01/18/2007 12:00AM

Sheikh buys Stonerside in N.Y.

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Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum has closed a deal to buy the Stonerside property adjacent to Saratoga Race Course. The 106-acre property consists of two barns with a total of 46 stalls and a one-mile training track.

The Albany Times Union, citing paperwork filed in the Saratoga County clerk’s office, stated the purchase price was approximately $17.5 million.

For the last two years, Sheikh Mohammed has leased the property, whose proprietors, Robert and Janice McNair, purchased the land eight years ago. Sheikh Mohammed has used the property for six months each of the last two years to house primarily 2-year-olds he bred or purchased for his Godolphin and Darley Stable racing operations. Bernardini, a finalist for champion 3-year-old male, trained over that track as a 2-year-old.

According to Jim Bell, president of Darley’s North American operation, Sheikh Mohammed plans to convert the conventional dirt main track to a Polytrack surface.

“Those are the plans, but they have not yet been finalized,” Bell said. “We’re getting bids, but this is still subject to final approval.”

Trainers for Sheikh Mohammed, such as Tom Albertrani, Eoin Harty, Rick Mettee, and Kiaran McLaughlin usually get their own barns at Saratoga. Bell said it is possible that some racehorses, and not just unstarted 2-year-olds or lay-ups, could be stabled at the facility this summer.

“We’ll see numbers-wise and what really makes the most sense in the overall racing program that we’re trying to establish,” Bell said.