10/08/2003 12:00AM

Melnyk buys 37 Schettine mares


LEXINGTON, Ky. - William Schettine, who recently decided to withdraw almost 57 horses from the Keeneland November sale, has sold 37 broodmares privately to Eugene Melnyk.

The package includes Felicita, dam of Grade 1 winner Take Charge Lady, who added to her illustrious record last Sunday with her second consecutive win in Keeneland's Spinster Stakes. Felicita was among the mares Schettine initially planned to disperse at the November sale, citing a lack of time to manage his bloodstock operation.

But in late September, Schettine canceled that dispersal, saying he would rather sell the mares as a package, preferably to a Florida-based breeder. Melnyk, a Canadian, owns the former Mockingbird Farm, now named Winding Oaks, in Ocala, Fla.

"The real thing that motivated Mr. Melnyk is that we were going to participate in the sales this fall and next year," said Phil Hronec, manager of Winding Oaks. "This gave us an opportunity to get a good group of mares and not kill ourselves trying to find more good mares at the sales."

In addition to 9-year-old Felicita, who is in foal to A. P. Indy, the package deal also includes Rosebud, dam of Group 1 winner Reel Buddy; Dante's Mary, a half-sister to champion Left Bank in foal to Deputy Minister; Betty's Pet, a half-sister to French champion juvenile Elusive City in foal to Fusaichi Pegasus; and Canadian stakes winner Boston Twist, in foal to Point Given.

Hronec said that Melnyk might sell a few of the mares, "but the vast majority of them, we'll foal them out and breed them back," he said.

Melnyk's program focuses on breeding horses for his own racing stable.

Hronec said that the purchase brings the Winding Oaks band to about 155 mares. Most of Schettine's mares currently are in Florida and were to arrive at Winding Oaks on Thursday. Several others in Kentucky and one in Canada were to arrive later.