07/21/2009 11:00PM

Pinhookers find success with session-toppers

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Anyone feeling blue about the Thoroughbred market after recent declines in the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July select yearling sale might take heart from that auction's two session-toppers. They prove that even in a down market, it's still possible to make money selling Thoroughbreds.

The top price Tuesday, and the sale-topping price for the two-day auction, was $425,000 for a Medaglia d'Oro-Ting a Folie filly that had cost David and Ann Hanley's Whitechurch Farm $85,000 at the 2009 Keeneland January sale. Monday's $400,000 session-topper, and the auction's highest-priced colt, was an even bigger home run for seller Dapple Stud, which paid $37,000 for the son of Birdstone-Slew Smarts at Keeneland January.

Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum bought both yearlings at Fasig-Tipton.

The 2009 classic season helped both horses. Birdstone sired Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird and Belmont winner Summer Bird, and Medaglia d'Oro's outstanding runners included Kentucky Oaks and Preakness-winning filly phenom Rachel Alexandra.

"We were quite thankful Birdstone had the spring he did," said Dapple Stud's Mike Akers said. "Certainly, he did the work instead of us. If I'd have been smarter, I'd have bought more Birdstones. But we were very fortunate. This was a nice colt."

Akers said it wasn't just the colt himself that gave him the confidence to resell in a down market.

"The guys that bred him, Bob Sliger and Billy Tillery, are top horsemen, and coming off their farm I knew he'd had the best of everything," Akers said. "And he was a big, rangy colt who looked like he stood over a bit of ground and might be a two-turn horse. The Birdstones looked like the farther they went, the better they got."

Whitechurch Farm owner David Hanley, who topped the 2008 Fasig-Tipton July sale with $375,000 Ash Zee, said he went to Keeneland January looking for a resale prospect.

"When this filly walked out of the barn, she just struck me," Hanley said of the Medaglia d'Oro filly bred by B.M. Kelley. "She had that beautiful head and outlook. I liked her carriage and the way she walked out of the barn to you. I thought she was so classy, and I think there is an awful lot of Northern Dancer about her."

In fact, Northern Dancer is her paternal great-grandsire and appears twice in the fifth generation on her dam's side. Her third dam's sire is Nostrum, a half-brother to Northern Dancer.

"Obviously, Medaglia d'Oro has done what nobody could really have anticipated," Hanley said. "We got lucky that the stallion got as good as he has done."

Gift turns into $370,000 sale

Warrendale Sales sold the sale-topping Medaglia d'Oro-Ting a Folie filly, but another Medaglia d'Oro filly in its consignment had an even closer connection to Warrendale. Hip No. 471, a daughter of Peridot that brought $370,000 from Twin Creeks Racing, was bred by Warrendale bloodstock associate Bert Welker.

Welker joined Warrendale earlier this year after four years as general manager at Stonewall, where Medaglia d'Oro stood until June. The farm then sold its majority interest in the stallion to Darley Stud. When Welker started work at Stonewall, owners Richard and Audrey Haisfield gave him his choice of the farm's sires to breed to.

"It was basically a gift from Richard and Audrey," Welker said.

Peridot slipped her first pregnancy to Medaglia d'Oro, but Welker tried again successfully in 2007.

"He gave her some size, gave her a big walk, that presence, and a great mind," Welker said. "And how lucky am I that it was a filly? If it had been a colt, it might have been maybe half of that amount. It's a blessing."

George Washington filly set for sale

The world's only George Washington yearling, a filly out of the French-bred Rainbow Quest mare Flawlessly, will come to auction at the Tattersalls October Book 1 yearling sale. That sale takes place in Newmarket, England, from Oct. 6-8.

The bay filly is a half-sister to U.S. Grade 1-placed Flawly and to French Group 3 winner Ombre Legere, both of which went on to become good producers in their own right. Flawly's son Best Name is a Group 3 winner in France who was runner-up in the Group 1 French Derby in 2006, and Ombre Legere is the dam of the Japanese Grade 3 winner Germinal.

The George Washington filly sold last year for 280,000 euros (about $397,600 at Wednesday's exchange rate) at the Goffs November foal sale in Ireland, making her the highest-priced foal sold in Ireland that year. Glidawn Stud owners Gerry and Patricia Burke bought her.

English and Irish champion George Washington stood for a single season at Coolmore before being returned to training in 2007 due to infertility. He fatally broke down during the running of that year's Breeders' Cup Classic.