08/02/2007 11:00PM

An elite gathering on both sides of sale ring


LEXINGTON, Ky. - If the weather's hotter than blazes in Kentucky, then it must be time for the Saratoga sale. At least it is the philosophical point of view that the heat drives both man and beast north to New York for an auction of select yearlings at the historic spa.

Both the racing at Saratoga and the quality of yearlings offered there bring in buyers from around the world, with advisers from Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin operation and from Coolmore in Ireland sure to pursue a few super-select offerings and make the competition to purchase them very hot for the American stables looking to acquire premium prospects.

For, as successful and informative as the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July sale of select yearlings can be, the Saratoga auction is the first preview of the very best-bred yearlings, which will continue next month through the select portion of the Keeneland September yearling sale.

At Saratoga, for example, there are four yearlings by the most commercially revered stallion in the world, Storm Cat. One of these is Hip No. 211, a January yearling filly out of Grade 1 winner Flat Fleet Feet who really ought to be named Fleet Cat Feet. A good-looking and strongly made filly, she is agile and well-balanced. Eaton Sales consigns this filly, whose third dam produced champion sprinter Eillo, winner of the inaugural Breeders' Cup Sprint.

In addition to the colt out of Flat Fleet Feet, other yearlings have distinguished dams, such as Grade 1 winner Mossflower (Hip No. 55 by Giant's Causeway), champion Jewel Princess (Hip No. 28 by Giant's Causeway), and multiple Grade 1 winner Shine Again (Hip No. 102 by El Prado).

Another yearling out of an exceptional racemare is Hip No. 86, out of champion older mare Riboletta, winner of five races at the Grade 1 level. This colt is a February foal by the important sire Unbridled's Song and is an outstanding specimen.

He is consigned by Taylor Made Farm for Aaron and Marie Jones. Mark Taylor, of Taylor Made, said: "He's an absolutely gorgeous colt who's hard to fault physically. He looks like a two-turn horse with a lot of speed, and he's been in the top two or three foals on the farm since he was born."

A chestnut with plenty of bone, the Unbridled's Song colt out of Riboletta has great length and poise. He has a very good shoulder and hindquarter, is bigger than average, and is quite good-looking.

Other visually appealing and good-looking lots in the sale include a pair of yearlings by leading sire A.P. Indy, Hip Nos. 79 and 185; a big Mr. Greeley colt in Hip No. 142; and a pair of fillies by the fine sire Gone West. That pair includes Hip No. 22, a pretty chestnut filly out of the stakes-placed Storm Cat mare Home Court, a daughter of champion Jewel Princess.

A further example of a top-notch prospect and highly progressive yearling is Hip No. 48, a dark brown son of champion juvenile Vindication out of the exceptional producer Marital Spook. This strong and lengthy colt is a half-brother to Grade 1 winner Yonaguska and two other stakes winners. He combines the physical qualities of a premium athlete with the confidence of a special horse. Lane's End Farm consigns the colt for breeder Edward Evans.

These impressive young athletes are very good examples of premium racing prospects, and the directors of Fasig-Tipton believe they have the right balance of pedigree and superior physique to bring out serious racing people to buy these outstanding yearlings.

Bill Graves, director of yearling sales for Fasig-Tipton, said that he believed "this group of yearlings, considering both conformation and pedigree, tops last year's group for Saratoga, and they were nice animals, too."

One of those nice animals last year was the sales-topping lot by Empire Maker. In this year's selection of prospective athletes, there are four yearlings by that classic-winning son of Unbridled and the great producer Toussaud.

One of the sire's promising yearlings is Hip No. 158, the third foal out of the high-class racemare Bella Chiarra, by Phone Trick. This colt is typical of the Empire Makers, with good size and scope allied with quality and strength.

Bred and consigned by the Stone Farm of Arthur Hancock, this colt is "a medium-sized and nicely balanced colt," Hancock said. The colt's dam, Grade 2 stakes winner Bella Chiarra "was quite a racemare," said Hancock, "and her 2-year-old, who's by Fusaichi Pegasus, has a lot of speed and looks like a runner."

Yearlings such as these hold the promise of immense success to racing men and women.

In the cool of the evening on Monday and Tuesday, Fasig-Tipton will begin its annual Saratoga sale of yearlings, and among the glittering young animals in the brightly lit auction ring will be a star, perhaps a champion, and half the joy will be in finding it.