07/21/2005 11:00PM

High-quality pairing produces $650,000 colt

Edward Whittaker/Racing Post
Giant's Causeway had one yearling at the July sale, which sold for $650K.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - The leading lot at this week's Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July sale of select yearlings was a $650,000 colt by Giant's Causeway, a chestnut son of Storm Cat who stands at Coolmore's Ashford Stud outside Versailles, Ky.

As the sire of two classic winners - Shamardal in the French Derby and Footstepsinthesand in the 2,000 Guineas - and a third classic-placed runner in Europe this year from his first crop, Giant's Causeway couldn't be any hotter right now.

Adding to the demand for offspring by this young sire, the sale leader at Fasig-Tipton was the only yearling by Giant's Causeway in the auction, and he was a handsome individual with scope and quality. Demi O'Byrne, representing Coolmore, liked the colt's extension at a walk and presence in handling the sale's pressure. With the deep pockets of Coolmore behind O'Byrne, it was unlikely that he would be denied in acquiring the promising colt.

This turned out to be most excellent news for the colt's breeder, Marion Montanari, who lives in Ocala, Fla. She consigned the colt to the Fasig-Tipton select sale through Idle Hour Farm.

"Since he was such a good-looking colt and was by Giant's Causeway, I thought he would fit very well in the sale there," said Montanari.

Montanari selected and purchased the colt's mare, City College, at the Keeneland November sale of breeding stock in 2002. At the time, City College, a stakes-placed daughter of Carson City, was carrying her fourth foal on a cover to Breeders' Cup Classic winner Cat Thief. That consideration, however, was relatively unimportant to Montanari.

"I bought her because I thought she was one of the best Carson City mares I'd ever seen," she said. "I try to buy nice-sized mares, and she fit my criteria in that regard, but the reason I bought her was her conformation. She is really lovely, and her front is very attractive and correct."

In addition to good looks and nearly flawless conformation, City College also had a good race record and an outstanding family behind her. A winner at 2 and 3, City College won three races from nine starts, and her most important effort was a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Schuylerville Stakes at Saratoga as a juvenile. She is a half-sister to stakes winner Ancient Times (by Nijinsky), and they are both out of the Secretariat mare Nellie Forbes. A winner in England, Nellie Forbes is a half-sister to Bold Forbes, who won the 1976 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, then was named champion 3-year-old colt.

With pedigree and performance of this quality, Montanari had to pay $165,000 to acquire City College, but she liked the mare so much that she then spent $125,000 to send City College to Giant's Causeway in 2003.

The $650,000 yearling was the result. Already named MacArthur Causeway, he is the fifth foal out of City College, and the colt is from the third crop by European star Giant's Causeway.

Giant's Causeway, a son of Storm Cat out of the graded-stakes-winning Rahy mare Mariah's Storm, now stands for a stud fee of $200,000 live foal.

After producing the colt by Giant's Causeway, City College went to Deputy Minister and produced a filly by that sire in 2005. The mare was bred to Mineshaft this year but did not get in foal.

In 2004, when the first juveniles by Giant's Causeway came to the races, the stallion's stud fee dropped to its lowest level (as often happens) at $75,000, and although Montanari chose to send City College to Deputy Minister, thus getting a filly from that important stallion's last crop, she did not abandon the opportunity to breed to the son of Storm Cat.

"Giant's Causeway is the most exciting horse out there right now," Montanari said.

In 2004, Montanari sent another premium mare to Giant's Causeway to capitalize on the horse's stud fee.

"I have a full sister to Candy Ride, Candy Cane, that I sent to Giant's Causeway, and she has a lovely Giant's Causeway filly at side," she said.

Montanari raises her horses at Marion Hills Farm, a 110-acre farm in Ocala, and has more than two dozen mares.

"I have some really lovely mares who have produced a good group of yearlings," she said. "We have a nice consignment of yearlings going into the OBS sale, including the half-brother to Proud Accolade, whom we also bred."

The half-brother to Proud Accolade, last year's Champagne winner, is by leading Florida stallion Montbrook.