06/25/2009 11:00PM

Maryland show spreads some green

Email

Sunday marks the 75th anniversary of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association's annual Thoroughbred yearling show. The event is more than just a series of seven conformation classes for Maryland-breds, it's also a chance for breeders to put their horses up for racing-related bonuses.

All show graduates, regardless of how they place in the conformation classes, are automatically eligible for a total of $40,000 in awards when they run as 2- and 3-year-olds. Half of the award funds will be divided among the top four juvenile earners, and the remaining $20,000 will be split four ways among the top for 3-year-old earners the following racing season. The show exhibitors receive the awards.

In addition, the show classes offer prize money. The first six classes offer $1,000 in total prizes, with class winners taking $500. The seventh and final class, the grand championship, settles a $1,000 prize on the champion and $500 on the reserve champion. Entry fees are $25 per horse.

The racing awards are a particular draw, said exhibitor Laurie McDowell, who has a Slew City Slew-Quite an Evening filly in a class for Maryland-bred fillies by out-of-state sires.

McDowell breeds to race. This is her first Maryland-bred, and she has her doubts about how lucrative the Maryland-bred racing program will be. But the show presented an opportunity.

"It's a small chance to make some money," said McDowell, who lives in Bel Air, Md. "It's also good experience to get yearlings out and off the farm, get them out there in the world."

McDowell said she's shown her filly Quite an Eclipse in two all-breed horse show halter classes to give herself and the filly some experience in the ring before Sunday. She didn't win in the Western-dominated class of paint horses and Quarter Horses, "but she behaved herself, and that's what I was going for," McDowell said.

The Maryland breeders' show's judge, bloodstock agent Buzz Chace, will not know the yearlings' pedigrees and must make his decisions based solely on the horses' looks.

"I'm excited about it," said Chace, who follows in the footsteps of such famous judges as Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons. "I'll be looking for what I always look for: a racehorse, an athlete. People these days tend to have yearlings trimmed down and sometimes they look like they've already run. But I like to see them with some flesh on them and not be the finished product, so to speak. I like them to have a little bit left in the tank. I like a hay, oats, and water horse with good balance."

Three Chimneys sending three south

Three Chimneys will send three of its stallions - Exchange Rate, Point Given, and Good Reward - shuttling to South America for the Southern Hemisphere breeding season.

Point Given also shuttled last year. But before 2008 Three Chimneys hadn't shuttled stallions since the 1980s when the Midway, Ky., farm shuttled Miesque's Son and Chief's Crown to Australia, said farm president Case Clay.

One of the appeals to the current deals, Clay said, is that Three Chimneys can limit the number of covers a stallion makes. In Point Given's case, for example, Three Chimneys limited him to approximately 100 during his sojourn in Brazil.

"We weren't seeking this out," Clay said. "All of these came about from farms contacting us."

Point Given will stand at Haras Anderson Agropecuaria in Brazil. Good Reward also is headed for Brazil and the Haras Nacional. Point Given stood for $15,000 in the United States this year, while Good Reward carried a $10,000 fee.

Exchange Rate, a son of Danzig, has the highest U.S. fee of the three shuttlers at $25,000. He will stand at the new Argentinian nursery La Leyenda, which employs former Three Chimneys president Dan Rosenberg as a consultant.

"They wanted to make a splash, and Exchange Rate is very popular in Argentina," Clay said, adding that the private financial offer La Leyenda made for the horse's Southern Hemisphere rights was strong enough to convince his shareholders to vote yes.

Clay acknowledged that the economy also makes shuttling more tempting now. Northern Hemisphere stallion farms are facing increased competition for mares, and many have slashed stud fees and offered attractive incentives to lure mares into their horses' books.

"It does make it more tempting if the offer is significant enough to make it worth the while," Clay said, "and if we limit the amount of covers and do it on a one-year trial basis, some horses it might work out well for."

Fasig-Tipton catalog larger for Saratoga

Fasig-Tipton's Saratoga select yearling catalog will be bigger this year with 235 yearlings, as compared with 195 in 2008. Last year the sale's average and median managed to hold virtually level with the 2007 numbers despite a general economic downturn.

"We had a significant increase in horses nominated to our select yearling sales," Fasig-Tipton president Boyd Browning said. "I think there's been a heightened interest and awareness of Fasig-Tipton in the last 12 months since our acquisition."

Dubai-based Synergy Investments purchased Fasig-Tipton in April 2008. The company is chaired by Abdulla al-Habbai, who has been linked closely to Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum. Since the sale, Fasig-Tipton has stepped up its customer service, most noticeably with a hospitality area catering to buyers at its Calder select juvenile sale in March.

"That demonstrated tangible evidence of the efforts we intend to make to recruit buyers to the sales," Browning said.