08/11/2006 12:00AM

Saratoga filly a big score for Empire Maker

Hip No. 146, an Empire Maker filly, topped the select sale at $1.6 million.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - The top-selling lot at the Saratoga select yearling auction that concluded on Wednesday was a bay filly marked as Hip No. 146. The filly's sale for $1.6 million was a major success for her sire, Empire Maker, whose first foals are yearlings, and for breeder Diane Snowden, who bred the Saratoga sales leader from her stakes-winning broodmare Sluice, who had been a seven-figure sales yearling herself.

The results at Saratoga were wholly encouraging for the Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker, a top-class son of Unbridled.

Juddmonte Farms bred and raced Empire Maker, and he is the best son from their outstanding broodmare Toussaud, a daughter of El Gran Senor who was a Grade 1 winner on the racetrack and has produced five graded stakes winners, four of whom won at the premium level of Grade 1.

Juddmonte stands Empire Maker and has had great hopes for the handsome bay, especially as his sire has gained increasing credit as a sire of stallions, with such sons as Unbridled's Song and others.

Juddmonte's farm manager, Garrett O'Rourke, said that having a sale topper at Saratoga was "the start you hope for from your stallion. He did everything right as a racehorse, and now as a stallion, he keeps taking each step as it comes, and the final question is how they will perform on the track."

If the offspring of Empire Maker perform to their looks, they will show quality and classic scope.

"The sale-topping filly is very representative of his stock: a big, scopey filly with a great walk," O'Rourke said. "She was an absolutely gorgeous filly, and both the sale topper and the colt who made $550,000 the first day were very much the Empire Maker type. They have size from Unbridled, as well as quality. The majority that I've seen are very like Empire Maker."

Bred in Kentucky at Snowden's Falls Creek Farm and consigned to the Saratoga auction through Denali Stud, agent, the sale topper is out of stakes winner Sluice, who is by Claiborne stallion Seeking the Gold out of the grand racemare Lakeway. A daughter of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, Lakeway won four Grade 1 stakes, including the Santa Anita Oaks, Hollywood Oaks, and Mother Goose.

Lakeway is out of the Alydar mare Milliardaire, who was unbeaten in two starts. More important, Milliardaire is a full sister to Saratoga Six, winner of the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity, and a half-sister to Dunbeath, the highweight juvenile colt in England in 1982, when he won the William Hill Futurity and other important races.

Milliardaire and her siblings are out of the Irish Castle mare Priceless Fame, a full sister to champion Bold Forbes, who won the Kentucky Derby and Belmont during his championship campaign.

Bold Forbes really returned the classic luster to this famous family, which traces back to Kentucky Oaks winner Nellie L. (by Blenheim); her dam, the high-class stakes winner Nellie Flag (American Flag), who started as the favorite in the 1935 Kentucky Derby but was fourth to Triple Crown winner Omaha; and Nellie Flag's dam, Nellie Morse (Luke McLuke), who won the 1924 Preakness.

Just as Bold Forbes accented the family line with speed and championship quality, his sister Priceless Fame put the family back in the vanguard of sales acceptance.

After producing Dunbeath as her first foal and having her third foal sell for seven figures at Saratoga in 1983, Priceless Fame sold to Joseph Morrissey for $3.2 million at the Keeneland November sale of that year while carrying her fourth foal, Milliardaire. The impact of Priceless Fame's third foal, Saratoga Six, was so immense that the bay mare resold to Sheikh Mohammed in foal to Seattle Slew for a record $6 million at the 1984 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall mixed sale.

Saratoga Six had sold at Saratoga in 1983 for $2.2 million, and the bay son of Alydar won all four of his starts in 1984 before his retirement due to an injury.

The chestnut mare Milliardaire, Saratoga Six's full sister, is the third dam of this year's Saratoga sale topper.

A homebred for Michael Rutherford, Lakeway is the second foal of Milliardaire, and Sluice is the second foal of Lakeway. Rutherford sold Sluice for $1.5 million at the Keeneland July sale in 1999, when she was the highest-priced yearling of the year by her sire.

After a successful racing career, Sluice retired to stud in Kentucky, producing her first foal last year. With the Saratoga sale topper, the beat goes on for this family with outstanding athletic ability and commercial appeal.