09/23/2005 12:00AM

Maktoum to cut back on Coolmore stock

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Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum, with John Ferguson, leads all buyers at the Keeneland sale.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum, apparently stung by a lack of support for his Darley organization's sires by Coolmore, will sharply reduce buying auction stock by Coolmore stallions, according to a story Friday in the English newspaper Racing Post.

A change in Maktoum's buying policy had been widely rumored since the select yearling sale last month in Deauville, France. But Maktoum's bloodstock adviser, John Ferguson, denied at the Keeneland September yearling sale that Maktoum would avoid bidding on Coolmore-sired horses, calling Coolmore "friends and competitors."

Ferguson's comments Friday in the Racing Post suggested, however, that Maktoum feels Coolmore has not supported Darley stallions as heavily as Darley had supported theirs.

"Darley has more than 50 stallions who this year will cover 6,000 mares worldwide," he said. "We have a responsibility to support those breeders who support us."

The Racing Post quoted an unnamed Coolmore spokesman who responded to Ferguson's public statements by saying, "We are unable to speak for anyone else, but our policy is to try to buy the very best horses we see, regardless of what stallion they are by or who owns them."

The Racing Post reported that Darley representatives denied Maktoum would completely boycott Coolmore-sired stock, with Ferguson repeating his assertion at Keeneland that Darley would continue to pursue the best yearlings on offer, regardless of their sires.

Darley has purchased yearlings and juveniles by Coolmore sires in the past, including a world-record $5.2 million Tale of the Cat colt at the 2005 Fasig-Tipton Calder juvenile sale in March. But at Keeneland's September sale, Maktoum seemed to pointedly avoid bidding on Coolmore-sired stock despite spending nearly $36 million on 22 yearlings, as of Friday.

Ferguson, representing Darley, was easily the leading buyer by gross at the Keeneland September sale, far outpacing Coolmore representative Demi O'Byrne, the second-leading buyer, who by Sept. 23 had bought 18 lots for just over $21.6 million. Darley most notably purchased colts by Storm Cat, including a sale-record $9.7 million son of Tranquility Lake, at the Keeneland September sale. Coolmore bought an undisclosed number of lifetime breeding rights in the stallion, as did other entities, but the popular and successful sire stands at the Young family's Overbrook Farm and not at any of Coolmore's properties.

Coolmore heavily supports its own stallions in the auction ring, frequently buying progeny by its own sires for hefty prices. The Coolmore stud roster features such popular stallions as Fusaichi Pegasus, Giant's Causeway, Rock of Gibraltar, Sadler's Wells, Montjeu, and others. They have on occasion purchased and campaigned runners from Darley's breeding program. Last year, Coolmore principal John Magnier bought the priciest yearling at Ireland's Goffs Orby sale, a filly by Darley stallion Green Desert, for about $1.2 million.

Tactical Cat colt sells for $130,000

The top of the Keeneland September yearling market was still in six-figure territory as the auction continued Friday in its 11th of 14 sessions. As of 5:30 p.m., a $130,000 Tactical Cat colt out of Touch Your Toes was the top marker. Bongo Pinhooking bought the colt from Windfields Farm, which acted as agent on behalf of Cedarow Farms.

Through Thursday, the last session for which final figures were available, the auction had sold a total of 2,640 yearlings for $371,287,200, a record that easily surpassed last year's 10-day gross of $312,462,500 for 2,546. Average price through the first 10 of 14 days rose 15 percent to $140,639, and median climbed 9 percent to $60,000.

Buck Pond buys Wild Wonder

Doug Arnold of Buck Pond Farm near Versailles, Ky., has purchased the stallion Wild Wonder, and the horse has moved to Buck Pond from Spendthrift Farm in Lexington.

Buck Pond hasn't announced Wild Wonder's stud fee for 2006. Wild Wonder stood for $5,000 in 2005.

Wild Wonder, an 11-year-old son of Wild Again, is the sire of such runners as Wild Fit, winner of this year's Del Mar Debutante and a leading contender for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, and Grade 2 winner Fusaichi Rock Star, an $825,000 juvenile at Fasig-Tipton's Calder sale last season. He also is the sire of a yearling colt out of Susie Do that brought the top price of $270,000 at Wednesday's session at the Keeneland September yearling sale.

"This sets us up to potentially have the sires of two Grade 1 Breeders' Cup winners at our farm," said Arnold. Buck Pond Farm also stands Lost Soldier, sire of Lost in the Fog, who is pointing for the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Wild Wonder has progeny earnings of more than $1.9 million from three crops of racing age.

* Lane's End Farm has revised the stud fee for graded-stakes winner Midway Road to $7,500. The farm announced last week that Midway Road had retired from racing to stand there at a $5,000 fee.