02/29/2008 12:00AM

Innovative horseman Galpin one of a kind


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Richard Galpin, the noted bloodstock agent who died Wednesday while in Miami for Fasig-Tipton's Calder 2-year-old sale, leaves behind an impressive legacy in both horseflesh and bloodstock agents' careers.

Galpin has had a role in purchasing more than 55 Group or Grade 1 stakes winners worldwide since taking over the Newmarket Bloodstock Agency in 1960. Among them were such standouts as 2004 champion and Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Wilko, 2006 English champion David Junior, 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos, 2002 Belmont Stakes winner Sarava, 1975 English champion juvenile Wollow, and 1978 Epsom Oaks winner Fair Salinia, to name just a few.

And the bloodstock agents whose career paths passed through Galpin's office include John Warren, now racing manager for Queen Elizabeth II, Moyglare Stud representative Fiona Craig, and such familiar British- or Irish-based agents as Geoffrey Howson, Andrew Mead, and Hugo Merry.

Accounts of Galpin by his former assistants and others who knew him well often included the words "thorough" and "eccentric" in almost equal measure. Galpin's diligence in researching an animal is generally regarded as a key to his success. This extended not only to a horse's pedigree, sometimes many generations back, but also to knowing the history of the farmland on which it was raised and the methods by which that farm raised its horses. He considered conformation but was at least as interested in a horse's resting heart rate as an indication of how sound and settled a horse's mind might be.

But Galpin also was famously inclined to rely on subtler and more subjective criteria in selecting horses, too.

"You've got to be turned on by a horse before you empty the bank," he once told Thoroughbred Owner & Breeder. "The horse's personality is the most important thing. For me, conformation is a minor factor."

He favored big ears and a certain nonchalance, even arrogance, in auction horses. Both his scientific and subjective requirements appear to have served him well. He purchased Wilko for just $75,000 as a yearling and paid $175,000 for the 2-year-old David Junior.

Finding fault with a horse might help you eliminate a dud, but it could also be taken too far, in Galpin's view. The challenge, as he put it, was to "see the greatness."

Galpin, whose business was based in Lexington, was 71.

Padua is 'recalibrating'

The Sanan family's Padua Stables has been highly active at the 2008 juvenile sales so far. They bought 10 horses at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. select sale on Feb. 12, and at the Calder auction on Tuesday they bought three colts for a total of $1.05omillion.

It's all part of the plan to upgrade Padua's bloodstock as the family shifts its operations from Florida to Kentucky this year, said Sasha Sanan, the son of farm owners Satish and Anne Sanan.

"We'll run 'em," Sanan said at Calder. "Hopefully, we'll have some class horses out of the bunch. We're still a breed-to-race operation, but we're supplementing our horses, and we've gone through some good lengths to cull the bottom of our mares and weanlings and foals."

He said Padua also will sell some 2-year-olds this year, mainly at auctions in March, April, and June.

"It's mainly a matter of recalibrating a little to be more about top-end horses," he said. "We still have our farm in Florida, and we're breaking about 40 yearlings down there. All the horses we've purchased will go back there to finish up their education before they head to the racetrack."

Layna Kight's other passion

Layna Kight and her husband Hoby sold seven horses for $3,030,000 at the Calder sale on Tuesday, including a $1 million Fusaichi Pegsaus-Silver Tornado to Southern Equine Stables. But that was just the first part of Layna Kight's schedule for the week. After the sale, Kight headed to San Angelo, Texas, to attend to her other career as a world-ranked barrel racer. She competed in a barrel-racing semifinal on Wednesday night, making it to the finals, which were to take place Saturday.

The Kights have five barrel horses, including Layna's 8-year-old Quarter Horse mare Scat, whom she leaves in Texas between competitions.

The money might be small compared to the Calder sale, but a good barrel horse can still bring plenty of money. Not surprisingly, the Kights know something about selling those, too. As with Thoroughbreds, speed is important, but there are other crucial elements.

"It varies, but a lot of what makes a barrel horse valuable is that a lot of people can ride him, he's between about 7 and 10, he can run both in a building and in a big outdoor pen, and he's a horse that can handle all kinds of ground - deep ground and ground that's almost like asphalt," she said. "Those horses are worth a lot of money. The most we've ever paid was $200,000, but in a year and a half the horse made $130,000 with me. I sold him last year in the $300,000 range."

Kight is eighth in the barrel-racing world standings and fifth in the professional rodeo tour standings.