08/28/2008 11:00PM

Sales look to international buyers


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The United States and European economies might be in the doldrums, but other racing nations have economies that are solid or thriving, and that could mean some good news for consignors at Keeneland's September yearling sale, which runs Sept. 8-23 in Lexington.

Eastern Europe and South America in particular could provide active buyers this year, especially for the Keeneland sale's non-select second week, says Chauncey Morris, a Keeneland sales marketing associate with extensive experience dealing with overseas markets.

"I think we'll have quite a bit of participation this year from Eastern Europe," said Morris. "The Russian economy is faring well right now. And, simply put, American horses have done very well there."

The Russian preference will likely be for dirt performers with speed-oriented pedigrees, Morris said, because currently there is no turf racing there, and the emphasis is on speed.

Interest in racing extends beyond Russia to the former Soviet republics, which could emerge as key markets.

"Places like Kazhakstan, the Ukraine, and the Czech Republic, I think we'll start hearing more from them as their economies start to expand and hopefully racing starts to expand," Morris said.

Economic expansion and growth in racing already is boosting South American participation at U.S. Thoroughbred sales.

"From Mexico to Brazil to Argentina, even Uruguay and Peru, they've had 5 percent growth or more in their GDP," said Morris. "We've had a great deal of interest, as far as yearling buyers are concerned, from Argentina and Peru. Argentina's racing and breeding industries are doing very, very well. . . . They're racing for some excellent purses at Palermo, the racetrack in Buenos Aires. That's due to slots. Across the river in Uruguay is similar, also due to slots. Peru has posted 7 to 8 percent annual growth in their GDP, and some American horses like Tomcito and Deepak have captured some limelight."

Tomcito, winner of two Group 1 races in Peru and third in this year's Florida Derby, cost just $7,500 at the 2006 September sale. Deepak, also a Group 1 winner in Peru, was a $12,000 purchase in 2005.

Keeneland has sent representatives including Morris around the globe this year, and their travels have indicated that expansion is possible in such areas as Eastern Europe, Peru, and East Asia, where general economies are strengthening and racing is either developing or breaking down barriers to ownership or competition. While those markets might not provide many buyers at the uppermost level at Keeneland's two select sessions on Sept. 8-9, they can make the difference between a sale or a buy-back for lower-priced yearlings selling later in the auction.

"Globalization didn't only occur here and in northern Europe, it's occurred everywhere," Morris said. "In Latin American, for example, you used to have great racing industries that were confined to their own countries. But now they've started to branch out and compete amongst each other. That's good news for everybody, and any expansion is always going to be felt here."

Strawberry Reason dead at 16

Strawberry Reason, the 16-year-old dam of 2002 champion juvenile Vindication, was found dead in her pasture on June 29, according to Anna Colombo of Payson Stud.

"She apparently died of a head injury that happened in the field," Colombo said. "It was a shock."

Payson Stud owner Virginia Kraft Payson bred and owned Strawberry Reason, who died 10 days before Vindication's death at age 8. The stallion, who stood at Hill 'n' Dale Farms in Lexington, was euthanized on July 8 after developing an intestinal rupture.

Strawberry Reason, who was boarding at Stone Farm in Paris, Ky., at the time of her death, had a yearling A. P. Indy filly and a 2008 Unbridled's Song filly foal. She was carrying an A. P. Indy foal who would have been a three-quarter-sibling to Vindication.

Payson bred and raced Strawberry Reason. A Strawberry Road mare, she won the 1995 Martha Washington Stakes, a Grade 3 race, and placed in three other stakes. She earned $153,226 from 4 wins and 4 placings in her 17-race career.

Vindication was Strawberry Reason's third foal, following the winner Holy Reason and maiden Berry Blessed. After Vindication, Strawberry Reason produced Grade 3 winner Scipion, Grade 2-placed Blackberry Road, and Japanese stakes-placed True Reason.

Colombo said Payson plans to keep the mare's 2007 A. P. Indy filly but has not yet decided whether to keep or sell the 2008 Unbridled's Song daughter.

"They are two very nice fillies," she said.

Owens of Cobra Farm named year's best

Mike Owens, manager of Gary Biszantz's Cobra Farm in Lexington, has been named Farm Manager of the Year by the Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers Club, the group announced Friday. The award honors excellence in farm management and service to the club and community.

Owens, who also owned Cornerstone Stable, raised Old Trieste, Sinister Minister, and Ifyouprefersilver, among other noteworthy runners. Owens will be honored Oct. 10.

* Keeneland Productions and HRTV will broadcast the first two sessions of the Keeneland September yearling sale live on Sept. 8 and 9 beginning daily at 10 a.m. The entire sale, from Sept. 8-23, will be available live on Keeneland's website at . The website coverage will include a second stream during the select sessions on Sept. 8-9 featuring commentary. The auction will be dark on Friday, Sept. 12.