05/13/2004 11:00PM

Records are in danger at Fasig-Tipton

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The Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sales are one facet of Maryland's Thoroughbred industry that continues to spiral to new heights of success. And it's hard to recall as much excitement as surrounds this year's edition of the 2-year-olds in training sale, scheduled to start at 10 a.m. Monday at the sales pavilion in Timonium. Expect to see sales records fall at the two-day sale, which features a weighty catalog of 631 2-year-olds.

"Overall, the quality of this sale is better by 25 percent or more than any sale we've had before," said Mason Grasty, Fasig-Tipton Midlantic's executive vice president. Interest in this sale has come from all across the country.

"There is a true national market. I think if the right horse is here, the sales record is in jeopardy. We could sell a half-million-dollar horse at this sale."

Quality runners have come out of this sale over the years, many at bargain prices - such as Eclipse Award winner Xtra Heat, who sold for $5,000 and earned $2 million, and, most recently, this year's Preakness starter Water Cannon, a $37,000 purchase. That's publicity money can't buy.

A year ago, Read the Footnotes (by Smoke Glacken) topped the sale, bringing $320,000, the third-highest price for a 2-year-old at public auction in Maryland, just $40,000 shy of the record. The bay colt, who recorded a three-furlong workout (33.20 seconds) believed to be the fastest at the distance in the history of Timonium, has since become one of the top 3-year-olds of his generation. In addition to winning this spring's Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes, he was a multiple graded-stakes-winning juvenile in New York last fall.

Among the 2-year-olds being offered this year are offspring of freshman sire standouts Fusaichi Pegasus and Giant's Causeway. Quality extends to the end of the catalog, with a Gone West filly scheduled to be the last to go through the ring.

In the catalog are two by Elusive Quality, sire of Smarty Jones, and three by Distorted Humor, sire of Funny Cide. Among the nation's top 20 sires represented are El Prado, Grand Slam, Alphabet Soup, and last year's sales-topping sire, Smoke Glacken. Both Alphabet Soup and Smoke Glacken are graduates of this sale.

The first under-tack show, conducted over Timonium's half-mile track on Thursday, saw a Golden Missile filly (Hip No. 69), out of the stakes-winning Norquestor mare Requesting More, zip three furlongs in 33.20 seconds, equaling the mark set by Read the Footnotes. Other bullet works of the day were 21.20 for a quarter-mile by Hip No. 143, a Double Honor filly out of Star of Bali (by Star de Naskra), and an eighth in 10.20 for Hip No. 50, a filly by Maryland's leading freshman sire, Lion Hearted, out of Proper Lassie (by Topsider). The second under-tack show was conducted Friday.

Maryland sires have traditionally ranked among the top 10 by average for this sale, and will be strongly represented once again.

Two Punch, the state's perennial leading 2-year-old sales sire, has nine cataloged, including Hip No. 220, a filly out of Wednesday's Child (by Storm Cat), who recorded a work of 10.40 on Thursday.

Allen's Prospect and Polish Numbers, two of Maryland's leading sires who died in recent years, have a number of juveniles listed - Allen's Prospect with a sales-topping 12, and Polish Numbers with five. Not for Love, Maryland's leading sire in 2003 and thus far this year, has four in the catalog.

Other stallions standing in Maryland with 2-year-olds in the sale are Appealing Skier, Carnivalay, Citidancer, Crypto Star, Diamond, Eastern Echo, Larrupin', Meadow Monster, Ops Smile, Outflanker, Partner's Hero, and Yarrow Brae. Maryland freshman sires Lion Hearted, with five, Crowd Pleaser (4), Unbridled Jet (2), and Secret Firm (1) are also represented.