07/30/2004 12:00AM

Saint Ballado's offspring fast as ever


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Victory in the Coaching Club American Oaks has confirmed Ashado as the most consistent filly of her crop in the filly classics of 2004. Winner also of the Kentucky Oaks, Ashado won the Spinaway at Saratoga last year and was second to the sidelined champion Halfbridled in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

The dark brown filly is trained by Todd Pletcher for owners Starlight Stable, Paul Saylor, and Johns Martin. Bred in Kentucky by Aaron and Marie Jones, Ashado sold for $170,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale in 2002. The CCA Oaks victory was the seventh win in 11 starts for the daughter of Saint Ballado, and she now has earnings of $1.6 million.

Ashado is out of Goulash, by Mari's Book. Goulash has a 2-year-old named Storm Creek Rising. The colt has won once from two starts this year. This year, Goulash produced a full brother to Storm Creek Rising, both by the Storm Cat stallion Storm Creek, and she is in foal to Unbridled's Song.

Goulash's yearling is a full brother to Ashado, and he is from the last crop of their sire, the Halo stallion Saint Ballado.

The sire of 47 stakes winners, Saint Ballado died Oct. 20, 2002, at age 13, and his last crop of yearlings will go through the sales this year.

A stallion's final offspring - like the last crop of yearlings sired by champion Unbridled, which went through the sales last year - present a two-edged sword for breeders and consignors.

On the one side, the last yearlings have a certain cachet. They are the last of the line, the final opportunities to acquire yearlings by an important sire. On the opposing side, the stallion typically has been gone from the breeding scene for two years by the time his last yearlings are offered for sale. Especially in terms of advertising and public awareness, a dead horse tends to disappear.

Taylor Made Farm, which stood Saint Ballado, has tried to compensate for that lack of visibility. Byron Rogers, director of stallions at Taylor Made, said that Taylor Made has "continued promoting the horse as part of our responsibility to clients and continues to offer support to the breeders and consignors who bred to the stallion by maintaining information on him and his progeny on our web pages, and also by alerting buyers and their agents of the significance of Saint Ballado's final crop."

Saint Ballado has nine yearlings in the Saratoga select yearling sale, along with 34 scheduled to go in the Keeneland September sale. At Saratoga, Saint Ballado has yearlings out of such mares as million-dollar winner Irish Linnet and stakes winner D'Youville Nurse, also the dam of graded stakes winner Unbridled Hope.

At the September sale, among the more intriguing lots sired by Saint Ballado are a colt out of Grade 1 winner Classy Mirage and a filly out of Grade 1 winner Donna Viola; a half-brother to Council Member (by Seattle Slew), who ran second in the Group 2 July Stakes for 2-year-olds earlier this month, and a half-brother to unbeaten champion Vindication (also by Seattle Slew); and the first foals out of Arlington-Washington Lassie winner Thunder Bertie and multiple Grade 1 winner Golden Ballet.

Mares of this quality came to Saint Ballado over the course of time. A good runner but not a great racehorse himself, he had to earn them.

From his first crop, conceived on a stud fee of only $2,500, Saint Ballado began to sire top-class racehorses. In the stallion's first crop was Captain Bodgit, who won the Grade 1 Florida Derby. That high-end start to his stud career, coupled with a stallion's pedigree - by leading sire Halo out of the exceptional producer Ballade - earned Saint Ballado a one-way ticket to Kentucky.

A group led by Aaron Jones acquired the stallion and moved him to the Taylor family's Taylor Made Farm near Nicholasville, Ky., in 1997.

From the stallion's next two crops came Grade 1 winners Sister Act (Hempstead) and Yankee Victor (Metropolitan Handicap), as well as Grade 2 winner Straight Man, who also was second in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes. In all, Saint Ballado's nearly four dozen stakes winners include 18 graded or group stakes winners.

Established in Kentucky with a stud fee that rose to $125,000 in the season preceding his death, the near-black stallion became one of the country's leading sales sires. His best year at the sales came in 2001, when his son Warhol was the leading lot at the Keeneland July select sale, bringing $4 million on a bid from Demi O'Byrne.

In contrast, Ashado was a relative bargain at $170,000 the next year, and the high-class filly has proceeded to earn nearly 10 times her purchase price.