10/19/2008 11:00PM

F-T yearling auction off to a modest start

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Facing an uncertain economic climate, Fasig-Tipton Kentucky's October yearling sale opened Monday with a larger catalog and a pair of early six-figure sales. But by late afternoon, the first of three sessions looked likely to have more modest achievements in 2008 than in 2007.

The 2007 auction enjoyed an exceptional start with a $320,000 session-topping Empire Maker colt, double-digit gains, and a low 18 percent buyback rate. In a year that has seen a steep decline both in the general economy and at Thoroughbred yearling sales, Monday's 2008 launch was more subdued, though by 5 p.m. a pair of yearlings had brought $100,000 or more. The session-leader at that time was Hip No. 197, a $115,000 Grand Slam filly out of Pout, by Deputy Minister. Sunrise Stables South purchased the dark bay or brown filly from the Gainesway agency. The filly is from the family of graded-placed stakes winner Bedroom Blues and Grade 1-placed Past the Point.

Earlier in the session, Patrice Miller paid $100,000 on behalf of Darkside Racing to acquire Hip No. 37, a chestnut Forest Wildcat colt out of Mazel Tov Betty, by Mazel Trick. Baccari Bloodstock agency consigned the colt, whose dam is a half-sister to the Grade 3-placed stakes winners Somethinaboutbetty and Petunia.

With a little less than 100 horses left in the day's catalog, through Hip No. 294 at 5 p.m., the sale had seen 235 yearlings go through the ring after 59 withdrawals. Ninety-four yearlings by that point were reported as not sold, for a buyback rate of 40 percent at that hour.

The auction was to continue through Wednesday at Fasig-Tipton's Newtown paddocks in Lexington.

Princess Rooney's ashes to Horse Park

The ashes of champion and Hall of Famer Princess Rooney, who died on Oct. 7 at age 28, will be interred at the Kentucky Horse Park, the park announced Monday.

The specifics of Princess Rooney's memorial have yet to be determined, but her ashes will rest near the graves of two other well-known racemares, France's four-time champion and 1974 Horse of the Year Allez France and Grade 1-winning millionaire Sefa's Beauty.

Princess Rooney won the inaugural Breeders' Cup Distaff in 1984 and was the first Breeders' Cup winner elected to the Hall of Fame.

Dr. Ben Roach and his son Tom, who owned Parrish Hill Farm in Kentucky, bred Princess Rooney. Racing for Paula Tucker, she went on to win five Grade 1 races and more than $1.3 million in her 17-win career.

Princess Rooney had been pensioned at Gentry Brothers in Kentucky since 2006 and had been diagnosed with equine protozoal myelitis in August.

Elite Squadron to stand at Wintergreen

Grade 2 winner Elite Squadron will join the stallion roster at Wintergreen Stallion Station in Kentucky in 2009.

Now 4, Tom Walters's Officer colt retired after finishing second behind Street Boss in the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap. He will stand for $7,500.

Elite Squadron is out of the Grade 2-placed stakes winner Sweet Mama, by High Brite. He is a half-brother to stakes-placed Darting Dot.

Elite Squadron won the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes this year and the 2007 Tom Ridge Labor Day Stakes. He placed in four graded stakes, including the Triple Bend. He earned $507,059 from 5 wins in 14 starts.

In other stallion news, multiple Grade 1 winner and millionaire Sweet Return will relocate from Signature Stallions to Journeyman Stud for the 2009 season. Both farms are in Florida. Sweet Return, an 8-year-old son of Elmaamul, stood his first season last year at Signature for $7,500; his fee for 2009 will be announced later.

Campaigned by John Brunetti's Red Oak Stable, Sweet Return won seven stakes, including the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby at 3 and the Eddie Read and Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicaps at 5. He is out of the Claude Monet winner Sweet Revival.