05/31/2007 11:00PM

Todd's ties to The Tin Man deep-rooted


LEXINGTON, Ky. - When The Tin Man, 9, won his eighth stakes in the May 28 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile, Ralph Todd had occasion to ponder his long association with the gelding and his family.

"Some guy Saturday was sitting next to me and goes, 'How long have you owned The Tin Man?' " Todd said. "I said, 'Since mama plopped him out on the hay.' "

Ralph Todd, 74, and his wife, Aury, purchased The Tin Man's granddam, Dancing Liz, for $30,000 in the mid-1970s, despite having been warned that she was "tiny." She was by Northern Dancer, and Ralph Todd felt that her sire line could turn out to be a good one. He was certainly right about that, as time would tell.

In the meantime, the Todds' tiny Dancing Liz became a decent racehorse, winning a pair of stakes and setting a track record at Fairplex Park when she ran six furlongs in 1:09.20.

She went on to become a good producer, too, as the dam of Grade 2 winner Oraibi and 14 other winners. But Dancing Liz's first filly, a daughter of Tom Rolfe named Lizzie Rolfe, wasn't one of them; she ran only three times and never won. She has more than made up for it by producing The Tin Man.

"She was powerfully built, but very feminine," Todd said of Lizzie Rolfe, who died in 2003 while foaling She's a Rich Girl. "Dick [Mandella] thought she probably could run, but she had some problems. At the time, we weren't having much success with the breeding, either, so I was kind of down at the time. Dick said, 'I'd take her home and breed her.' "

The Todds' luck soon changed. Lizzie Rolfe's second foal was Mama Simba, a seven-time stakes winner by Mamaison. In the meantime, Dancing Liz had also produced the stakes winner Oraibi.

The pinnacle for the Todds has been The Tin Man, who resulted from Lizzie Rolfe's first successful mating with 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed.

"I knew the family was good," Todd said. No less an authority than Olin Gentry, manager of the Galbreath family's Darby Dan Farm in Lexington, had told Todd as much back in 1977 when Todd visited the Bluegrass to look at stallions for Dancing Liz. "He told me, 'Ralph, you've got a gold mine there, a little gold mine. You stick with it. Don't you go to those other farms and listen to the story. Because the story is going to be, 'Mr. Todd, I've got this young stallion who's going to be a big hit. The good stallion you like is booked up, so let's try this one.' He said, 'You tell them to take that up the road and sell it somewhere else.' "

Todd stuck with an established sire he liked when he sent Lizzie Rolfe to Affirmed.

"The more I looked at him, the more I thought, 'How can you beat this?' " he said. "He was from the right sire line and was a quality racehorse. He fit the general idea. When you looked at what he was producing, you know, it's not all about champions. Sometimes you see a stallion who has a couple of big horses but everything else can't outrun me. This is a game of odds. You have to think probability. Affirmed had his big horses and a lot of horses that won a lot of money for the day."

The Todds are amicably separated but continue to own and breed horses together from Santa Ynez, Calif. The mare band is small, consisting now of Mama Simba's daughters Midnight Mama and Call Mama as well as a daughter of Dancing Liz named Ying Ying. The mares' home base is at River Edge Farm in Buellton, Calif.

Todd hopes one of those mares will be a gold mine, too, but he takes nothing for granted.

"Anybody who tells you I thought I could produce a horse like The Tin Man is crazy," he said. "You breed what you think is right, and you hope for the best."

Chesapeake Farm shifts location

Drew Nardiello's Chesapeake Farm, where 2006 juvenile champion and 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense was foaled, has relocated its operation from the north side of Lexington to the south side. Chesapeake, formerly located on Russell Cave Road, has leased 400 acres of Hilary Boone's 1,000-acre Wimbledon Farm on Walnut Hill Road, near Overbrook Farm and Juddmonte Farms.

The farm's new address is 1455 Walnut Hill Road, Lexington, Ky., 40515. Phone and fax numbers will remain the same.

Weanling colt sets Australian record

Australia's Magic Millions National Sale auction series kicked off with a record price on May 30. At the first of two select weanling sessions, the Gold Coast auction sold a Redoute's Choice-Gypsy Dancer colt for $1.15 million (Australian), or about $953,000, an Australasian record. The buyer was Coolmore Australia.

The select sessions grossed approximately $15,894,578 for 429 weanlings. The average was about $37,057. Those figures were down 19 percent and 37 percent, respectively, from last year's record numbers.

The record colt is a half-brother to Australia's multiple Group 1 winner Dance Hero.