07/14/2005 11:00PM

New stallions reputations on line at sales

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - In the spring, the season may turn a young man's fancy toward romance, but summer - or the summer sale season, actually - is the time of year that adds energy and excitement to the stallion managers of Kentucky and other breeding centers.

The sales season is the time when many breeders and farms make their profit for the year, and the select auction sessions - Fasig-Tipton's sales in Lexington and Saratoga and the early days of Keeneland September - provide a majority of the income, although they account for a minority of yearlings.

Also, at these sales stallions earn their reputations as sires of promising racing stock and money-making yearlings.

With the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July select yearling sale on Monday and Tuesday, the yearling auction cycle of 2005 begins with a husky catalog of yearlings carefully chosen for their appeal to the buying public. And among the most eagerly awaited lots in the sale are some of those listed in the front half of the catalog, which focuses on progeny of stallions with offspring age 2 or younger.

Boyd Browning, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Fasig-Tipton, said that the auction company's new sire showcase "was formed due to the the market's keen interest in seeing yearlings by young stallions."

Not only is there great interest in these yearlings, but they consistently bring substantial prices.

"There has always been a sense of optimism in our business," Browning said, "and especially in regard to the yearlings produced by stallions that have been recently retired."

The collection of new stallions whose first foals are yearlings includes some recent stars from the racetrack. Among the group are champions Orientate and Johannesburg, Grade 1 winners Street Cry (Dubai World Cup and Stephen Foster), Came Home (Hopeful, Santa Anita Derby, and Pacific Classic), and Red Bullet (Preakness Stakes), as well as top-class runners such as Include, Yonaguska, Officer, Snow Ridge, E Dubai, and Buddha.

Gainesway Farm stands both Orientate and Officer and has consigned yearlings by both sires to the Fasig-Tipton sale. Focusing on the stallions' qualities as racehorses, Gainesway's Michael Hernon said: "Orientate exhibited the two superb qualities in his raw natural speed and his willingness to compete and fight for his wins. He is very game, and if he can pass on his attitude and natural talent to his offspring, he figures to be a very good stallion.

"Among other first-year sires, I am very impressed by Officer's stock. He was a top 2-year-old who was also a Grade 1 winner going a mile and a sixteenth at Belmont [in the Champagne Stakes] and was a very early-maturing horse. He will likely be very appealing to the pinhookers for the 2-year-old market."

One yearling by Orientate who will receive a lot of looks is the half-brother to Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones (Hip No. 133) who is consigned by Summerfield as agent.

Mill Ridge consigns a pair of Include colts at the Fasig-Tipton sale.

"The weanlings and yearlings by Include have impressed me with their quality, as well as their strength and scope," said Bayne Welker, director of sales for Mill Ridge. "Also, the yearlings by Orientate and a couple of other young sires have made a very good impression on me. Orientate was not just a sprinter, and I liked his versatility. His offspring do not look like they will be pure sprinters, either. Also, the Yonaguskas look athletic and smooth with a lot of presence."

In presenting sales yearlings and selecting those that fit the premium market, both Hernon and Welker are looking for the traits that consistently attract buyers. They, like other serious judges of Thoroughbreds, look for a well-grown yearling with good muscle and bone. But they also look for yearlings with a look of confidence and quality.

The selectors of premium yearlings, such as Buzz Chace, Mike Ryan, Mark Reid, and the McKathan brothers, look for power in a horse's body, balance in its proportions, and the length of body and leg commonly called scope.

Among the yearlings with these qualities is Hip No. 66, a handsome half-sister to Grade 1 winner Flat Fleet Feet. By the Darley stallion Street Cry, this yearling has a good girth, nice length of neck and shoulder, and is well grown for a May foal. The filly is consigned by Taylor Made Sales.