12/11/2003 12:00AM

Silver Deputy goes platinum


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The brief but lucrative history of the Delta Jackpot shows that horsemen follow the money. The stakes is run at Delta Downs in Louisiana with a $1 million purse but without the distinction of a grade next to its name. That is certain to change, because the race is one of the richest in the world for juveniles.

And just as with the immense purses of the Breeders' Cup races, the Garden State Stakes, or the Futurity before them, the prospect of a big return on investment brings the horses.

The winner of this year's second running of the Delta Jackpot was Mr. Jester. He is a son of Silver Deputy, who is perennially among the leading sires in North America. In fact, Mr. Jester was one of two runners by Silver Deputy in the race. Silver Deputy's other starter, Joe Six Pack, ran fifth, earning $30,000.

Mr. Jester and Joe Six Pack are two of Silver Deputy's 14 stakes winners in 2003, along with 10 other stakes-placed horses. In all, the progeny of Silver Deputy have earned more than $5.5 million this year, placing him 11th on the general sire list.

Those figures indicate that Silver Deputy has been one of the best and most consistent sons of Deputy Minister at stud, as well as a horse with considerable commercial appeal.

Along with his sire, Deputy Minister, Silver Deputy stands at the Brookdale Farm of Fred Seitz, with a fee of $40,000 for 2004.

"Given the stud fees on some new and unproven stallion prospects, as well as for some well-established sires, Silver Deputy must be the best stud-fee value in the world," said Rob Whiteley, director of operations for Carl Icahn's Foxfield. "Year after year he keeps coming up with a tremendous number of stakes horses, and he is the kind of stallion who makes it possible for an owner-breeder to participate at the highest level, yet also insuring their probability of profitability. He probably should have been called Platinum Deputy."

At sales, yearlings by Silver Deputy in 2003 averaged $155,000, with more than two dozen sold. Yet, as the sale of Mr. Jester demonstrates, the market for yearlings is a precarious place.

Mr. Jester, who is his sire's leading earner this year with $730,800, was dismissed by bidders at the Keeneland September yearling sale a year ago, bringing only $25,000. Consigned by Lane's End, agent for breeder Watts Humphrey's Shawnee Farm, Mr. Jester was a muscular and well-balanced colt typical of his sire. He was not, however, especially big, and the sales market is merciless about selecting for precocious development, both in muscle and in size.

"There was nothing wrong with him," said Andrew Hughes, assistant manager of Shawnee Farm, explaining the colt's modest sale price. "We sell all our colts each year, and he was just one who fell through the cracks."

Every marketplace has inefficiencies, and the horse sales are no exception. But inefficiency was opportunity for Eisaman Equine, which bought the colt and pinhooked him for $75,000 in the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's April sale of 2-year-olds in training.

Racing for Kaaren Biggs, Mr. Jester has earned nearly 10 times his juvenile purchase price and will be trained with the Kentucky Derby as his long-term goal for 2004.

Mr. Jester has made an increasing amount of money for his connections with each trade, and it won't be long until Shawnee gets some payback. It won't come directly from the colt but from the appreciation of his siblings and close relatives.

"We've got a lot of that family here, including the dam, Future Pretense, and the colt's older half-sister by Storm Cat," Hughes said. "Future Pretense is a nice, big mare whose Saint Ballado weanling filly is lovely, and she is back in foal to Golden Missile on a March 29 cover."

Future Pretense is a large, scopy mare typical of her sire, Fappiano, and she showed very good form over a distance of ground. Although she didn't win a stakes, Future Pretense was second in two Grade 1 races, the 1993 Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama. Mr. Jester is the mare's fifth foal.

Future Pretense showed promise as a producer with her first foal, the Storm Cat mare Cyber Cat.

"She's a very nice mare, big but not gross or anything, and her oldest foal is a yearling [filly by A.P. Indy]," Hughes said.

Although her career was limited to three starts, Cyber Cat won two of them. "She was cut out to be a very nice horse," Hughes said. "[She] is well put-together and attractive."

Between Cyber Cat and Mr. Jester, Future Pretense produced the stakes-placed Pote (by Capote), a foal who died, and the unraced 3-year-old Power of One (by Touch Gold).