10/01/2008 12:00AM

Irish sale follows all-too-familiar pattern

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Ireland's Goffs Million yearling sale was the latest to slide in troubled economic times, following a trend seen for much of the summer and fall at yearling sales.

The auction, in County Kildare, ended Wednesday with 444 yearlings sold for about $44,970,670, for an average price of about $101,285. Compared year-to-year in the local auction currency of euros, those figures were down 40 percent and 34 percent, respectively.

The sale-topper, a full sister to Coolmore's Group 1-winning juvenile Mastercraftsman, sold to Coolmore for about $1.4 million and was the auction's only seven-figure lot. Wednesday's final session sold 142 yearlings, including a 340,000-euro session-topper whose pedigree is familiar to American racing fans. Offered as Hip No. 480, the filly is a daughter of Galileo and Claxton's Slew, making her a half-sister to North American champion and Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Escena. Oaks Farm Stables sold the bay filly for the equivalent of about $472,600. Blandford Bloodstock was the buyer.

The steep declines were not surprising in light of the general tumble in the Thoroughbred yearling market this year and the bad economic news that roiled stock markets and national economies from the United States to Asia as the Goffs auction was underway.

Henry Beeby, the CEO of Goffs, described the conditions as "testing" and noted that, under the circumstances, the figures were "down on last year but still figures many would celebrate."

Goffs was to resume selling Thursday with its one-day Goffs Sportsman's yearling auction.

Fasig-Tipton sale slumping

Fasig-Tipton Midlantic's Eastern fall yearling sale entered its final day Wednesday on losses, as well.

The auction in Timonium, Md., notched a second day of declines on Tuesday, when gross receipts fell 40 percent, the average price dropped 25 percent, and median lagged by 16 percent.

The sale was still under way Wednesday at 5 p.m. with a $320,000 Holy Bull-Disco Darlin colt the leader. Ed Stevenson bought the bay colt, who sold as Hip No. 678 and is out of a stakes-placed runner. Candyland sold the session leader.

Topped by a $170,000 Tiznow-Cinnamon Spice colt that Welker Sales Agency sold to Jay Em Ess Stable, Tuesday's session sold 155 yearlings for $2,768,300, for an average of $17,860 with a $9,000 median. Buy-backs also rose, from 21 percent last year to 39 percent.

California opens race options

With Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's signature on Tuesday, California's statebred races became open to horses who were conceived, but not foaled, in the Golden State. The new law will allow California racing secretaries to include California-conceived runners in statebred contests as a way of boosting fields. It also adds racing options for California-sired horses who already may be eligible for statebred purse money in the states where they were foaled.

Registered California-sired runners won't be eligible for breeder or owner awards. They will continue to be eligible for awards to stallion owners, provided the sire is registered in accordance with the awards program's rules.

The California Thoroughbred Breeders Association backed the new legislation, which the association's executive vice-president, Doug Burge, said would also "provide a safer means of shipping horses both from and back to California for breeding purposes. Now the newborn foal will not be subjected to shipping across country with the mare, as it can be born at the destination of the next breeding."

Majestic Warrior retired

Majestic Warrior, a Grade 1-winning son of A. P. Indy, has retired from racing and will stand his first season at Coolmore Stud's Kentucky division, Ashford Stud. The farm has not yet set his 2009 fee.

Three-year-old Majestic Warrior won his debut at Saratoga, then took the 2007 Hopeful over Ready's Image and Maimonides. He came back to finish sixth behind War Pass in the Champagne and came out of the race with a hoof injury. That required a five-month layoff ending in March of this year, and Majestic Warrior never returned to winning form.

He last finished fourth in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens Handicap at Belmont in June, closing the book on his career with 2 wins from 7 career starts and a $239,229 bankroll.

Coolmore Stud bought a half-interest in the colt in September of 2007 in a private deal with George Steinbrenner and family's Kinsman Stud, which bred Majestic Warrior.

Majestic Warrior is out of Kinsman's dual Grade 1 winner Dream Supreme, by Seeking the Gold.

Australian facility free of influenza

Secondary testing for equine influenza performed on 74 stallions quarantined at Australia's Eastern Creek facility has shown all of the horses to be free of the viral disease, agriculture officials have said. A British horse received an initial positive result in preliminary tests last week. Agriculture Minister Tony Burke called the initial positive a "false positive" and a "rogue result." An EI outbreak last year affected New South Wales and Queensland, prompting a three-month shutdown of the breeding and racing industry.