03/14/2002 1:00AM

Value inflated in foreign exchange


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Surely there's no better way to increase a stallion's success than to send him far, far away. For instance, Afleet was sold to Japan and immediately had a flurry of stakes winners. Following his sale to Japanese breeders, Forty Niner had not only more stakes winners but also a classic winner and led the national sire list by earnings. Doyoun went to Turkey and since has had two winners of the Breeders' Cup Turf, as well as European champions.

Clearly, the Japanese have profited mostly in acquiring horses soon to be more successful, but there's a reason they buy such horses. They perceive them as value, while the North American market has taken a different view.

So it was with Dehere, who was sold to the Japanese Bloodstock Breeders' Association in October 1999 and stands on the island of Hokkaido at the association's Shizunai stallion station.

Dehere's sons and daughters just had a great weekend, especially in New Orleans. Take Charge Lady won the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks impressively by five lengths over the Salt Lake filly Lake Lady and Chamrousse, by Peaks and Valleys. Then the following day, Repent had to work hard to defeat the Dehere colt Easyfromthegitgo in the Louisiana Derby. In addition, Ironman Dehere won the Black Mountain Handicap at Turf Paradise on the same day as the Fair Grounds Oaks.

Dehere, a son of leading sire Deputy Minister, was the juvenile champion of 1993, when he won the Grade 1 Champagne and Hopeful. The following year, he won the Fountain of Youth before an injury eventually brought about his retirement. At stud, Dehere, a very strong and attractive horse, was one of the most popular young stallions in the country, and his sales progeny reflected the buyers' enthusiasm. Precocity is a great attraction to market breeders, not only because it usually means the horse's stock will be progressive yearlings but also because it offers buyers a chance to get a quick return, then come back and buy more.

So, considering his promise of early maturity, speed, and muscular good looks, Dehere was a very popular stallion in Kentucky and in Australia, where he shuttled annually. The stallion appeared to thrive with the activity, siring nearly 600 foals from five crops. With his first runners, he was one of the leading freshmen sires in 1998 and had repaid his owners, the Coolmore group, rather handsomely.

But when the offer came from the Japanese in the fall of 1999, Dehere was languishing somewhat. He did not appear to be the likely successor to Mr. Prospector or Deputy Minister. And, when the Japanese make offers, they tend to be too good to refuse.

So Dehere shifted his tack to Hokkaido. The next season, his daughter Belle du Jour won the Golden Slipper in Australia, making him the leading sire of juveniles in Australia, and the stallion's star in North America, far from being set, is burning more brightly than ever. Dehere has sired 34 stakes winners to date, and last year, a 2-year-old from his next-to-last crop of American juveniles sold for $1.05 million at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's March auction of 2-year-olds in training.

Take Charge Lady herself went through the sales ring at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July sale of selected yearlings, bringing $175,000 from Ken McPeek, buying for the Select Stable of Jerry and Feye Bach. That was a very good sale, since the filly's breeder, William Schettine, had purchased Felicita, an unraced daughter of champion sprinter Rubiano, for only $42,000 at the Keeneland November sale when the mare was carrying Take Charge Lady.

Take Charge Lady is Felicita's second foal. Her first is the restricted stakes winner Eventail, a daughter of Lear Fan who won the New York Oaks. Two stakes winners from her first two foals makes Felicita a very promising broodmare, and her third foal, the gray filly Uplifting, sold for $175,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale last year a month before Take Charge Lady proved her worth on the racetrack with a victory in the Alcibiades Stakes.

The mare's first colt is a gray yearling son of Capote, and she produced a filly by Breeders' Cup Mile winner War Chant on Feb. 22. Felicita has been bred back to A.P. Indy.