10/31/2003 12:00AM

Where a good horse can shine


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Kentucky's fall breeding stock auctions begin Sunday night at Fasig-Tipton, where a small but select catalog is highlighted by a strong group of broodmares, including the dams of Golden Missile and Graeme Hall.

Fasig-Tipton's selected fall mixed sale, which has 101 entries this year, enjoyed solid financial returns last year. Though small, the auction has developed a niche for sellers, said Fasig-Tipton chief operating officer Boyd Browning.

"It gives people the opportunity to showcase a horse," he said. "It's easier to work a catalog of 100 horses than one of 4,000 horses."

The most obvious stars this year shine among the broodmares, and there are several who could ring up gaudy prices. Win Crafty Lady - dam of millionaire Graeme Hall,

Grade 1 winner Harmony Lodge, and some high-priced select sale yearlings - is on the auction block and will sell in foal to Giant's Causeway. Santa Catalina, the Cure the Blues mare who produced Grade 1 winner and $2 million earner Golden Missile, is also on offer.

Among prospective broodmares is the 5-year-old Unbridled's Song mare Extend, a stakes winner and earner of more than $430,000. She also is the perfect example of the opportunity Fasig-Tipton's November sale offers sellers: The chance to be the big fish in a small pond. Extend might have been overlooked at Keeneland, but here she is one of the sale's most conspicuous entries.

The horses-of-racing-age category has just 11 entrants. The most accomplished so far are 3-year-old filly Ruby's Reception (by Rubiano), a Grade 2 winner with more than $350,000 in earnings; the 5-year-old stakes-winning mare A.P. Andie (Star de Naskra), who has a bankroll of more than $262,000; and 5-year-old graded-stakes-placed Freefourinternet, with more than $216,000 in earnings.

The weanlings feature an Aptitude half-brother to Grade 1 winner Four on the Floor; a Forest Camp filly out of Grade 3 winner You'renotlistening; a Grand Slam half-sister to $453,000 earner Ruskin; and a Twining half-sister to Grade 3 winner Natural Nine.

Last year, champion Xtra Heat went through the ring and was bought back at $1.7 million before ultimately selling privately the following day to ClassicStar for $1.5 million. Officially an RNA (reserve not attained) at the end of the auction, Xtra Heat didn't contribute to the sale's financial returns, which were nonetheless healthy for its small catalog. The single-night auction had a $610,000 sale-topper in Above Perfection, another ClassicStar purchase. It sold 36 of 75 lots for a gross of $3,499,500, up 2 percent. Median climbed 15 percent to $60,000, while average dipped slightly, falling by about $500 to $97,208. But the solid numbers were marred by a hefty 52 percent buyback rate.

"I think people were very selective about weanlings last year," Browning said, "and I think they'll have a little more confidence in that sector this year because of the strong performance of the yearling sales in 2003. In general, people are more confident approaching the November sale this year than they were last year."

The Nov. 2 Fasig-Tipton fall mixed sale begins at 7 p.m. Eastern at Newtown Paddocks in Lexington.