01/17/2003 1:00AM

Looks count for much at Ocala

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The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's winter mixed sale, held Jan. 13 through Jan. 15, produced mixed results. On the one hand, those with good-looking yearlings and young broodmares in foal to commercially attractive stallions were in a bull market. But older broodmares and subpar yearlings were in a bear market.

The numbers read: 811 sold this year, compared with 612 in 2002. The 2003 average price of $8,609 was up half a percent over 2002, but the buyback rate was also up, from 19 percent to 28 percent. Yearlings were the obvious stars of this sale. In the two preferred sessions of 2002, session one recorded 108 yearlings selling for an average price of $12,300 and a median of $6,500. Session two recorded 73 yearlings averaging $6,100 and a median of $4,200. The 2003 preferred session sold 102 yearlings for an average price of $17,000 and a median of $14,750.

"If you had a good-looking yearling, you were golden," said Francis Vanlangendonck of Summerfield Sales, the auction's leading consignor. "If you didn't, you could take a bath. Same with broodmares. Buyers wanted young mares in foal to commercial sires. Older mares with spotty produce records were mostly ignored."

Ten of the sale's highest-priced lots were yearlings. These included Hip Nos. 101, 020, and 297, all consigned by Summerfield.

No. 101 is a bay filly by successful 2002 freshman sire Elusive Quality. The filly's dam, by Fly So Free, is a winning daughter of the Canadian champion 2 year-old filly Legarto. This is the family of two-time Eclipse champion Desert Vixen. No. 101 went to Green River Farm for $70,000.

Nos. 020 and 297, both yearling colts, sold for $52,000 and $57,000, respectively. Both were sired by the lightly raced Untuttable, who stands at Stonehedge Farm South for a $2,500 fee. Untuttable is by Unbridled from the family of Mr. Prospector, and his oldest foals are yearlings.

"The mares behind these two yearlings are very, very commercial," said Vanlangendonck. "You have to hand it to the Stonehedge people, they bred their very best mares to Untuttable."

Padua Stables, which is ordinarily associated with the top of the bloodstock and yearling market, went bargain hunting and bought six lots for an average of $14,500. The top price paid by Padua Stables was $30,000 for Hip No. 875, a 6-year-old broodmare by Sky Classic in foal to the farm's resident stallion Exchange Rate. Padua also bought Hip No. 380, an 8-year-old broodmare, for $4,000. The mare is believed in foal to a Padua stallion, Dance Master.

Forbidden Apple nearing the end

Circumstances permitting, the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Barretts/CTBA Turf is the last hurrah for Forbidden Apple, a millionaire and Grade 1 stakes winner from Bridlewood Farm.

"That's it," said George Isaacs, manager of Bridlewood. "He comes home and goes to stud for $5,000 live foal."

The only possible hitch is the race's earnings condition, which prefers horses who accumulated earnings in 2002 graded stakes.

"Forbidden Apple ranks eighth on the list of Florida-breds under the conditions of the race, and six can run," said Isaacs.

"Here we have a horse who was close to being an Eclipse champion, has won over $1.6 million, and we have to sit behind those other horses hoping we can get to race. Toss that last race, the Great State Challenge at Sam Houston - the horse did not ship well. Since he's back, he's training like a bear."