02/26/2002 12:00AM

Not everybody's buying


MIAMI - With an early top price of $900,000 for an A.P. Indy colt, Fasig-Tipton's select 2-year-old sale at Calder Race Course on Tuesday showed the ups and downs consignors have learned to expect in the risky 2-year-old market.

Hopes for an explosive sale ran high among sellers the weekend before the sale, when such buyers as Sheikh Mohammed's representative John Ferguson and Irishman Tony Ryan - both million-dollar spenders in the yearling market - attended under-tack shows leading up to the auction. But those buyers didn't show up for the sale, and there were no seven-figure horses as of 5:30 p.m. Eastern, though several attractive horses had yet to sell.

Consignors were jolted early when nine of the first 16 horses through the ring failed to bring their reserves. The day evened out as the session continued, but many consignors withdrew horses rather than face what they perceived to be a fruitless run through the ring.

"It's a 2-year-old sale," said Fasig-Tipton executive Boyd Browning. "It's very good in places, but a rising tide doesn't raise all boats."

B. Wayne Hughes, represented by trainer Ron Ellis, created his own flood tide when he bid the early session-leading price of $900,000 for a horse he had never seen. M and H Training and Sales, agent, offered the A.P. Indy colt out of stakes-placed Lucinda K, by Red Ransom.

"I was standing back here and couldn't see," said Hughes, who stood with Ellis behind the bidding ring in Calder's paddock. "In fact, I've never seen him. They told me to buy him, and I did."

The colt fits Hughes's criteria, which runs toward colts that have sire power behind them.

"If I'm going to spend that much money for one, I'm definitely hoping that colt can also become a stallion," Hughes said.

"He likes A.P. Indys and Storm Cats," Ellis said of his client. "This colt is by the right sire, and he worked well. You have to pay for those. If I had to knock him, he's a little light on the bottom side," Ellis added, referring to the colt's female family; he is the first foal for Lucinda K., whose family has a paucity of stakes winners through four generations.

Hughes explained that Roger King. owner of King World Productions, bred and owned the colt. Hughes bought another colt from King last year. "I guess I'm trying to help out the Kings."

King nearly spent the $900,000 several hours later when he was underbidder on an $800,000 Seattle Slew-Sharp Call (Sharpen Up) ridgling. Mortgage Specialists owner Mike Gill bought the colt, a half-brother to millionaire Flag Down, from Terry Oliver, agent.

Among the afternoon's other big prices were a $650,000 Touch Gold half-sister to Grade 1 winner Left Bank that Michael Tabor's agent Demi O'Byrne bought from Eddie Woods, agent; a $575,000 Phone Trick-Pert Lady colt that O'Byrne bought from Robert Scanlon, agent; and a $550,000 Storm Cat colt out of Argentine classic winner Fontemar that trainer Patrick Biancone bought for Dr. Thomas Liang from Scanlon's consignment.

But the day's biggest winner was Roger Bronzine, who fired one right out of the park and beyond city limits with an Arch colt out of Grade 2 winner Mixed Appeal (Mighty Appealing).

When Bronzine bought the colt at the 2001 Keeneland September auction for $22,000, he clearly saw something few others did, and the colt rewarded him at Calder with a $660,000 sale price.

"I'm going to the bar!" a wide-eyed Bronzine said as O'Byrne signed the ticket.

"I thought he was an awesome-looking colt in September," added Bronzine, who owns Sarum Farm in Lexington, Ky. "He was put together well, but he was going through a gangly stage. If you could see through that, everything fit together, and he walked like an athlete. I told my consignor here [Danny Pate's Solitary Oak agency], 'If they don't like him, I don't know what I've been doing in this business.' "

Despite the presence of the market's big-game hunters like O'Byrne, the sale got off to a slower start than many sellers anticipated. The list of late outs grew through the day as consignors pulled their stock rather than buy it back. Others had expensive buybacks, such as the Unbridled filly, a $375,000 yearling, that Maurice Miller III, agent - known for frequently turning expensive yearlings into enormous home run juveniles - bought back for $450,000.

"I respect these guys," one trainer said of the pinhookers. "Pinhookers put their heads under the guillotine here."

The guillotine, it turned out, was sharper than some pre-sale hype suggested.