10/28/2003 1:00AM

Last hurrah for late stallions


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Sales companies and buyers have complained in recent seasons that North America's stallion ranks have been depleted by age-related attrition and early deaths. The Breeders' Cup results pointed up the losses, as proven sires Pleasant Colony, Kris S., and Unbridled were among those who received posthumous accolades.

Pleasant Colony, who died in December at age 24, sired Classic winner Pleasantly Perfect. Kris S., who was euthanized in May 2002 at 25, sired Juvenile winner Action This Day. And Unbridled, who died in 2001 at 14 after colic complications, sired undefeated Juvenile Fillies winner Halfbridled.

They weren't the only deceased stallions who sired Breeders' Cup winners this year. Honor Grades, a Darby Dan stallion who died unexpectedly at 14 in April 2002, sired the Distaff's longshot winner, Adoration. Affirmed, who died at 26 in 2001, is the broodmare sire of Adoration.

But breeders, buyers, and auction houses may find hope in several other Breeders' Cup results. Grand Slam, a young son of Gone West whom Ashford Stud has bred prolifically, sired Sprint winner Cajun Beat. Gone West, who stands at Mill Ridge in Lexington, sired one of the Turf's two winners, Johar.

If you're looking for a turf runner beyond a mile, the Breeders' Cup results endorsed crossing the great Irish-based sire, Sadler's Wells, with a Darshaan mare. That combination worked twice Saturday at Santa Anita. High Chaparral, who won the 2002 Turf and was a dead-heat winner with Johar in this year's Turf, is a son of Sadler's Wells and the Darshaan matron Kasora. Filly and Mare Turf winner Islington was also by Sadler's Wells and out of the Darshaan mare Hellenic.

Keeneland graduated five winners

Keeneland was quick to point out that it had sold five of the eight Breeders' Cup winners. The most expensive was Classic winner Pleasantly Perfect, who cost Gerald Ford's Diamond A Racing $725,000 at the 1999 September sale. The least expensive was Adoration, who sold for $40,000 at the 2000 September sale - and was bred, incidentally, by Lucy Bassett, wife of Keeneland's former chairman and current trustee, Ted Bassett.

Other Keeneland sale graduates who won at the Breeders' Cup were: Cajun Beat, who initially sold for $145,000 as a November 2000 weanling, then failed to reach his reserve on a $95,000 bid at the 2001 September yearling sale; Action This Day, whom B. Wayne Hughes bought for $150,000 at the 2002 July yearling sale; and Johar, who was bought back by breeder and current owner The Thoroughbred Corporation on a final $180,000 bid at the 2000 September yearling sale.

Akshar sold for $300K

The Tattersalls autumn horses in training sale produced a $303,450 sale-leader in its second session Tuesday in Newmarket, England. That was what Bobby O'Ryan paid for Akshar, a Group 3-placed Danehill colt. Freemason Lodge consigned the colt.

The auction began Monday with strong early results despite a drop in gross sales. On the first of four days of selling, 156 lots were sold for $4,150,482, a 12 percent drop when considered in the local auction currency of guineas. But the average of $26,605 was a 13 percent increase from last year, and the $17,850 median was a 25 percent increase.

The opening session's top seller was the gelding Escayola, a four-time winner by Revoque. English-based trainer Terry Williamson bought Escayola for owner Margaret Findlay.

* Fasig-Tipton's paddock sale at Belmont Park saw a high price of $40,000 for Hard Dance, a 3-year-old son of Unbridled and the stakes-producing Lyphard mare Misty Dancer. Pete Kazamias bought Hard Dance from Spring Hill Farm. A maiden in seven starts, Hard Dance is a half-brother to stakes-winner Quiet Dance.

The one-day auction sold 55 lots for $449,400, producing an average price of $8,171 and a median of $4,700; 15 lots went unsold.