06/07/2007 11:00PM

Homebreds have held edge in Oaks


Six homebred fillies from some of the top Ontario stables are matched up against five auction purchases in Sunday's $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, the 52nd edition of the premier race for Canadian-foaled 3-year-old fillies.

The Oaks is as much a breeders' race as it is an owners' event, and just once in the last 10 editions - with Kimchi, last year - was the winner plucked out of the sales ring. All but one of the remainder were bred by their owners.

From the last 20 runnings of the Canadian-bred classic, only five were bought at a sale.

The Queen's Plate has seen its fields in recent years filled up with Canadian-breds who have not been in Canada since their birth, and the Oaks may be experiencing a similar shift.

This year's favorite, Street Sounds, was foaled in Ontario and bred by Anderson Farms and Rod Ferguson, but the Street Cry filly has resided in Maryland since being purchased for $400,000 as a yearling in Kentucky.

"Other than some of the big Canadian farms - Sam-Son, Chiefswood, Adena Springs - the people that breed to the expensive stallions in the United States are market breeders," said Reade Baker, who trains Oaks starter Love You Crazy, a 2-year-old purchase. "The big market is Keeneland, and each September you will see something like 250 Canadian-breds there."

It appears as if American owners are seeking out Canadian-breds at the premier sales south of the border.

"Positively," said Baker. "It is hard to buy a good horse no matter where it is bred, but with a Canadian-bred there's a bonus - we have big races for Canadian-breds, the triple tiara for fillies and the Canadian Triple Crown. Other [regional] programs don't have the same splash or sizzle."

Elisabeth Alexander, a top owner and breeder in Ohio, knew that Christies Treasure, a daughter of Belong to Me, was a Canadian-bred when she started to bid on her at the 2005 Fasig-Tipton July yearling sale.

"As soon as she started training and showing some promise, the [Woodbine] Oaks was our immediate goal," said Alexander, who bought the filly for $160,000.

Kimchi, a $70,000 Kentucky yearling purchase by Seasoft Stable, ended a nine-year reign by homebreds in the Oaks. Sam-Son Farms, which will start Quiet Jungle in this year's Oaks, won three of those races.

The other auction purchases that won the Oaks in the last two decades are Silent Fleet (1996), Gal in a Ruckus (1995), Plenty of Sugar (1994), and Blondeinamotel (1989).

This year's Oaks has homebreds from Sam-Son, Eugene Melnyk, Bill Sorokolit, and Belcawat Farm going up against the auction horses Dance to My Tune ($14,290) and Suva ($25,982 Canadian), in addition to Street Sounds, Love You Crazy ($35,000), and Christies Treasure.

Two organizations join up for golf tourney

The Thoroughbred Farm Managers of Ontario, in partnership with Community Association for Riding for the Disabled, is holding a golf tournament on Aug. 27 with a putting contest, prizes, and dinner.

The tournament fee is $150, and it will be held at Kleinburg Golf Course, just north of Woodbine.

For more information, contact CARD at (416) 667-8600.

Gardiner Farms, Howard to be honored

Tickets are still available for the June 15 Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society's annual awards dinner and silent auction to honor Ontario breeders.

The late Jake Howard, owner, breeder, and most recently chairman of Woodbine Entertainment, will be honored with the Mint Julep Award.

Gardiner Farms will receive the top breeder trophy for its outstanding 2006 season.

The event, which will be held at the Toronto Airport Marriott Hotel near Woodbine, will also include a silent auction consisting of items donated by the members and friends of the Thoroughbred community, as well as 2008 stallion seasons from several of Ontario's top sires.

All proceeds are to benefit LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.