03/09/2007 12:00AM

Sometimes chicken, other times feathers

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Mike and Britt Mulligan's Leprechaun Racing was among the many pinhooking operations doing business at this past Tuesday's Fasig-Tipton Calder auction of 2-year-olds in training. For the record, Leprechaun Racing cataloged 10 pinhooked 2-year-olds to this sale, representing a yearling investment of $1,429,000. Two of these were not sold and three more had to be scratched, leaving five which brought bids of $1,325,000. The two listed as unsold cost a total of $305,000. If you factor in the ancillary costs from yearling purchase to 2-year-old in training sales time, it doesn't require a CPA to determine that this past Tuesday was not a profitable afternoon for Leprechaun Racing investors.

"The competition for upper-middle-priced yearlings is getting tougher and tougher," said Mike Mulligan, who was philosophic with regard to Tuesday's results. "The 2-year-old market is still strong, but you need everything to work out."

By working out, Mulligan meant the need for his sales prospects to show athleticism in the presale under-tack shows with no subsequent physical problems.

"Pinhooking is a risky business," he said.

Mulligan's marketing plan is, however, evolving.

"I am getting more and more into the breeding end of the business - that is breeding for the 2-year-old market," he said. "We have 22 mares now, and I am adding one or two each year."

This is an alternative way, according to Mulligan, to assure himself of a steady supply of yearlings to sell in the 2-year-old markets should the upper middle end of the yearling market continue to inflate beyond his comfort level.

Leprechaun Racing, says Mulligan, will send its mares to those stallions who he believes will make good 2-year-old sales sires. He cited Pomeroy (Cloverleaf Farm II), D'Wildcat (Vinery), Peace Rules (Vinery), and Closing Argument (Sequel Stallions) as four stallions he is breeding to in 2007.

"In essence," Mulligan said, "I am trying to do, in part, what Ocala Stud has successfully done."

Leprechaun Racing has consigned 16 2-year-olds to the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s March sale

Juvenile sales continue

Rounds 3 and 4 of the scheduled six rounds of Florida 2-year-olds in training auctions are the Adena Springs sale on Monday, March 26, and the OBS sale, Tuesday and Wednesday, March 27 and 28.

The Adena Springs under-tack shows are Wednesday, March 13, at 8:30 a.m., and Sunday, March 25, at 8:30 a.m.

The OBS under-tack shows, four in all, begin Friday, March 16, and continue on March 17, 23 and 24, all with a 9 a.m. starting time.

Little Everglades time

The annual one-day Little Everglades Steeplechase Festival at Little Everglades Ranch, off U.S. Highway 301, just north of Dade City, Fla., will open to the public at 9 a.m. this Sunday, March 11. The racing card has a 1 p.m. first post and the program includes four hurdle events and two flat races - all over Little Everglades's spacious turf course. During the morning and afternoon hours, there are all sorts of family events and exhibitions.

Admission is $15 per person, $60 for a carload. The proceeds this year have been earmarked for Diabetic Charitable Services, Quantum Leap Farm Inc., and the Pioneer Florida Museum.

Late arrivals should be aware that an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 may be on hand, depending upon the weather.