02/05/2002 12:00AM

Saint Ballado colt brings top price of $500,000

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - A standout in a small catalog that produced a sales-record average of $114,395, a $500,000 Saint Ballado colt bought by James "Mattress Mac" McIngvale was the top seller Tuesday at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's select 2-year-old auction at Calder Race Course in Miami.

The one-day auction, cut by withdrawals from its slender 205-hip catalog, sold only 114 lots this year, down from 136 in 2001.

Last year, the auction produced a sale-record price of $900,000 for Max's Buddy, an Irish River colt out of the Forty Niner mare Exposed. That colt, owned by Raymond Dweck, won his maiden by six lengths at Hollywood Park in December.

The 2002 OBSC auction might not have had a record-setter, but the thin catalog helped lift average price, which rose 10 percent from last year's $103,853 to $114,395.

Overall, the 114 lots sold at this year's OBS-at-Calder sale grossed $13,041,000 in revenue, down by 8 percent from last year, when 136 horses brought receipts totaling $14,124,000. Median this year rose by 20 percent to $90,000. The 2002 buy back rate climbed to 35 percent, up from 28 percent last year.

McIngvale, founder of a Texas-based chain of furniture stores, helped make the sale-topping Saint Ballado colt a pinhooking coup for consignor Carl Bowling's Straightaway Farm. Bowling picked up the colt for only $25,000 on the opening day of Keeneland's 2001 September yearling sale.

Nearly a year earlier, at the 2000 Keeneland November sale, Indian Hill Farm had paid Glennwood Farm, agent, $275,000 for the Saint Ballado colt, who was a weanling then.

At the OBS 2-year-old sale's first under-tack show on Jan. 28, the Saint Ballado colt breezed a strong eighth of a mile in 10.40 seconds. He then galloped at the second show on Feb. 3.

The Saint Ballado colt, who sold as Hip No. 106, is a son of the Group 1-placed Danzig mare Magic Gleam. The mare so far has produced two winners, the English winners Absolute Utopia and Touch A Million, both by Mr. Prospector, from seven foals of racing age.

Bob Baffert is expected to train the sale-topper.

Straightaway Farm also sold the sale's second most expensive lot when Harry Benson, acting as agent for John Patitucci, bid $400,000 to acquire Hip No. 142, the auction's only Storm Cat offering. The chestnut colt is out of the Forli mare Refinancing, a half-sister to Italian champion Lonely Bird, and is a half-brother to Grade 2 winner Hal's Pal.

A $360,000 Storm Creek colt out of the stakes-placed Trick Me mare Delicate Rose was among high prices early in the auction. Selling as Hip No. 44, the colt, currently named Storming Anthony, went to New England businessman Mike Gill from the consignment of Hoby and Layna Knight, agent. The Storm Creek colt is the first registered foal for his dam.

Later, Hip No. 127, a Boston Harbor colt sold by Cleveland Wheeler, agent, brought $330,000 on a final bid from Amy Tarrant. Out of the Northern Jove mare Northern Dynasty, the colt is a half-brother to three stakes winners - American Dynasty, Dynasty, and Digital Dan.

Most of the auction's buy backs fell in the $20,000 to $125,000 range, covering a wide swath of the expensive select market's lower-middle to lower level. But the RNA notations - the abbreviation meaning "reserved not attained" that sales companies use to designate an unsold lot - included an eye-catching one for $370,000.

That colt is a son of hot young stallion Valid Expectations, the leading first-crop sire of 2001, and the stakes-winning Peterhof mare Program Pick. That makes him a half-brother to Grade 1 Spinaway winner Stormy Pick and a full brother to Expected Pick, who was a stakes winner last year at 2.

AbraCadabra Farms, agent, purchased the Valid Expectations colt at last year's Fasig-Tipton July sale for $310,000 before consigning him to the OBS sale Tuesday.