08/30/2002 12:00AM

Too few first-crop yearlings hurts sale


Some Thoroughbred industry mavens attributed the decline in sales averages and median prices at the Florida yearling sales Aug. 19-22 to general market uncertainties. While a slumping Wall Street likely has had an effect on the Ocala market weakness, lack of young stallion power is far more likely.

"Not much to choose from," said J.B. McKathan, one-half of the well-known McKathan brothers duo, referring to the dearth of yearlings by first-crop Florida stallions.

"The catalog was somewhat tired," said McKathan, who is in business with his brother, Kevin. "Same old pedigrees, not much new, not much to get excited about.

"There are some nice individuals in these sales. We bought the Halo's Image colt for $200,000. He had solid female support in his pedigree and he looked the part. But too many breeders are just breeding to breed horses. The

2 year-old market has changed the business. Instead of using money to upgrade pedigrees and support better stallions, too many Florida breeders are just breeding and hoping to make a score with a good-looking, good-moving horse at the 2 year-old sales.

"What Florida does not have anymore, or at least not like we used to have, are the money owners; the kind of owners who, like Tartan Farms, built strong broodmare bands and stood successful stallions. Their sales culls were often the foundation mares for somebody else.

"We are building a broodmare band and we have 13 right now. We went to young stallions who, we think, will be important commercially. For example, we bred several of our mares to Padua Stable newcomers Yes It's True and Exchange Rate. We think Yes It's True will make a good 2-year-old sire and Exchange Rate has the conformation, the pedigree, and racing record to make it."

Solid group of first-crop sires

Two of Padua Stable's first-crop stallions will get market tested in the coming Ocala Breeders' Fall Mixed Sale, Oct. 7-11. Dance Master, by Gone West-Nijinsky's Lover, by Nijinsky, won the Grade 2 Bashford Manor Stakes as a 2-year-old. Now a 5-year-old, Dance Master has four weanling colts cataloged.

Yes It's True, the millionaire Grade 1 stakes winner has seven cataloged, two colts and five fillies. Yes It's True will be competing with his sire, Is It True, who will is represented by five weanlings from his initial Florida crop.

Littlebitlively, a multiple graded stakes winning millionaire, is the sire of nine youngsters cataloged. Most are part of the continuing Franks Farms's reduction of Thoroughbred racing and breeding stock. Another familiar millionaire with first foals is Kelly Kip, the Valid Appeal line stallion who won 10 stakes, seven of them graded, for H. Allen Jerkens and Hobeau Farm. Two colts and a filly by Kelly Kip will be offered.

Sean Kelly bought Wycombe House Stud from the estate of the late Georgia Hofmann and then went about the business building a stallion station. Worldly Manner (Riverman- Lady Pastor, by Flying Pastor) was one of the first to seek the Kentucky Derby route by way of Dubai. As a freshman, Worldly Manner won three of his four starts, including the Grade 2 Del Mar Futurity. Why he lost his form preparing for the American classics is uncertain. Three colts and three fillies by Worldly Manor are in the OBS catalog.

Other graded stakes winning stallions with first weanlings cataloged for the October sales are Greenwood Lake, the 1999 Champagne and Remsen stakes winner with two fillies and a colt cataloged; Straight Man, a Grade 2 stakes winner with six fillies and three colts; the multiple Grade 2 stakes winner Successful Appeal is the sire of six weanlings; and the graded stakes winner Wised Up is the sire of 11 get in the October auction.

Without a doubt, these first-crop stallions of 2002 are the best group of Florida stallion prospects since Tartan Farms closed its doors in 1987.