01/07/2009 12:00AM

Toussaud, dam of four Grade 1 winners, dies

Barbara D. Livingston
Toussaud, 2002 Broodmare of the Year and one of only four North American-based mares to produce four Grade 1 winners, was euthanized in Kentucky on Tuesday due to declining health.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Toussaud, 2002 Broodmare of the Year and one of only four North American-based mares to produce four Grade 1 winners, has died at age 20.

Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms, which bred and owned the mare, said Toussaud was euthanized in Kentucky on Tuesday due to declining health.

A Grade 1 winner herself, Toussaud went on to produce Grade 1 winners Chester House, Honest Lady, Chiselling, and Empire Maker, as well as the Grade 1-placed and Grade 2 winner Decarchy. Only three other mares have matched that record since North American stakes grading began in 1971: Dahlia, Fall Aspen, and Hasili, another Juddmonte homebred who has produced five Grade 1 winners.

Toussaud developed laminitis in 1995, and although she became sound enough to continue her breeding career, she required particular care, including a special stall with rubber flooring under its straw bedding, and a heating and air conditioning option for extreme weather. A veterinarian also checked her feet weekly.

Noted for physical and mental toughness, Toussaud also survived an impaction that led to colic surgery in 2000.

Toussaud had been retired from the breeding shed for two years and produced her last foal, the A.P. Indy filly Gateway, in 2006. The 3-year-old is unraced.

Toussaud also was famous for her quirky personality. Trained by Bobby Frankel, she was known to stop suddenly in the middle of gallops and refuse to move. She also declined to breeze from a racetrack pole, requiring Frankel to breeze her only from the gate. She passed some of her eccentricity, as well as her strength of character, on to many of her foals.

"She was obviously a great broodmare but was an even more special character with a very unique personality," said the farm statement announcing her death. "Though amazingly stubborn at times, she was never seen to pin her ears or try to intentionally harm anyone or anything. She had a very kind yet powerfully strong and resilient nature that lives on in the competitive juices of offspring of Chester House, Empire Maker, Decarchy, and her daughter Honest Lady."

Toussaud, a daughter of the In Reality mare Image of Reality, produced a total of 10 foals, of which seven started and six were winners.

Toussaud will be buried in the equine graveyard at Juddmonte's Kentucky farm in Lexington.

Yearling sells for $1.4M in Australia

The select yearling sale season got under way Wednesday, not in the United States, but in Australia, where an Encosta de Lago-Surrealist colt topped the opening session at the Magic Millions Conrad Jupiters auction by selling for $1,440,000.

The opening session rebounded from a more subdued showing in 2008, when Australia's first-ever outbreak of equine influenza forced Magic Millions officials to postpone the auction from its traditional January slot to late March. The 2008 opener sold just 84 yearlings. This year's opening day, by contrast, sold 133 horses for about $14,379,120, up 61 percent from last year. The 2009 average of about $108,113 was up slightly, by 2 percent, from last year's average.

The day's buyback rate of 25 percent was one many select yearling sale managers would be satisfied with in today's economy. But it paled next to last year's 18 percent, and Magic Millions managing director David Chester said he considered that increase and the Encosta de Lago colt's comparatively large price - $2 million Australian, almost double the day's second-highest price - warning signs that the 2009 select market was weaker than last year's.

Australian trainer Gai Waterhouse, representing a syndicate, purchased the session-topper from breeder Coolmore Stud. Coolmore's Australian manager Michael Kirwan later told Australia's Racingandsports.com that Coolmore will retain some ownership in the session-topper, a full brother to 2006 Australian champion Racing to Win and a half-brother to Group 3 winner Purrealist. Coolmore's undisclosed stake made the colt's actual price harder to assess, but the official price tag added a bright spot to the sale results in a Thoroughbred economy widely expected to remain conservative at best in 2009.

Figures plummet at OBS sale

The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's January mixed sale continued the Northern Hemisphere's gloomy sales trend with drastic downturns at Tuesday's opening consignor-preferred session in Ocala, Fla. At Wednesday's final day, the open session leader at 5:30 p.m. Eastern was a $33,000 yearling Macho Uno-Dance Kat filly that Diane Moore bought for Darkside Racing. Beth Bayer, agent, was the consignor.

Tuesday's opener saw a 43 percent drop in gross receipts, while average fell 63 percent and median fared even worse, sinking 74 percent. The session grossed $1,450,200 for 143 horses. The average was $8,632, down from last year's $23,346, while the $4,100 median was down from $16,000 last season.

But, in a sign that sellers were prepared to let their assets go, the buyback rate improved from 45 percent last year to 25 percent.

Tuesday's session-topper was an $87,000 Exchange Rate-Social Scene colt that agent Janie Roper sold to Eisaman Equine.