09/18/2002 11:00PM

Three siblings make for big day in Big Sky country

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Tiny Yellowstone Downs in Billings, Mont., was the site of a big victory last Sunday for breeders Larry and Sheila Ullman. Or, rather, three victories.

Three full siblings that the Ullmans bred from a $4,000 mare won races on Yellowstone's Sunday card.

"I don't care where they do it, it's an exciting thing," Sheila Ullman said. "I doubt that's ever happened before, three full siblings winning on the same day."

The winning threesome - 2-year-old gelding Rene's Last, 4-year-old filly Bold Philosopher, and 5-year-old mare Princess Rene - are all by Bold Badgett out of Rene Descartes. All are homebreds for the Ullmans, who also owned the sire and dam.

Larry and Sheila Ullman, who live near Pleasanton in northern California, weren't at Yellowstone to witness the unusual hat trick, and they didn't know it had happened until trainer Dale Bagnell called them with the news.

"We had no idea they would do that," Sheila said. "The 2-year-old was a June foal making his first start, and this is like the third string up there. But there's always a good place for a horse to run, if you have them with good people who will take care of them. If you take care of the horse, he'll bring home the bacon for you."

Rene Descartes certainly did that for the Ullmans. They bought her in 1982 at a northern California yearling sale for $4,000.

"She was a pretty, pretty chestnut, and we called her the Pasta Queen because she was a chubby little thing," Sheila said.

A daughter of Cartesian, Rene Descartes never won a race, but she produced stakes winner I've Got a Choice when mated to another Ullman-owned stallion, He's Our Native. She also produced stakes-placed Renes Bold One, by Bold Badgett.

Unfortunately, the three siblings at Yellowstone represent the last of their kind. Rene's Last was the final foal for the mare, who developed Cushing's disease and was euthanized in late 2000 at age 19.

Bold Badgett, an unraced Damascus horse, died in August 2001 when he broke a leg after surgery to correct a badly arthritic knee. His legacy continues in his 11 crops to race, including current Grade 2 winner Disturbingthepeace. But the stallion's loss at age 16 was an especially hard blow both to the Ullmans and Old English Rancho. Old English Rancho stood Bold Badgett and also boards about 20 mares for the Ullmans. The Ullmans have about 14 foals from his final crop.

"He is sorely missed," Sheila said. "He was one of those horses that would wink at a mare and she'd get pregnant. And he had the best temperament.

"We bred him to Rene Descartes because we felt that, conformation-wise, he'd improve her. He did that with so many mares; the foals come out nice and correct. In this case, the offspring did better than either of the parents, and that's what you hope for as a breeder."

Thunder Gulch had record year

Ashford Stud stallion Thunder Gulch was North America's busiest Thoroughbred stallion in 2001, according to statistics issued by The Jockey Club. Thunder Gulch, whose fee climbed to $80,000 this year, covered a 2001 book of 216 mares - a record book size for a Thoroughbred stallion in North America, according to The Jockey Club's published breeding statistics. That blows past last year's leader, Tale of the Cat, who covered 176 that season.

The Jockey Club, which on Thursday issued a report of North American breeding activity based on 2002 live foal reports received by Sept. 9, put Thunder Gulch's live crop this year at 133 reported foals. Another Ashford stallion, Honour and Glory, is second on the live-foal list with 131 reported foals this year from 192 covers in 2001.

The Jockey Club statistics reveal that 4,445 stallions covered 63,793 mares in North America during the 2001 breeding season. Earlier this year, The Jockey Club predicted a 2002 foal crop of 35,600, a prediction that looks close to fulfillment with an estimated 90 percent of live foal reports in.

The Jockey Club also reported that the number of active stallions in North America decreased by 2 percent from the 4,554 covering mares in 2000. The number of mares reported bred dropped by less than 1 percent.

Kentucky leads the nation in breeding activity with 20,598 mares bred to Kentucky stallions in 2001. Those mares have produced 11,697 foals reported so far in 2002. The figures show a 15 percent decline from the 13,693 Kentucky-sired live foals reported in 2001; much of the decline is believed to be because of mare reproductive loss syndrome, which caused a wave of abortions in 2001.

Two champions to relocate

A pair of champions, Real Quiet and Lit de Justice, will take up new residences for the 2003 breeding season.

Former 3-year-old champion Real Quiet, winner of the 1998 Kentucky Derby and Preakness, will move from Vinery in Lexington to Taylor Made in Nicholasville, Ky.

Real Quiet, a 7-year-old son of Quiet American and Really Blue (Believe It), is on Southern Hemisphere stallion duty in Australia. Plans call for him to arrive at Taylor Made in late December. ClassicStar, the stallion's owning syndicate, moved the stallion to Taylor Made after Vinery declined to continue managing him. Vinery also announced this week that it would seek relocation for Sandpit, Indian Charlie, and Lord Carson.

Lit de Justice, champion sprinter of 1996, will move from Adena Springs in Kentucky to Magali Farms in Santa Ynez, Calif. Rich and Gaby Sulpizio, owners of Magali, announced that they had privately purchased Lit de Justice.

Now 12, Lit de Justice has sired stakes winners No Parole, Sir Edwin Landseer, and Lit a Fire. He is by El Gran Senor out of stakes winner Kenmary, by Kenmare. Magli has not yet announced a fee.

Keeneland hits day 10

A pair of $60,000 yearlings led Thursday's 10th session at the 12-day Keeneland September yearling sale, as of 4 p.m. Halvorson Bloodstock paid $60,000 for a Partner's Hero-Out of a Cannon colt from Charlton, agent for Welcome Here Farm. Later, Von Flew paid the same amount for a Fantastic Fellow-Cliff Lake colt offered by Four Star Sales, agent.

Through Wednesday, the sale's gross was down 18 percent to $202,984,100 for 2,287 lots sold; the average price was down 23 percent to $88,756; and the median was down 7 percent to $42,000.