05/02/2002 11:00PM

Med school couldn't match allure of sale ring

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There comes a time in life of an undergraduate college student when the future comes into focus. For Nadia Sanan, then a student at Cornell University, that time came in the summer of 1997 when her father took her to the Keeneland summer sales.

It was the first time at the sales for Satish Sanan's Padua Stables, and young Nadia was caught up in the bustling swirl.

"It was, wow, love at first sight," said Nadia Sanan, now the general manager of Padua Stables. "I mean within 24 hours I knew what I really wanted to do, and that was to be in the Thoroughbred business. So, while I was a pre-med major, I changed my curriculum to include courses in genetics and business economics.

"I graduated in '99 with a degree in neurobiology and told my mother and father that I did not want to go to medical school but to work on the farm. My father was ecstatic. My mother was not so sure.

"But, after six months of working on the farm, Mom saw that my enthusiasm was as strong as on the first day on the job, and she came around."

Asked if the pre-med years spent at Cornell University were more or less wasted, Sanan was quick to answer, "Not at all. The pre-med courses, like anatomy, help me to understand what the farm veterinarians are doing and telling me. I have a library of veterinary books, and I add to my knowledge by pestering the farm vet by asking him a lot of questions about one thing or another.

"I am a big reader of everything related to the Thoroughbred industry. I read books on nicking, mating alignments, all the trade publications. I like to read the books that deal with the industry. Like the books on Calumet Farm and Seabiscuit - any book that I can learn about the people and the way they did things."

The Padua training and nursery facility in Summerfield, Fla., has 67 broodmares. Each, according to Sanan, is scrutinized by computer programs, physical traits, and marketing considerations.

"It's team work," said Sanan. "I work very closely with Padua's stallion and broodmare manger, Bruce Hill. We study each mare's conformation, and how, for example, have similar matings worked? We talk to bloodstock advisors, from time to time, for their opinions and recommendations."

Sanan outlined the Padua business plan: "Back in '99 when we had to raise some cash, we sold off a number of our better broodmares and some of their foals as well. This set us back in our overall business plan, which is to develop stallions, sell into the commercial market, and also race a stable of homebreds and horses we buy at auction.

"Our goal is to breed 50 mares in Kentucky and breed another 100 mares in Florida to support our stallions. We will, from time to time, switch them around. Selling is nothing new for us. We have always sold either publicly or privately, and we have always bought to enrich the diversity of our broodmare band.

"We have been very pleased with the response of Florida breeders to our stallions Last year was our first year in the stallion business. We had a full book for Yes It's True's first season last year, and we had to close his book in March of this year. Delaware Township, whom we only got late last fall, was booked full in February, had his book closed at 80. Like Delaware Township, we limited his book, as he is a first year stallion as we did not want to overdo it.

"Until now, we have not made any discount deals. Some seasons are sold with no guarantee, and others are sold on the basis of live foal. As we go into our third year of breeding next year, we are considering multiple-mare discounts, but nothing has been determined as yet."

Finally, the name "Padua" has been constantly mispronounced. Sanan explained, "My mother's side of the family is Irish, and my grandmother had a farm in England that she called Padua after Saint Anthony of Padua, one of Ireland's patron saints. Some call us "pa-doo-ah", others a variation of this, but the correct pronunciation is "pad-you-ah," with the accent on the first syllable."