04/07/2005 11:00PM

Impact of state's sires keeps growing

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New York stallions have been making noise in the auction ring and on the track in recent weeks.

At major sales in Florida, 2-year-olds in training by New York sires Freud and Phone Trick brought high prices. A colt by Phone Trick at the Ocala Breeders' Sales February sale sold for $550,000, which was the second-highest price at the auction. Freud, whose first runners will hit the track this year, was represented by a juvenile at $220,000 at OBS February and one at $300,000 at the Fasig-Tipton sale on March 1

Martin Kinsella, executive director of the New York State Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund Corporation, thinks there are several reasons why juveniles by New York sires have sold so well.

"The word continues to get out in the last two or three years, especially since Funny Cide put the program on the radar screen," Kinsella said. "The number of people calling our office about getting involved is up. Website hits are increasing, and horses do follow the money. Purses remain high in New York, and many people are anticipating them to go higher when the VLT issue is resolved."

Video lottery terminals, or slots, are not yet operating at the state's major racetracks. The New York legislature is working on changing the New York State Supreme Court's rejection last year of the constitutionality of revenue distribution to horsemen.

New York sires Intidab and Catienus are currently playing a role on the road to the Kentucky Derby.

Intidab, who stands at Gallagher's Stud in Ghent, is the sire of leading contender Greater Good, winner of the Grade 3 Rebel Stakes and Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park this year. Also a winner of two graded stakes at Churchill Downs as a 2-year-old, Greater Good has won 5 of 7 starts and has earnings of $436,275.

Catienus, who stands at Highcliff Farm in Delanson, is the sire of Cat Shaker, who won the $100,000 Rushaway Stakes at Turfway Park on March 26. Cat Shaker has earned $94,215 with 2 victories in 9 starts. Cat Shaker was made a late nominee to the Triple Crown.

Catienus was the leading North American first-crop sire in 2004 with 19 winners; seven more runners from the group have become winners in 2005.

Lycius, who stands at Mill Creek Farm in Stillwater, also figures in the Derby scene as the broodmare sire of Flower Alley, winner of the Grade 2 Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park on March 26.

Lycius and Catienus are following in the footsteps of Belong to Me, a successful sire who began his stud career at Sugar Maple Farm in New York in 1994 and now stands at Lane's End Farm in Kentucky. Belong to Me's first crop of runners included Jersey Girl, winner of the Grade 1 Acorn and Grade 1 Mother Goose stakes at Belmont. Lucky Roberto, who won the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga, came from Belong to Me's second crop, while Circle of Life, who won the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga, was from his third crop.

"We've proven with Belong to Me that we can make a stallion in New York," said Suzie O'Cain of Highcliff Farm. "New York mares were part of what got that horse going, and this tells me breeders recognize that with the mare population in this state, that we can make a stallion. I don't want to leave out anybody, but I think Belong to Me kind of paved the way."

O'Cain also mentioned the monetary potential of VLT's as a factor in the increased investment by New York breeders in stallions.

"It's not any one thing, but as you go along, the little things build on other things, and you start a trend," she said. "I think a lot of good minds have made some fine decisions in recent years in this program."

Lexington crucial for Sort It Out

Sort It Out, the New York-bred who won the Whirlaway Stakes at Aqueduct, remains on the Kentucky Derby trail following his third-place finish in the $500,000 WinStar Derby at Sunland Park on April 2. Trainer Bob Baffert is pointing Sort It Out for the Grade 2 Coolmore Lexington Stakes, worth $325,000, at 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland on April 23.

Sort It Out has earned $207,375 with 4 victories in 11 starts. He needs a good effort in the Lexington because he has no earnings from graded stakes.

The Derby field is limited to 20 starters, ranked according to earnings in graded stakes.