08/11/2005 11:00PM

Super buyers bid high on Storm Cat colt

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This dark bay colt by Storm Cat sold for a stunning $3.1 million at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - What would a select yearling auction be without a sale-topping colt by Storm Cat? The most commercially accepted stallion in the world, Storm Cat is prized around the world not only as a sire of a high percentage of top-class stakes horses but also as the most desirable sire of stallions.

So when a big, good-looking son of Storm Cat out of a Grade 1 winner comes up for auction, all the long-ball hitters in the sales game give the youngster a very close look.

The Stonerside Stable of Janice and Robert McNair offered just such a yearling at the second session of the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale this week, and the ball went out of the park, as Demi O'Byrne, buying for the Coolmore group, secured the dark bay colt for $3.1 million.

"That was a big hit," said John Adger, racing manager for Stonerside Stable. "We really couldn't be happier with the sale. He's athletic and well balanced, and he's out of the kind of mare we try to buy at Stonerside. He was clearly a nice colt, and everybody was looking at him, but honestly, we didn't expect him to bring that much."

The commercial dominance of Storm Cat as a sale maker cannot be overestimated. He consistently produces the type of sales yearling that the major buyers desire, and he is especially appealing to the two most dominant buyers on the auction scene today: Coolmore and Godolphin.

Those two entities have the immense wealth to compete for the premium lots at the select sales until one or the other decides to pass and go on to the next yearling. For them, money is scarcely the consideration because the goal is to have the very best in the world.

That combination of wealth and determination explains a good deal of the economic volatility one finds at the high end of the yearling sales, as well as for premium juveniles, broodmares, and stallion prospects.

But the demand for sons of Storm Cat and the competitiveness of the international super-buyers were not the only factors in making this colt a sales leader.

The dark bay was a well-grown and upstanding individual with scope and substance. And frankly, he looks quite a lot like his dam, the Ashland Stakes winner Rings a Chime, by Metfield.

The beautifully pedigreed Metfield was by Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew out of the the high-class racemare and producer Inca Queen, by Hail to Reason. Inca Queen was the best racer and producer out of the Citation mare Silver Spoon. A champion at 3, Silver Spoon even won the Santa Anita Derby against colts.

Born when Silver Spoon was 12, Inca Queen was her dam's fifth foal, and Metfield was Inca Queen's 12th foal and third stakes winner.

From perhaps the very best family developed by C.V. Whitney, Metfield has sired a pair of Grade 1 stakes winners: Tipically Irish (Oak Leaf Stakes) and Rings a Chime.

Once her racing career was over, Taylor Made Sales Agency consigned the 5-year-old Rings a Chime to the Keeneland January sale in 2002, when Stonerside purchased her for $800,000. Adger recalled: "The mare was barren when we bought her. We were already quite familiar with her, had looked at her as a racehorse just before she won the Ashland, and had really liked her conformation and speed."

In adding Rings a Chime to the Stonerside broodmare band, Adger said that one of the primary reasons the McNairs liked the mare was "her ability as a racehorse."

"Even though she doesn't have a fashionable pedigree, she is a very good individual, and she has produced the same type," Adger said. "We have a 2-year-old filly by Kingmambo named Regal Chime, and [Rings a Chime] produced a tremendous filly this year by Empire Maker that is one of our very best foals of 2005."

The mare is barren to Storm Cat for 2006.

Although failing to get Rings a Chime back in foal was a disappointment, topping the Saratoga sale with the mare's yearling was a great reward for all the time and effort in producing him.

"Bobby Spaulding and the crew at the farm did a fantastic job preparing the colt and delivering him in peak condition for the sale.," Adger said. "The vets said he had probably as good a throat as any Storm Cat they had seen. He kept his composure throughout the sale, despite being shown continually."

It is a composure that may benefit him in winner's circles around the globe.