12/15/2006 12:00AM

Once again, Murphy lands his target


Bill Murphy, the owner of Elangeni Farm, is a wheeler-dealer - but, not in any negative sense. Anything that has to do with animals and commerce gets his attention. He syndicates stallions, breeds for the market, and occasionally races.

"I like to go to the U.K. or Ireland from time to time and see what's available," said Murphy. "You know, stallion prospects that might be overlooked by some of the bigger outfits."

In recent years Murphy has bought or syndicated such stallions as Sword Dance, Outflanker, Black Mambo, Act of Duty, and Great Pyramid. Add to the list Sabre d'Argent, who enters stud at Double Diamond Farm in 2007 for a fee of $5,000.

When asked why he deals in syndications when private ownership or partnerships are the usual mode of business these days when standing stallions, Murphy replied: "Ownership of top stallion prospects is more and more in the hands of the affluent few."

Murphy elaborated by observing that well-bred stallion prospects without multiple graded stakes records are often retired to Florida, and, if they make it, they are sold or syndicated to stand in Kentucky.

"The stallions I look for give people who primarily race a chance to buy into a stallion, and if that stallion makes it, they will retain local access," he said.

In the summer of '05, Murphy made a trip to England and was dickering for the $3.6 million yearling Act of Duty. A handsome chestnut colt, Act of Duty is from the final crop of Mr. Prospector out of Nuryette, by Nureyev, making him a half-brother to the millionaire and Grade 1 winner Tap to Music, and a three-quarter brother to Northern Afleet. Murphy subsequently syndicated Act of Duty, who stands his second season at Bridlewood Farm in '07.

"Couldn't help but love Act of Duty," said Murphy. "He's perfect."

But, while Murphy was trying to deal for Act of Duty, his eye was attracted to another horse.

"I said to myself, that's the spitting image of Kris S.," he said.

It did not take long for Murphy to discover that Sabre d'Argent, the horse who caught his eye, is by Kris S., and he is a half-brother to Padua Stable's successful young stallion Exchange Rate.

Murphy learned Sabre d'Argent was a Grade 3 winner in England as a 3-year-old. In fact, Sabre d'Argent had won 3 of 4 starts and finished third in the other. The dark bay colt had a hoof injury that kept him idle as a 4-year-old. In 2005, when Murphy first laid eyes on him, Sabre d'Argent, then 5, had won his reappearance. But, his hoof problem had not fully healed.

This past spring at the age of 6 Sabre d'Argent was repatriated and made his American debut in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy Handicap, finishing third. His future, however, was as a stallion, and Murphy was ready to deal.

Going to the dogs - in style

Murphy has a close relationship with Demi O'Byrne of Coolmore. These two plus several happy hour comrades were having a few pints and talking about horses and deeds at a pub in Ocala. A neighbor of Murphy joined the party. The neighbor, Glen Alder, heard them telling what seemed to him to be tall tales. Alder breeds and raises greyhounds on the property that abuts Elangeni Farm. It wasn't long before the comrades began swapping greyhound and Thoroughbred stories.

"After hearing my neighbor's stories of the money to be made in racing greyhounds and being in the syndication business, I asked Glen how we could get some of this easy money," said Murphy.

Alder, Murphy relates, told them that he would sell the produce of a bitch who was about to whelp a well-bred litter.

"It cost me $1,250," said Murphy.

Soon Murphy became godfather to five pups. B.B. Becool became the litter champ, and he has handsomely rewarded a syndicate of Ocala horse people that Murphy subsequently put together. Next month B.B. Becool figures to be one of the main contenders for the $250,000 Super Bowl World Challenge at Hollywood Greyhound Track near Gulfstream.

The Murphy syndicate has yet to see any of its greyhounds compete, but if B.B. Becool makes it to the final round of the Super Bowl championship, there will be a busfull of horsemen leaving Ocala and they will be going to the dogs.