04/19/2007 11:00PM

Small breeders score with Dominican


LEXINGTON, Ky. - When Dominican crossed the finish line of the Blue Grass Stakes with his nose in front, he scored a victory for a small breeding operation with strong ties to central Kentucky's Thoroughbred business.

Dominican's breeders, Bradley Purcell and Charles Parker, have been in the horse business together since 1999. But their individual roots in the industry go deeper. Purcell has been a broodmare manager for the past 11 years at Claiborne Farm, and he was practically raised at that famous nursery, where his father, Billy, is a 35-year employee. Parker is a well-known general contractor specializing in farm construction. Purcell and Parker also have a family link: Purcell is married to Parker's daughter Sarah.

Neither Purcell nor Parker had ever owned horses before. But in 1999, the pair bought their first broodmare from Claiborne's consignment at the Keeneland November sale.

"We bought her for $20,000 and sold the yearling for $25,000," Purcell said. "That's what got us started.

"I'm a poor boy, so I couldn't just race," he added with a laugh. "It costs too much to race them. So we breed to sell."

At Parker's 96-acre Barak Farm near Paris, Ky., the partnership now has eight mares. They bought Dominican's dam, the stakes-placed Dixieland Band mare First Violin, for just $43,000 as a broodmare prospect in 2002.

"I guess we were in the right place at the right time," Purcell said. "You couldn't buy a stakes-placed Dixieland Band mare for that anymore."

Parker and Purcell selected El Corredor as a mate for First Violin in 2003, partly because he was a second-year sire and partly because he fit their $10,000 to $20,000 stud fee budget.

"If you breed to sell, there's not as many strikes against you breeding to a first- or second-year horse," Purcell explained. "We looked at him and liked him."

Purcell wasn't present at Dominican's foaling, having his duties at Claiborne. The job fell to his mother-in-law, Pam Parker, a self-professed town girl who has fallen in love with her full-time work at Barak Farm.

"Some foals are feisty, and some are just ornery," said Parker, 53. "Dominican was pretty well-behaved. He didn't try to bite you or kick you. He was really pretty calm."

"He was a little small, so I wasn't overly impressed, but he was healthy and okay, so we thought he just needed some time," Purcell said.

Dominican was still on the small side when Barak Farm sold him for $37,000 as a yearling at Keeneland's 2005 January sale.

"He didn't look like an athlete at the time," Purcell said.

Following Dominican through the ring that day was First Violin, whom Parker and Purcell sold to agent Jun Park for $60,000, in foal to E Dubai.

"It's like this," Parker said. "When it's a seller's market, we sell. You can't look back and wish you'd done it differently."

First Violin's son Dominican eventually sold for $150,000 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. March 2-year-old sale, and it wasn't long before his new owners, Tommy and Bonnie Hamilton of Silverton Hill Farm, called to inquire whether Parker and Purcell still had First Violin. Purcell said that was his first indication that Dominican might be something special.

"We had five foals in his crop," Purcell said. "He was the smallest of the five, and he's been the biggest runner of the five. It's hard to imagine."

Parker says she still sees the foal she knew in the now-mature Dominican.

"He looks a lot like the mare, and he seems to have a good disposition like she did," she said. "He has a lot of heart when he runs. If you're going to stalk the leader, you're going to get dirt in your face. Nothing seems to bother him."

Purcell and the Parkers liked what they saw in the Blue Grass. Now they're all planning a trip to the Derby, where, as Pam Parker put it, "The rest of the story remains to be told."

Results mixed at Tattersalls Craven

The Tattersalls Craven 2-year-old auction results looked very much like an American juvenile sale's at the end of selling Thursday in Newmarket, England. The two-day auction had a sale-record juvenile filly at 370,000 guineas, or about $777,000, but the results overall were mixed.

The auction sold 213 horses, slightly more than the 206 sold at last season's record-setting auction. But this year, the buyback rate was 37 percent, up from 16 percent last year. Gross fell 18 percent, average held almost level with last year at approximately $153,913. Median showed a healthy 10-percent increase to about $115,500.

American consignor Kip Elser sold the sale-topping Quiet American-Laiyl filly to Gill Richardson, agent.

Precise End filly goes in 10.20

Hip No. 352, a Precise End-Dashing Fashion filly, breezed an eighth-mile in 10.20 seconds Thursday as the fastest worker at the under-tack preview for the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s April 2-year-old sale.

The show was the second of four days of under-tack previews for the auction, set for Tuesday through Friday in Ocala, Fla.

Thursday's fastest quarter-mile breeze time was 21.40 seconds, shared by three horses. They were Hip No. 497, a Yonaguska-Frankie's Lady colt; Hip No. 645, a Wiseman's Ferry-January Angel colt; and Hip No. 677, a Trippi-Karon's Dream colt.

Hip No. 373, a Deputy Commander-Diamond Emblem filly, had Thursday's fastest three-eighths-mile work of 33.80 seconds.

The under-tack previews continue through Saturday.

Full brother to Barbaro born

A full brother to the late 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro was born April 19 at John and Alice Chandler's Mill Ridge Farm in Lexington.

Barbaro's dam, La Ville Rouge, produced the bay Dynaformer colt at 2:08 a.m. Thursday. Both mare and foal are doing well, according to a release issued Friday morning by the farm.

Barbaro was euthanized Jan. 29 due to complications from his May 20, 2006, breakdown in the Preakness Stakes.