08/11/2005 11:00PM

New stallion operation hangs out its shingle

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Audrey Haisfield, who races under the name of NeverTell Racing, will relocate the stallions Doneraile Court, Medaglia d'Oro, and Marquetry from John Sikura's Hill 'n' Dale Farms in Lexington, Ky., to open her own stallion division.

The NeverTell stallion division will be known as Stonewall Farm and be located in Midway, Ky. Haisfield has hired former Damara Farm manager Bert Welker to run the stallion operation.

Sikura, who struck a deal this week that will bring Haskell winner Roman Ruler to Hill 'n' Dale upon his retirement, said he and Haisfield "are parting on good terms."

"I am very excited to launch a stallion operation, and I just feel it is the right time to realize my dream of standing these stallions," said Haisfield, who entered the high-level Thoroughbred auction market with her husband, Richard, at the Barretts juvenile sale in March 2004. The couple made a splashy debut, buying Atlantic Ocean for $700,000 and Honest Answer for $510,000 from The Thoroughbred Corp.'s dispersal and going in partnership with Sikura in paying $1.35 million for Cat Fighter.

"Although it is a tremendous undertaking to start an operation like this from scratch," Haisfield said, "Stonewall Farm Stallions has the advantage of having a foundation of top-class stallions."

The Haisfields purchased E.K. Gaylord's historic former property Gaillardia Farm and originally renamed it NeverTell Farm. But now, Audrey Haisfield says, she is restoring the farm's original name of Stonewall, though she will continue to race as NeverTell.

"It was named after the wonderful signed stone wall that runs the entire front of the property," she said. "In addition to this remarkable masonry, Stonewall Farm has been known for raising great racehorses, such as the famed Lexington, as well as champion Track Robbery."

Not for Love filly tops statebred sale

The New York Breeders' Sales Company held its first summer yearling session Thursday night under a tent at the Yaddo show grounds near Saratoga Race Course. The first of two sessions sold 54 lots for $829,600, yielding an average price of $15,363. Buy-backs were a high 35 percent.

The sale-topping price was a healthy $150,000 for a Not for Love filly out of a Grade 3 winner and multiple Grade 1-placed Cure the Blues mare, Pentatonic. The New York-bred session-topper went to Dick Lossen. The consignor was McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, which sold the filly on behalf of Sheila and Herb Sherry.

Prominent pinhookers - including Becky Thomas, Buzz Chace, and Kip Elser - were among those spotted in the barn area in the days before the auction. Murray Smith, who enjoyed a successful 2-year-old sale season this year and is now restocking her barn with yearlings, also was on the buyers' list as the purchaser of a $10,000 Judge T C colt out of the unraced Miswaki mare Nobody's Angel. That lot also hailed from the McMahon agency, which consigned the colt for the Thoroughbred Management Program and the State University of New York at Cobleskill.

Not all the sellers were local. Among the consignors were some familiar Kentucky names, too. Peter and Gina Kirwan's Glenmalure Farm was listed with six yearlings sold for a total of $239,000. Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Ramsey Farm, which has stood Catienus in New York, sold a $4,000 colt by that sire out of the Septieme Ciel winner September Sky. Carl Deville was the buyer.

The auction was to continue with its second and final session on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Pitino bringing in new money

University of Louisville Cardinals basketball coach Rick Pitino is doing his bit to bring new owners into the game. At the Aug. 9 opening session of Fasig-Tipton's selected yearling sale, Pitino, a longtime racing fan and racehorse owner, purchased a $375,000 Elusive Quality-Very Special Lite colt for a four-person partnership that includes first-time investors.

Pitino's partners were in the pavilion for the bidding, and after signing the ticket on behalf of "Runnin Cardinal," Pitino jokingly tore small squares off the yellow receipt and passed them out to his partners to represent their shares.

One of the new owners is Robert "Rocket" Lytle, Pitino's caddy at Pebble Beach and a self-described "degenerate player of the ponies."

"We gave him one of the legs," Pitino said. "The thing is, Rocket's got about 800 loops that he has to fulfill to pay for this.

"David Ingordo picks out our horses, and Rocket liked the way this horse looked, so we went with what Rocket thought."

"I don't know yet if it was a good read or a bad read," Lytle said. "This is a lot easier than being a caddy, because, right now, I don't know what I'm doing wrong or right!"

The other new owner in the group is Sandy Maggio, who joins Lytle, Pitino, and Chris Sullivan in owning the Elusive Quality colt.

"I hope for their sake that they have good luck," Pitino said.

Plans for the colt include sending him to trainer Cam Gambolati, said Pitino, and racing "in Kentucky and New York, probably."

Pitino said his son Michael will manage the partnership.

"Because I cry every time I get a bill," Pitino said.