also has horses in South Africa.

"This is great excitement," Player said of the sale on Tuesday night. "This is the same as golfing; they're both a disease. In golf, I've got 50 years of practice, and I've been in the horse business since 1964. The conclusion I've reached is that I now know a lot about nothing. You'd better be careful when you think you know anything about either sport, because they'll eat your lunch.

"But I've put a lot of money into this business and it's nice to have some success. I have sons of Nureyev, Mr. Prospector, and Storm Cat who are excelling in South Africa."

Player met Darrell Brown nearly 40 years ago when Brown was a pilot for Arnold Palmer. Player already had Quarter Horses and Standardbreds and quickly became a Thoroughbred fan. Now, when he's not enjoying his own 12,000-acre South African ranch, he calls Stonereath home in Lexington.

"Lexington is my favorite place to come to," Player said. "It's important that people realize what the Keeneland sale does for Lexington. You arrive at the airport and see planes from all over the world.

"I hope they don't start building homes on all the horse ranches. There's so much land here, they don't need to do that. They need to preserve the horse business here."

Cherokee Run filly on top at Fasig-Tipton

As of 5 p.m. Thursday, a $425,000 Cherokee Run filly was the session leader at the second and final day of Fasig-Tipton's July selected yearling sale.

Samantha Siegel signed for the filly, the first foal out of the unraced Deputy Minister mare Ruby Glows. The filly is from the family of Grade 1-placed stakes winner and sire Out of Place. Gainesway, agent, sold the filly.

The Thursday session continued the first day's trend of strength at the top of the market. At the first session Wednesday, there were slight declines in average and median, and the official buyback rate was a high 41 percent, confirming the selective nature that buyers showed at the Keeneland July select sale on Monday and Tuesday. But overall, the session held up well under its record catalog of 600. The Fasig-Tipton opener sold 166 yearlings for $15,803,000, up 33 percent from last year, when 122 sold for $11,883,000. The first session average slipped just 2 percent to $95,199, and median fell 5 percent to $67,500. But the auction still drew favorable comments from consignors relieved that general economic concerns hadn't done heavier damage to buyers' interest in racehorses.

The new-sire showcase comprised most of Wednesday's catalog and featured progeny of first- and second-crop sires. That segment posted gains, selling 137 lots for $13,489,000, up 48 percent from last year on a larger catalog, and average rose by 4 percent to $98,460.

Wednesday's session topper, sold as part of the new-sire portion, was a $535,000 Mazel Trick colt that former Kentucky governor Brereton C. Jones Jr. sold to agent Ben Glass. Glass represented Gary and Mary West in the purchase and was accompanied by trainer Dallas Stewart, who is likely to get the colt after he is broken.

A son is born to Fusaichi Pegasus (and sold)

Lexington-based bloodstock agent Lincoln Collins arrived at the July sales fresh from a trip to Japan, where his client Dick Colton sold the first Fusaichi Pegasus colt offered at public auction. The colt sold for $675,000 at the Japan Racing Horse Association foal sale the week before the Kentucky sales.

The colt is a son of Jeweled Crown and sold through Paca Paca Farm, a Hokkaido farm owned by Harry Sweeney.

"When we discovered that the mare was carrying a colt, we decided, based on our relationship with Harry, to send her to Japan so the foal would be Japanese-bred," Collins said. Only Japanese-bred foals are eligible for the JRHA sale.

"It's a very different sale experience," he added. "The mares and foals only ship on the morning of the sale. They have about 150 horses selling each day. There's a show period before the sale at the Northern Horse Park, where they convert an indoor riding arena into a sale pavilion. The first 75 or so horses are brought out in a group and are shown outside for about 1 1/2 hours, and the people wander around and look at them under the tall pine trees. Then they show the second group, and then the sale begins. You can have horses vetted, but no one seems to."

Part of Idle Hour for sale

Local consignor David Hager has put about 200 acres of his Idle Hour Farm near Lexington on the market. The parcel, located on the corner of Paris Pike and Ferguson Road north of Lexington, is a little less than half of the farm's total acreage.

"I'm just looking to downsize the acreage," Hager said. "That parcel is mainly agricultural acreage, and we've just used it to grow hay. Selling it still leaves me with plenty of acres for raising horses, which is what we're concentrating on."