08/22/2005 11:00PM

Kentucky farms buy Southern Image

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Multiple Grade 1 winner and millionaire Southern Image will stand in Kentucky starting in 2006, but it's not clear yet whether he'll be at Taylor Made Farm near Nicholasville or at WinStar Farm near Versailles.

The farms, which have teamed up to purchase several stallions in recent years, have jointly bought the 5-year-old son of Halo's Image. The horse retired last month after developing sore cannon bones.

Southern Image, a $300,000 graduate of the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. select juvenile auction, went on to earn more than $1.8 million in a career that spanned three seasons. He won 6 of 8 lifetime starts, including the 2004 Santa Anita and Pimlico Special handicaps and the 2003 Malibu Stakes, all Grade 1 events. He also won the 2004 Sunshine Millions Classic; finished second in the 2004 Stephen Foster, another Grade 1 event; and was third in the Grade 2 San Vicente in 2003.

Southern Image is out of the unraced Dixieland Band mare Pleasant Dixie and is her best foal. His fee will likely be set during the first week of November.

Although Taylor Made and WinStar have not yet decided at which farm their newest stallion will stand, Southern Image will be available for inspection at Taylor Made during the Sept. 12-26 Keeneland September yearling sales.

Verbasle, 17, euthanized after falling ill

Verbasle, dam of 2005 Florida Derby winner High Fly and two other stakes winners, has died at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute at age 17.

The Slewpy mare, who was owned by Charlotte Weber and had been boarded at Lane's End's Oak Tree division in Kentucky, initially developed colic but later came down with the painful hoof disease laminitis, according to officials at Weber's Live Oak Stud in Florida. She was euthanized on Aug. 16.

Bred in Kentucky and campaigned by Charles T. Wilson, Verbasle was runner-up in the 1990 Matron and also finished third in the 1991 Nijana and Squander stakes and in the Boiling Springs Handicap. She left the races with a career record of 26-4-4-8 and $110,313 in earnings.

Weber purchased Verbasle at the 2001 Keeneland November auction for $200,000.

In addition to High Fly, Verbasle produced Estimraar, a Grade 3 winner in Dubai, and Prairie Gold Lassie Stakes winner Smokey Mirage. High Fly remains her best foal, with wins in the Florida Derby, Fountain of Youth, and Aventura Stakes, in which he set a Gulfstream Park record of 1:35.88 for one mile. He was also third in the Holy Bull Stakes.

Verbasle gave birth to a Seeking the Gold colt on Feb. 11 and had been in foal this year to Distorted Humor, but aborted that foal after becoming ill, a farm official said.

Verbasle will be cremated and buried at Live Oak.

OBS sale can't keep pace

The 2005 OBS August yearling sale's select session didn't keep pace with last year's record-setting auction.

Monday's one-day select session in Ocala, Fla., ended with 182 yearlings bringing an aggregate of $9,171,500, down slightly from last year's record $9,252,000 for 177 lots. Average also declined from the 2004 record of $52,271, falling 4 percent to $50,393, and median fell short of last year's $45,000 mark, declining 11 percent to $40,000.

Buybacks rose this year, climbing from 21 percent last year to 30 percent.

The top of the market appeared healthiest on Monday, with 20 yearlings bringing prices of $100,000 or more, up from 16 last season. Monday's session-topper was a $190,000 filly by first-crop sire Songandaprayer. Barry Berkelhammer, agent, purchased the filly on behalf of Wanda Polisseni's Purple Haze Stable. The filly is a daughter of the Raja's Revenge mare Revenge Time and is a half-sister to Badge, a Grade 3 winner who was third in the Preakness Stakes. Francis and Barbara Vanlangendonck's Summerfield agency consigned the session-topper.

At Tuesday's first of four open sessions, the early session-leader was Hip No. 331, a $130,000 Hennessy colt that Caldera Racing bought from Casse Sales, agent. The colt is out of the unraced Miswaki mare Camptown Gyspy.

Royal Academy colt tops Deauville session

The Deauville yearling sale continued in Deauville, France, on Tuesday with a 100,000-euro (about $122,290) Royal Academy colt the third session's top seller.

Peter J. Doyle Bloodstock purchased the son of Driving Miswaki (by Miswaki) from l'Elevage du Pays d'Ouche.

Tuesday's third of four sessions sold 52 yearlings for about $8,072,928. The second session averaged about $155,237. Compared in euros to last year's equivalent session, which sold 58 yearlings, gross fell 21 percent and average dropped 12 percent. The buyback rate increased from 18 percent last season to 28 percent this year.