10/07/2004 11:00PM

State's first $500,000 auction sale


If last week's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale is any indicator, there is still plenty of life left within Maryland's breeding industry.

The two-day auction (Oct. 4-5) at Timonium set records in nearly every category, and was topped by a Maryland-bred colt by Silver Deputy who brought $500,000 - the first auction horse ever to reach the half-million-dollar mark in Maryland.

The average rose 20 percent, as 493 yearlings sold for $10,791,500, averaging $21,889. The median ($12,000) was a 26 percent increase over last year's figure. With 37 more horses sold this year than in 2003, the percentage of buy-backs was significantly lower (22 percent vs. last year's 25 percent).

Maryland-bred and Maryland-sired horses were in demand. Of the nine horses, all colts, who sold for $100,000 or more, seven were foaled or conceived within the state. Not for Love, Maryland's leading sire, accounted for three of the yearlings in that group, including the second-highest-priced horse in the sale, at $210,000.

Not for Love was far and away the sale's leading sire, with 14 of his offspring selling for $967,500 (average $69,107). Next, by gross, came Maryland sire stalwarts Allen's Prospect (23 sold for $688,000, average $29,913) and Two Punch (13 sold for $675,500, average $51,961).

Among those exulting in the sale's Maryland flavor was longtime local horseman Don Litz, who sold the sales-topper as agent for Joseph Keelty, a Baltimore-area real estate developer who has bred and raced horses in Maryland for about 20 years in the name of Dumbarton Farm.

"We have always believed in the Maryland market," said Litz, who noted that the sale-topping colt, out of the Seattle Slew mare Dreams of Glory, was accepted for the Saratoga sale. "I truly believe he sold better here than he would have anyplace else."

Litz, who now is bringing a major new operation, the Maryland Stallion Station in Glyndon, into reality, purchased Dreams of Glory on Keelty's behalf at the 1999 Keeneland November sale for $275,000, in foal to Unbridled's Song. The Unbridled's Song filly, Dreamy Song, brought $120,000 as a yearling at the 2001 Eastern fall sale.

Maryland's first half-million dollar baby was foaled and raised at Shamrock Farm in Woodbine, Md., under the care of farm manager Jim Steele, and prepped for the sale by Laura Delozier, who operates her own business at Sagamore Farm.

"Laura had been saying this colt was special," said Litz. "He was raised like an athlete at Shamrock, in a 50-acre field with other colts. You can see in his pictures that his tail was partly chewed off. But all the stars lined up with this one. Seven veterinarians said he had perfect X-rays, and perfect scopes."

The talk of the sales ground in the days leading up to the auction, the sales-topper sold as Hip No. 455 in the middle of the second day, and prompted a bidding war between Buzz Chace, one of this auction's perennial leading buyers, and agent Mark Reid.

Reid made the successful bid on behalf of an eight-member partnership assembled by himself and trainer Tony Dutrow. As Dutrow explained it, the group has spent a total of $2.8 million on 14 yearlings, the others purchased at Keeneland, and he intends to race them all with himself as the trainer.

Until recently based in Maryland, Dutrow now maintains stables in Delaware, New York, and at Philadelphia Park. "We'll get this colt started in Ocala or South Carolina, and then he'll go [to whichever division] he belongs," said Dutrow.

That his partnership was forced to spend $500,000 did not faze Dutrow. "We were going to buy him," Dutrow said. "The partnership had plenty of money, and this is exactly the type of horse we wanted. Obviously he's an outstandingly athletic individual, and he has the pedigree to be a stallion if he's a good enough race horse."

Timonium's previous auction record was set at last spring's 2-year-olds in training sale by a Silver Deputy filly who brought $450,000. Until then, the record was held by a Dehere filly sold for $400,000 at the 1998 Eastern fall yearling sale.