09/02/2004 11:00PM

Ontario yearling sale features high-profile stallions' offspring

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Some of the best Canadian-bred runners in 2004, including Prince of Wales and Breeders' Stakes winner A Bit O'Gold, are graduates of Ontario's annual sale of Canadian-bred yearlings. There are 529 chances to find a potential star at this year's auction, which starts Tuesday.

"We came within a half a length of selling a Triple Crown winner," said Glenn Sikura, president of the Ontario division of the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society, referring to A Bit O'Gold's loss in the Queen's Pate.

Sikura, whose Hill 'n' Dale Sales Agency sold A Bit O'Gold, on behalf of breeder Les Pereira, for $60,000 at the 2002 auction, said this year's catalog is comparable, if not slightly stronger, than books from recent years.

"There's no reason you can't find a good horse here, and there's less competition to buy them than if you go south of the border," said Sikura.

The sale is currently on a two-year streak of an increase in average price. In 2003, the sale realized a 2 percent hike in yearling average following a 16 percent increase in 2002.

In addition to A Bit O'Gold, the local sale has provided Ontario racing with 2004 stakes winners My Vintage Port (last year's champion 2-year-old filly), Touchnow (Bison City Stakes), Barath, Twisted Wit, Barbeau Ruckus, and promising 2-year-old filly Bosskiri. Most of those graduates will be in action in Sunday's yearling sales stakes extravaganza at Woodbine and siblings of many of them can be found in this year's sale.

Stallion power is the most notable aspect of this year's catalog. High-profile American studs with yearlings scheduled to sell include Deputy Minister. Hip No. 130, for example, is a bay colt by Deputy Minister out of stakes winner Barbed Wire. Also represented are the stallions Stravinsky, Theatrical, Smart Strike, Gulch, Lemon Drop Kid, and Crafty Prospector.

A Bit O'Gold's sire, Gold Fever, has one yearling in the sale, a filly out of stakes producer Regents Signet, offered by Longview Farms.

Sires with their first crop of yearlings up for auction include local studs Perigee Moon, One Way Love, Not Impossible, and Trajectory. First-crop American stallions represented include the popular Forest Camp, Albert the Great, Five Star Day, and Flame Thrower.

Canada's top three leading sires, Bold Executive, Whiskey Wisdom, and Kiridashi, are also well represented.

Most of Ontario's leading breeders and consignors have entered yearlings in this year's auction, with some of the larger consignments being offered by Gardiner Farms, Hill 'n' Dale, Richard Hogan, Susan Foreman, Windfields Farm, and Woodlands Farm.

The CTHS is returning as the sales operator after a two-year run by Fasig-Tipton Sales Company, but must move the sales from the Woodbine pavilion in two years due to space restrictions on the Woodbine backstretch.

Sikura said the CTHS has been actively considering properties in the southern Ontario region to set up a sales facility.

"We're still hard at it," said Sikura. "There is a magnificent property in Guelph that we're seriously looking at. But we're still a long way off."

Tuesday's selected session, made up of 286 yearlings, gets under way at 1 p.m., followed by two open sessions on Friday and Saturday that begin at 6 p.m. Ryan Mahan and Associates, Inc. will auctioneer the sale.