06/03/2007 11:00PM

Sale details unknown


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Darley's private deal to acquire the breeding rights for Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense and runner-up Hard Spun has prompted a great deal of speculation in central Kentucky as to price and terms. But verifiable facts on either subject are thin on the ground, thanks to a confidentiality clause in the contract Darley and the horses' owners, Jim Tafel and Rick Porter, have signed for Street Sense and Hard Spun, respectively.

Porter did tell the Louisville Courier-Journal that he had retained some breeding interests in Hard Spun, but Tafel demurred, citing the confidentiality agreement, when asked the same question. Based on the recent history of stud agreements - deals worth tens of millions, followed by the horse's rapid retirement - it is likely both runners will retire at the conclusion of the 2007 racing season. Porter had hinted at that while the negotiations were ongoing, and a person familiar with the Street Sense agreement confirmed Sunday that the colt would head to stud in time for the 2008 season, which begins in February.

Otherwise, any information regarding the contracts' terms, including whether the rumored ballpark prices of $50 million for Street Sense and $20 million for Hard Spun are true or even close, is veiled under the clause. That could become more common if stallion prices continue to rise, says bloodstock advisor Ric Waldman, who manages the high-profile stallion Storm Cat.

"I think they've become the norm," Waldman said of confidentiality clauses. "Probably, it became more in vogue as dollar amounts got higher, and since then it's been included as attorneys' boilerplate wording that carries through from deal to deal, whether it's $500,000 or $50 million."

Even so, some, including Waldman, say they're surprised by how much the confidentiality clause appears to cover in the Street Sense and Hard Spun deal.

"I don't know what purpose this shroud of mystery accomplishes," said Michael S. Brown, a bloodstock advisor. "I understand not wanting what money you paid for a horse to get out. But the rest, whether the original owner stayed in and when the horse retires, that seems ridiculous. Why cover it up?"

The reasons, owners and stallion buyers say, can range from a simple desire for privacy to a desire to conceal information from business competitors. Waldman, who said he too was surprised that the horses' retirement plans were covered by the confidentiality clause, added another possible reason.

"Maybe the buyer is sensitive to the public outcry against early retirement," he said. "But I don't think that's necessarily going to be in tomorrow's boilerplate language."

"I think it's good because it's a private deal," Tafel said. "There's no need to publicize it. We're not a public company, and neither are they. So that's the way we both wanted it. But I do think if a horse is syndicated, it should be disclosed."

Hard Spun's owner, Rick Porter, agreed. He added that the complexity of some stallion deals, which commonly include an array of conditional items like bonuses if a horse wins a Grade 1 race, can make the deal subject to change.

"I think it's very common," he said of confidentiality clauses. "People like privacy. And, from a buyer's perspective, they might not want the competition to know what they paid for a horse."

Whether broad confidentiality clauses become the norm elsewhere, they are standard at Darley, chief operating officer Dan Pride said.

"With every stallion deal we've done, meaning acquiring a third-party stallion, we have had the same clause," Pride said. "That includes Rockport Harbor, Consolidator, Offlee Wild, they've all had the same clause. So it's not a new clause. It's included really for the protection of the seller and the buyer. It protects the buyer in terms of being able to conduct business privately and not having every aspect of how we're approaching each deal publicized.

"There's not a cookie-cutter formula for these deals. There are some nuances based on ownership that will change the terms of the deal or the complexity of the deal based on who we're buying from. It's important for our operation to be able to protect how we approach those deals, so we don't have someone saying, 'I know you did this for X and this for Y.' We can maintain flexibility."

Gypsy Dancer sells for $1.25 million

Gypsy Dancer, whose weanling colt by Redoute's Choice set an Australian weanling record when he sold last week for $1.15 million Australian, topped Monday's opening session at the Magic Millions national broodmare sale on Australia's Gold Coast. Gypsy Dancer, in foal again to Redoute's Choice, brought a bid of $1.5 million Australian, or about $1,251,299 in U.S. terms, on a final bid from Coolmore Stud.

Coolmore also was the buyer of Gypsy Dancer's record weanling last week.

Gypsy Dancer is an 11-year-old daughter of Dance Floor who already is the dam of Australian Group 1 winner Dance Hero, Australia's champion juvenile in 2004.

Coolmore also purchased the session's second-highest-priced mare, Private Steer, the Australian champion 3-year-old filly of 2003, for $1.4 million Australian, or about $1,167,879 in U.S. values.

The session, the first of five, sold 174 horses for about $22,395,755, resulting in an average of about $128,711. The gross was up 77 percent from last year, when 135 horses sold, and average rose 38 percent.