11/07/2006 12:00AM

Sadler's Wells leaving mark through sons

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Given the impact of the great sire Sadler's Wells on racing and breeding in Europe, he should be equally popular and successful in America.

Historically, that has been the case with stallions who have made an impact in England, France, and Ireland. Nearco, Phalaris, St. Simon, and Hyperion had a strong influence not only on the breeding of Thoroughbreds in Europe but also in America.

Today, however, the increasing specialization of the American commercial market has created a strong bias against stallions like Sadler's Wells and most of his sons. They are identified as turf sires, stallions whose offspring need more time and more variety in distances raced than a Thoroughbred who matures early and can sprint on dirt.

As a result, the commercial marketplace does not value the offspring of turf sires nearly as much as it values the dirt sires, such as those from the competing Northern Dancer line of Storm Cat or from the lines of Raise a Native (primarily through Mr. Prospector) or Bold Ruler (primarily through Seattle Slew).

The most successful son of Sadler's Wells in America is El Prado, who stands in Kentucky at Adena Springs for $125,000. As the sire of 60 stakes winners, El Prado has created a significant place for himself in American breeding and has proven his versatility by siring major stakes winners on dirt and turf, going short and long.

This has given El Prado sufficient cachet among breeders; even his sons have become objects of interest.

El Prado's biggest earner, at more than

$5.7 million, is Medaglia d'Oro, who stands at Stonewall for $40,000. Other top sons of El Prado now entering stud include Breeders' Cup Mile winner Artie Schiller at Hurricane Hall, Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Borrego at Wintergreen, and Kitten's Joy at Ramsey Farm.

Based on El Prado's career and offspring, the sons of Sadler's Wells do have potential as sires in the U.S.

Other prominent sons of Sadler's Wells in the U.S. include Powerscourt, who won the Arlington Million, and Perfect Soul, a Canadian champion who also is a Grade 1 stakes winner in the U.S.

Stallion managers often put in extra effort to promote sons of turf sires. To promote Perfect Soul, Darby Dan Farm, which stands Perfect Soul, and owner Charles Fipke showcased diamonds and celebrities at an event the Wednesday evening before the Breeders' Cup. At an evening of cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, they showed off their glistening bay stallion to an assembly of bloodstock glitterati. Perfect Soul, a well-balanced bay, paraded before the guests on the floodlit lawn. Calm, alert, and full of presence, Perfect Soul is cast in the mold of the miler-type stock of Sadler's Wells, not

greatly different from El Prado.

Film star Bo Derek was the special guest at the event for Perfect Soul. Clad in a black top over a floor-length silver and black dress, She wore about 20 carats of fine diamonds mined from Fipke's Ekati diamond mine in Canada, including a 10.2-carat D Flawless diamond worn in a pendant around her neck.

After watching Perfect Soul on parade, Derek said, "He has such great balance and composure. He really is a star."

As part of the evening's activities, Fipke offered 10 seasons to Perfect Soul for sale, with the proceeds benefiting the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, Galapagos Forever, and the Society for Animal Protective Legislation.

Before turning his attention to racehorses and philanthropy, Fipke made his fortune in diamonds and precious metals, and in a pensive moment, he said that "perhaps Perfect Soul will be my greatest discovery."

"To have a great sire bred on this cross would be just unbelievable," he said.

Fipke also was quick to praise the team that has worked with him throughout the breeding, training, and stud career of Perfect Soul, including trainer Roger Attfield, bloodstock guru Jack Werk, and Darby Dan co-owner John Phillips.

In addition to being a consultant to Fipke, Werk is an internationally known adviser on pedigrees and matings.

"Perfect Soul has outstanding opportunities as a stallion," said Werk. "He is by the great sire of sires Sadler's Wells and is out of a mare by Secretariat, who is the broodmare sire of the most important stallions in America: A.P. Indy, Gone West, and Storm Cat. Furthermore, Mr. Fipke has supported him with a fabulous band of young broodmares that would do credit to any young sire."

"My goal is to make him the next Storm Cat, and there are signs that Perfect Soul is going to be a great success," said Fipke. "Wayne Sweezey has looked at all the foals, and the report was that there wasn't a bad one."

Sweezey is a managing partner at Darby Dan.

Perfect Soul has 103 foals from his first crop, which were born earlier this year. A handful will be offered for sale at the Keeneland November auction this week.

"Perfect Soul's foals consistently exhibit excellent bone, strong quarters, and good size," said Phillips. "In my mind, they have a strong influence of Secretariat's power and balance."

In a couple of years, when the stallion's first foals are nearing the end of their first season of training and racing, we will begin to assess the racing qualities of Perfect Soul's first crop and will have added further data to our perspective on the long-term prospects for Sadler's Wells becoming a dominant factor in American breeding.