07/22/2002 12:00AM

Racing loses a top buyer and breeder


LEXINGTON, Ky. - With Prince Ahmed bin Salman's sudden death, the Thoroughbred breeding world lost one of its major players, both as a buyer and as the owner of some of the world's most impressive breeding stock.

Salman was perhaps best known for making splashy purchases at auction. Buying in the name of the Thoroughbred Corporation, he particularly favored the 2-year-old market and was the nation's leading purchaser at juvenile auctions last year with total expenditures of $5,915,000 for 15 horses. Earlier this year at the Barretts juvenile auction in California, he paid $1.9 million for the sale-topping Stormy Atlantic filly now named Atlantic Ocean.

Salman also was a force at the top of the select yearling market, frequently bidding in the $700,000 to $2 million range, and was often found among underbidders on purchases above that level. He ended last year as fifth-leading yearling buyer with 31 purchases for $14,046,381.

But Salman didn't just buy horses. He also bred them, and his stallion holdings and mare band included a handful of the sport's most successful racehorses. The breeding program began in the second half of the 1990's but already had produced major winners in 2001 Horse of the Year Point Given and all-time leading filly-mare earner Spain.

At the time of his death, Salman had substantial interests in the Thoroughbred breeding business in central Kentucky, most notably in three syndicated stallions: Point Given at Three Chimneys, 1999 juvenile champion Anees at Mill Ridge Farm, and Grade 1 winner Royal Anthem at Hopewell Farm.

Salman also had interests in other stallions, including Skip Away, Lear Fan, Supremo, Gold Fever, Devil His Due, and Fantastic Fellow.

Point Given, syndicated last year for a total initial valuation of $50 million, entered stud in 2002 with a $125,000 fee, making him the year's most expensive first-year stallion. Anees stood this year for $15,000, and Royal Anthem stood for $10,000. The three stallions are syndicated, and it is unclear at this point what will happen to Salman's interests in them; if those interests have not been distributed in Salman's will, it is possible that his shares could be placed in a trust from which shares and seasons could be sold to generate income.

Salman and the Thoroughbred Corporation also owned more than 60 mares and foals. Those include all-time leading female earner and 2000 Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Spain, Grade 1-winning millionaire Sharp Cat, and Point Given's dam Turko's Turn.

The mares and foals are divided among Mill Ridge in Lexington, Hopewell and Three Chimneys in Midway, and Lane's End in Versailles. Plans have not been finalized, but that bloodstock is expected to sell in a dispersal at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale.

Salman's interest in breeding Thoroughbreds was a natural extension of his racing program and began with the retirement of his Grade 1 winner Sharp Cat to Dr. and Mrs. John Chandler's Mill Ridge Farm in 1998.

"He was especially fond of Sharp Cat," Alice Chandler said. "She was the first good racehorse he'd ever had, and she loved people. He would always come here when he was in Kentucky to see his horses, and he especially loved to see her."

From that initial involvement, Salman's band of central Kentucky bloodstock grew to about 60 horses. Forty-nine of those mares and foals, including Point Given's dam Turko's Turn, are at Mill Ridge.

Chandler said that Sharp Cat currently has a 2002 Fusaichi Pegasus filly and is in foal to 2001 Horse of the Year Point Given. Turko's Turn has a 2002 Thunder Gulch filly and is in foal again to Thunder Gulch; both of those foals are full siblings to Point Given.

Three Chimneys Farm, home of Point Given, also boards nine broodmares for Salman, according to farm owner Robert Clay. The most notable of those are Spain, recently retired and in foal to Storm Cat, and Grade 2 winner Saudi Poetry, in foal to Point Given.