07/06/2003 11:00PM

Sunday Silence colts sell high in Japan

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - A $2.79 million colt from the last crop of the great Japanese stallion Sunday Silence topped Monday's opening session at the Japan Racing Horse Association's select foal sale.

Shadai Farm, the Hokkaido stallion station that stood Sunday Silence until his untimely death last year at age 16, sold the brown colt to Fusao Sekiguchi for 330 million yen, or $2,791,878. Sekiguchi, a flamboyant Japanese entrepreneur, owned 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus.

The session-topper is out of Seto Flowerian, an Australian-bred Bellotto mare who was a Group 3 winner in her native land. She also was runner-up in the Group 1 Australian Jockey Club Oaks. Her Sunday Silence colt is a half-brother to Japanese Grade 1-placed Tiger Cafe.

The opening session's second most expensive lot was another Sunday Silence colt offered by Shadai. This one, a son of multiple Japanese stakes winner Elizabeth Rose, went to Broodmare Co. Ltd. for $1,082,910. The foal is a full brother to Japanese Grade 2 winners Fusaichi Zenon and Agnes Gold.

But Sekiguchi was the day's most notable buyer. He bought three other lots in addition to the session topper. Those were a $761,421 Sunday Silence colt out of the Seattle Slew mare Seattle Delighter; an $837,563 Kurofune colt out of Sekiguchi's former racemare and multiple Japanese graded winner Fusaichi Airedale; and a $414,552 Afleet colt out of Irish Grade 3-placed Ribot's Secret, by Danehill. Northern Farm sold all three.

The auction was to continue Tuesday.

New facility to showcase retired stallions

There's a new equine retirement facility coming to central Kentucky, and this one will be devoted to pensioned stallions.

Michael Blowen, president of the new charity Old Friends, said Monday that a farm by that name is in the works on 35 acres that formerly was part of the Roach family's Parrish Hill Farm in Midway, Ky.

Blowen, the Roach family, and Hopewell Farm owner Rick Trontz developed the idea for a facility to house some of the breeding business's pensioned stars. The plan, Blowen said, is to make Old Friends a comfortable spot for the stallions as well as a tourist destination for racing and pedigree fans.

"If we are able to get some famous stallions, it could be great for tourism here," Blowen said. "We'll make it a place for retired Thoroughbreds in general, but we'll concentrate on getting stallions."

Blowen said that the group has been contacted by Kim Zito, wife of trainer Nick Zito, who is working to bring 1991 Kentucky Derby winner Strike the Gold and 1993 Derby winner Sea Hero back from stallion duty in Turkey.

"It would be great to have horses like that here," Blowen said.

Old Friends supporter Tony Moreno - a member of the Midway city council and an employee of Kentucky's Department of Agriculture and Tourism - also is putting together a tour program that will spotlight Midway's farms. Called the Midway Thoroughbred Heritage Tours, the program tentatively is set to begin in the spring, and Blowen said a portion of its profits will go to support the planned Old Friends retirement farm.

"Eventually, Old Friends should be self-sustaining," Blowen said. "Over the long term, we'd like it to generate enough money to help support some of the horses that didn't earn as much money as famous stallions do, the horses in programs like the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, ReRun, and Tranquility Farm."

Old Friends will host its first fundraiser on July 23 at Hopewell Farm in Midway. The party and a silent auction will run from 7 to 11 p.m. and will feature entertainment by comedian Frank Santorelli, who plays the bartender on HBO's popular show "The Sopranos." Tickets are $200 and include an autographed copy of photographer Barbara Livingston's book "Old Friends: Visits with My Favorite Thoroughbreds," the inspiration for the new facility's name.

Colonial Affair moving to Argentina

Grade 1 winner Colonial Affair, who has been at stud in Japan since 2000, has been purchased privately by New York-based owner John Berendt and Argentina's Haras El Paraiso. The 13-year-old Pleasant Colony horse will leave Japan on July 8 for permanent stud duty at Haras El Paraiso, according to Virginia-based agent Carlos Moore, who brokered the deal. Colonial Affair will be syndicated, with Berendt and Haras El Paraiso retaining a majority interest. Colonial Affair will join another American expatriate at the farm, as Behrendt also stands Incurable Optimist there.

Colonial Affair is the sire of Grade 2 winner Ubiquity and 13 other stakes winners, and he has progeny earnings of almost $10 million from five crops to race.

Also on the plane with Colonial Affair will be 20-year-old Southern Halo, who is returning permanently to Haras la Quebrada after shuttling during Northern Hemisphere seasons to Coolmore and Ashford studs.