08/09/2007 11:00PM

Gainesway spreads the $2.2M around


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Gainesway Farm's sale-topping Mr. Greeley colt, which brought $2.2 million at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale, was a big win for the farm, although Gainesway didn't breed him.

A group of managers from Gainesway, Graham Beck's Lexington nursery, initially bought half of the big chestnut from his breeders, Rob Whiteley's Liberation Farm and Chris and Cathy Elia. But it didn't take long for them to spot the colt's developing potential as an auction-ring home run, and they went back and bought the breeders out.

"I first saw the horse about five months ago," said Brian Graves, Gainesway's director of public sales. "I liked pretty much everything about him. We made an arrangement with the breeders that a Gainesway partnership would buy half of him, and we'd try to spotlight him in a select sale."

The Gainesway partnership, which declined to disclose the colt's purchase price, included president Antony Beck, Graves, general manager Neil Howard, and director of sales Michael Hernon.

"Two or three months later, we arranged to buy the rest of the horse," said Graves, 32. "He was developing really, really quickly, and he matured into an awesome horse. We brought him here, and it worked out better than we could have expected."

The managers syndicated the rest of the horse among their colleagues at Gainesway, "everyone from the owner of Gainesway Farm to grooms in our barn to me and my assistant yearling manager," Graves said.

Whiteley, of Liberation Farm, also attended the Saratoga select sale and said he and his partners have no regrets about cashing out of the Mr. Greeley colt before he made his millions.

"We have the young mare, Win My Heart, who is lovely," Whiteley said, referring to the colt's dam, a 6-year-old King of Kings mare from the family of Grade 1 winner Raging Fever and Grade 1-placed Stormin Fever. "And we have a Roman Ruler colt out of her who is fabulous. We decided to take the cash flow."

New approach by Joneses

The auction's only other million-dollar horse was a $1.05 million son of Unbridled's Song and champion Riboletta that Aaron and Marie Jones sold to Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum.

The decision to sell the colt rather than keep him came down to Marie Jones, who is taking a greater role in the couple's breeding operation, based at Taylor Made Farm in Nicholasville, Ky.

"Mr. Jones has always been the high-end gambler," said Frank Taylor, who oversees the Jones's 23 mares at Taylor Made. "He'll take the big shot and spend $2 million, $3 million, whatever it takes for a colt and hope it hits. That has worked for us - we came up with Forestry and Forest Danger. We've come up with a lot of horses who have hit or come close."

By contrast, said Taylor, Marie Jones "wants to go a more conservative route, so all their yearlings are for sale. If they go to the sale and one doesn't bring as much as they think it's worth, they'll race it. She's going to focus more on the commercial part of it and managing the stallions she already has, to promote them, and probably race some, but not as much as Mr. Jones has."

Cash Asmussen a rookie as Spa consignor

French champion jockey Cash Asmussen retired from the saddle in 2001. But he is still heavily involved in the Thoroughbred business, now as a breeder and seller. For the Saratoga select sale, he was overseeing a one-horse consignment: a More Than Ready half-brother to Grade 2 winner Batroyale. The dark bay son of Royal Merger sold at Monday's opening session for $100,000 to reseller Murray Smith.

"We grew up doing it all," Asmussen said of his transition from French racing back to the family's operation in Laredo, Tex. "When I was riding I'd come back in the wintertime and spend time at the training center with my family. So I spent about eighth months a year in Europe riding and about four months back here with the breeding and the training and the purchasing."

But this was Asmussen's first trip to the Spa as a consignor.

"We needed to come up here and test the waters," he explained. "We have a few nice yearlings to sell up here. We have a few More Than Readys and didn't want to have them all in the same place. This was a good place to bring one. More Than Ready really shined up here in New York, and a More Than Ready colt won the Sanford up here the other week."

Asmussen's main discovery at the Saratoga sale: If you've got a good horse at the Spa, the buyers will find him.

"If he's on everybody's shortlist, even if they put him three miles down the road and off the sales grounds, he still won't be cheap," Asmussen said. "If they think he can run, you can't hide him."

Sangster heirs tell of dispersal

Heirs of the late Robert Sangster, a dominant figure in international breeding, racing and sales as a Coolmore Stud associate in the 1980s, have announced plans to sell the family's breeding stock. Northern Hemisphere breeding stock is to be sold in English, Irish, and North American sales by the end of the year, while Southern Hemisphere stock will sell at auctions in that hemisphere in the first six months of 2008.

Racehorses in training will continue to run in the family's blue, green, and white colors. The family will retain their English training center at Manton in Wiltshire, and sons Ben and Adam will expand their own bloodstock holdings in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, respectively. Robert Sangster died in 2004, and the family owns about 250 horses worldwide.