07/07/2009 11:00PM

Sale houses seek word on mare policy

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - American auction houses have asked the Society of International Thoroughbred Auctioneers for clarification of a recent guideline banning the sale of mares 18 years old or older.

The auctioneers' group formulated the guideline in June at one of its two meetings of the year, and the minutes emerging from that meeting have now created confusion, according to representatives of the American auction houses that are members of the organization: Barretts, the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company, Fasig-Tipton, and Keeneland.

The American companies believed they agreed to a policy similar to ones many of them already adhere to, discouraging or barring entry to mares age 18 or older who also are not in foal. The minutes refer to the new guidelines as following the American example, but then describe the new policy as banning the sale of older mares with no mention of their pregnancy status, according to representatives of member companies who have seen the minutes.

"We are trying to get clarification," said Fasig-Tipton's president, Boyd Browning. "It was our understanding that the provision was for mares 18 and older that were not in foal, as opposed to any mare 18 and older."

The issue will likely come up at the auctioneers' group's next membership meeting, but that will not take place until November, a month when catalogs for such major breeding stock auctions as the Fasig-Tipton and Keeneland November sales already are published.

"Keeneland's going to stay with our policy, which is that if a mare is 18 and not in foal, she can't be sold, and if she's barren three consecutive years, she can't be sold," said Keeneland's sales director Geoffrey Russell. "We have, in the past, waived that in certain circumstances. Now we're not going to waive that, except possibly for dispersals.

"I was under the impression that they were following the American guidelines, and they were, but they left out the three words 'not in foal.' As I understood it, the whole idea was to follow the American approach."

A Barretts vice president, Bill Baker, said his company already reserves the right to refuse entry to any mare older than 17, regardless of foaling status, and said that he expects the auctioneers' guidelines to be settled by the next Barretts mixed sale in January.

"Whatever they decide, we'll go the same direction, for sure," he said.

OBS sales director Tom Ventura also said his company would stick to its current policy, which does not ban mares solely because of age, and also is awaiting clarification.

"If the mare is in foal, especially if it is high-profile, I would think it makes sense to be able to offer that at public auction," he said.

Henry Beeby, of the Goffs auction house and chairman of the Society of International Thoroughbred Auctioneers, did not return a call to Goffs seeking comment.

Keeneland revises commission rate

In other sale news, Keeneland has announced it will lower its commission rate on horses who fail to reach their reserves from 4.5 percent to 2.5opercent during the upcoming sale season, starting at the September yearling sale.

The sale company's commission on horses who do reach their reserves will remain the same at 4.5opercent. The policy will hold through the January 2010 all-ages auction, and "commission rates will be reviewed annually following this season," according to the Keeneland announcement.

Keeneland's president, Nick Nicholson, cited the global economic downturn and a sharp slowdown in the Thoroughbred economy as the reasons behind the commission cut. Keeneland last trimmed its commission in 2001, when it went from 5 percent to 4.5 percent.

Jade Hunter pensioned

Jade Hunter, a two-time Grade 1 winner and the sire of the 2002 Horse of the Year, Azeri, has been pensioned from stud duty and has retired to the Old Friends equine retirement facility in Georgetown, Ky.

Jade Hunter, 25, stood for Questroyal at Dutchess Views Farm in Pine Plains, N.Y., for a $5,000 fee.

A Mr. Prospector horse, Jade Hunter is best known for siring Azeri, winner of 11 Grade 1 races and three Eclipse Awards as champion older mare in addition to her Horse of the Year title. But Jade Hunter also sired multiple Grade 1 winner Yagli and Grade 1 winners Stuka and Diazo, among other good racehorses.

A son of Jadana, by Pharly, Jade Hunter won the 1988 Gulfstream Park and Donn Handicaps for the late Allen Paulson and Bruce McNall. The Allen E. Paulson Living Trust, headed by Paulson's children Jim and Vicky Paulson, decided to donate Jade Hunter to Old Friends. He arrived there on Wednesday morning on a van from Morrissey's Horse Pullmans, which donated the trip.

Tattersalls numbers mixed

Princess Haya of Jordan's 3-year-old winner Time Machine, by Halling, topped the second session Wednesday at the Tattersalls July auction of fillies, mares, and horses in training. He sold for approximately $160,598 to trainer Robbie Hennessy. Trainer John Gosden consigned the United Arab Emirates-bred colt. The auction in Newmarket, England, grossed about $2,856,000 for 136 horses, for an average of about $21,000. Those figures were mixed, with the gross falling 5 percent and the average up 8 percent. The median also climbed, by 3 percent to about $12,678.