07/13/2006 11:00PM

First look at offspring of famous young sires

A yearling from the first crop of Empire Maker (above) will be offered in the July sale.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - The new sire showcase at Fasig-Tipton's July select sale of yearlings does more than offer a venue for selling the yearlings from the first or second crop of their sires. It also provides the first look at an elite sampling of the first-crop yearlings by some of the most intriguing and most famous young stallions in the breed.

Among the famed young sires with their first yearlings available at auction are Empire Maker, Vindication, Aldebaran, and Sky Mesa.

The only yearling by Empire Maker in the sale is Hip No. 155, and the dark brown colt is the second foal out of the stakes-winning Storm Cat mare Saturday's Child. Each of the first four dams of this colt is a stakes winner and stakes producer.

Bluewater Sales consigns the colt for Domino Stud, and Bluewater's Meg Levy said that he resembles the Storm Cat side of his heritage.

"He is an average-sized colt and a little different from most of the Empire Makers that I've seen," Levy said. "He looks like he'll come to hand early and have plenty of speed. This horse has the markings of a Storm Cat: white stockings and white on his face. And he looks like he would race naturally from six to nine furlongs. Some of the Empire Makers look later-developing and very classic."

Speed sells yearlings, and one of the expected sources of speed would be a champion sprinter like Aldebaran, who has five yearlings entered in this sale.

John Stuart operates Bluegrass Thoroughbred Services and, as agent for Mueller Farms, is selling Hip No. 141 by Aldebaran. Stuart said that the attractive bay is "a real nice, forward filly."

"This is one of the strongest fillies I've the opportunity to sell this year," Stuart said. "She is medium size, correct, and well balanced. This filly is going to sell well, and we've got a crackerjack Distorted Humor coming in behind her" out of the same mare.

Hip No. 141 is out of Santa Ynez Stakes winner Queen of Money. The 12-year-old dam has produced two stakes winners and a stakes-placed horse already, the kind of produce record that will yield a premium for a filly with the right physique.

The Aldebaran filly has so many prominent relations already on the catalog page that she is a ready-made broodmare of significant quality, and if she adds further to her dam's produce record with black-type performances of her own, her value will escalate accordingly.

In addition to the young sires in the national spotlight, the new sire showcase also presents some fine specimens by less-recognized young stallions, and frequently among this group there is a sleeper or two who becomes much better recognized in time. Among those in recent years who have started their stud careers with moderate stud fees and have climbed the heights of success are Elusive Quality and Distorted Humor.

Among the interesting yearlings this year are some by Kentucky Derby second Proud Citizen, as well as the good racers Volponi and Flatter.

Taylor Made Sales consigns Hip No. 12, a Proud Citizen yearling colt out of Smarty Jones's half-sister Be Happy My Love. This is the mare's first foal.

"He reminds me of Smarty Jones," Mark Taylor said. "He's pretty correct and has plenty of quality. With the reputation of this family, he should be popular."

Popularity also depends on scarcity, and only a limited supply of the offspring of Breeders' Cup Classic winner Volponi will be available for American buyers, as the horse was sold to Korea after standing his first two seasons at Hopewell Farm.

"Volponi sired only two crops in Kentucky before his sale overseas, and this is the first one," Hopewell owner Rick Trontz said. "We tried to put a good-looking individual in the sale as a representative for Volponi, and this filly has good bone, good balance, and is a great walker. This is the mare's first foal, and the filly really has good size."

The Volponi filly will sell as Hip No. 157.

Kim Nardelli, from Nardelli Sales, said that the Flatter colt they are consigning as Hip No. 49 is a "good-sized colt that we pinhooked, and to me, he looks a lot like his sire."

Flatter is a talented son of A.P. Indy standing at Claiborne Farm and is a full brother to Grade 2 stakes winner Congrats. Both are out of the Mr. Prospector mare Praise, a winning half-sister to four graded-stakes winners.

Horses with their second crop of yearlings are a somewhat different proposition from those with their first yearlings. The difference a year can make is sometimes enormous, both in buyers' perceptions and the sellers' returns.

Those second-crop sires who already have had some notable successes, such as leading freshman sire Officer and champions Johannesburg and Orientate, have bright prospects.

Their sales will be good, and for some of their offspring, the returns may be even higher than those achieved last year.