09/12/2007 12:00AM

Smart Strike colt early leader in open session

EmailA $700,000 Smart Strike colt provided the early firepower Wednesday at day three of Keeneland's September yearling sale in Lexington, Ky. The session was the first open day after two select sessions.

Dr. Naoya and Marie Yoshida, owners of Winchester Farm in Kentucky, signed the ticket on behalf of an undisclosed buyer. And they were effusive about the colt.

"He was the best Smart Strike in the sale," Marie Yoshida said, adding that she and her husband, a veterinarian and breeder, believe Smart Strike is the most underrated sire standing in North America at the moment, despite the success of his son Curlin.

Robert Courtney's Crestfield Farm consigned the colt as Hip No. 612. The chestnut is out of the Wild Again mare Flashy, whom Courtney's son Robert and partner Ricky Stivers purchased carrying the Smart Strike colt. They paid $420,000 for the mare at the 2005 Keeneland November breeding stock sale.

The Keeneland September yearling sale began on Sept. 10 and will continue through Sept. 25, with a dark day on Sept. 14. Sessions are held each day at the Keeneland sale pavilion beginning at 10 a.m.