11/07/2007 1:00AM

Riggio buying high and low at sales

EmailLEXINGTON, Ky. - Barnes & Noble chairman Leonard Riggio has been on a buying spree at both the Keeneland November sale and the earlier Fasig-Tipton November auction held last Sunday. At Fasig-Tipton, he purchased 11 horses in the name of his My MeadowView Farm for a combined $2,345,000. He was even more aggressive at Keeneland, buying five mares for $9,705,000 at the Monday and Tuesday sessions. Riggio's Keeneland purchases, as of Wednesday, were led by $4.2 million Island Sand, Tuesday's session topper, who sold in foal to A.P. Indy; $3.2 million Kamarinskaya, in foal to Kingmambo; and $1.9 million Winds of March, also in foal to Kingmambo.

The multimillion-dollar purchases grabbed most of the headlines, but Riggio steadily has been acquiring less expensive breeding stock this week, too. His Fasig-Tipton acquisitions ranged in price from $50,000 to $1.1 million for Appealing Zophie, and seven of them cost less than $100,000.

The reason for such broad buying, said Riggio's agent, Lincoln Collins, is because Riggio is building his breeding program on two fronts.

"He's planning to build a very high-quality broodmare band, probably with around 10 mares, with the primary intention of racing at the top level," said Collins, who added that Riggio was not intending to delve much in commercial breeding. "The whole family enjoys racing very much. The program is a classic program, with mostly middle-distance horses."

But Riggio has bought most of the less-expensive mares with a specific aim of supporting his horse Noble Causeway at stud. Riggio paid $1.15omillion for Noble Causeway at the 2003 Keeneland September yearling sale, and the Giant's Causeway colt - one of Riggio's first runners - went on to become a Grade 1-placed racehorse with trainer Nick Zito. He will enter stud in 2008 at Crestwood Farm, where he will stand for $5,000, and Riggio is eager to breed to him.

"He believes in Noble Causeway, as we all do on the team," Collins said of Riggio's commitment to the young horse's book. "Noble Causeway probably will have the best chance a horse at that level could ever have. He's putting his money up to show that we really believe in the horse, and we're not done at all buying mares for Noble Causeway."

Indeed, by 6 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, Riggio had dipped into the market for four more mares, including the graded producer Gold Plum, in foal to Forest Wildcat, and Fire Slam's dam, Miss Firefly, in foal to Officer. Riggio bought each for $140,000.

Among Riggio's new mares pointing for a date with Noble Causeway is $500,000 Tax Refund, a two-time stakes winner by Artax. Riggio bought the mare, a 5-year-old with earnings of $317,782, from the Bluewater Sales agency at Fasig-Tipton.

Riggio boards his mares in Kentucky.

Four mares sell for at least $600K

In its third day, the Keeneland November mixed sale stayed bullish, if no longer in world-record territory.

By 6 p.m. the day's highest price was the $610,000 that Stonestreet Stables paid for Hip No. 923, Ravish Me, a 9-year-old Wild Again mare in foal to Forest Wildcat.

A trio of mares sold just below that level at $600,000 earlier in the day. The first was Hip No. 608, the Deputy Minister mare Top of the Class, who brought a $600,000 final bid from Thor-Bred Stables. Crestwood Farm, agent, sold the 5-year-old mare in foal to Tiznow. Lane's End Bloodstock also paid that for Hip No. 770, the Songandaprayer mare Golden Silk, in foal to First Samurai. Hill 'n' Dale, agent, sold Golden Silk. And, late in the day, Hip No. 935, Russian Lullaby, offered in foal to Elusive Quality, also brought $600,000 from Frankfort Park Stud; Lane's End, agent, was the consignor.

The afternoon's third-highest price showed that weanlings are in demand, too. Hip No. 896, a Hennessy filly from the same consignment that sold Monday's world-record $10.5 million mare, Playful Act, was the session-leading weanling at $550,000. Frankfort Park Farm purchased the daughter of Polar Bird, by Thatching, from Swettenham Stud (Hill 'n' Dale, agent).

The Wednesday market, traditionally a middle-market affair, was outperforming many buyers' and consignors' expectations.

"It's fantastic," said Headley Bell of Nicoma Bloodstock, whose clients include Lael Stables. "It's strong at the top and it's trickled down to the middle. Most sellers are very satisfied, and buyers are slightly frustrated but appreciate what it is. There's no question the currency exchange is playing a significant factor in the process."

But there had been no million-dollar horses yet to add to the impressive tally of 39 millionaires sold at the auction's first two sessions on Monday and Tuesday.

Swelled by the $10.5 million purchase by Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum, the Monday and Tuesday sessions produced gains in gross and average price, though median lagged. Through Tuesday, Keeneland had sold 380 horses for $178,499,000, a 19 percent increase from last year's aggregate for 342 horses. The cumulative average of $437,646 was up 7 percent from last year. But the $250,000 median was down by 9 percent. Even with the decline in median, the two-day buy-back rate was a low 20 percent, indicating consignor satisfaction with the market.

Keeneland's November auction, which cataloged a record 5,415 horses, continues through Nov. 19.

Simon Pure to stand in Florida

Graded-placed Simon Pure, a son of two-time champion Life's Magic, has retired to stud at Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds in Ocala, Fla., where he will stand for a $5,000 fee in 2008.

A 4-year-old Silver Deputy ridgling, Simon Pure placed in Churchill's Grade 3 Northern Dancer Breeders' Cup Stakes in 2006 and the Grade 2 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga this year. He retires with earnings of $274,382 from 3 wins in 15 career starts

* Bwana Charlie, whose first crop are weanlings this year, will relocate from Sequel Stallions in Orange Lake, Fla., to Journeyman Stud near Ocala for 2008. His fee will remain $6,500, the same as in 2007. Bwana Charlie is a 6-year-old son of Indian Charlie and the Halo mare Shahalo.