11/01/2002 12:00AM

Will buyers spend for breeding stock?


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The November breeding stock auctions get under way Sunday night in Lexington. In the course of 11 days, Fasig-Tipton and Keeneland will offer more than 3,850 lots, most of which are broodmares and broodmare prospects. Fasig-Tipton holds a one-night selected sale on Nov. 3 at 7 p.m., followed by Keeneland's long run from Nov. 4 to 13, with sessions beginning daily at 10 a.m.

The lots that will grab the most attention are those that will allow buyers to access champion and Grade 1 bloodlines. Among mares on offer are recent Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner Starine (Fr) and her dam, Grisonnante (Fr), 1998 champion grass mare Fiji (GB) in foal to Danehill, and 2001 champion older mare Gourmet Girl in foal to Fusaichi Pegasus, all selling at Keeneland, and 2001 champion 3-year-old filly Xtra Heat at Fasig-Tipton. Xtra Heat's weanling full brother is selling at Keeneland, too.

In light of the recent 30 percent downturn in the select yearling market, the question is whether buyers will spend as much as they have in the past. Top-end commercial breeders may hold on to the slimmer profits they made in the declining selected yearling market earlier this year; if those breeders are conservative, wealthy home breeders or conglomerates like Coolmore could find top offerings for less money than in the past.

But even if the upper crust of the mare market is thinner than usual this year, the market for mares in the $75,000 to $300,000 range may fare better. That's also because of a trend in the recently concluded summer and fall yearling sales, which saw many middle-market sellers do better than their high-end counterparts. Those commercial breeders who did well with their yearlings this season undoubtedly will be looking to upgrade their stock.

But the top of the market remains somewhat unpredictable to consignors and auction officials, who are wary of slippage in the wake of the sharp yearling declines.

Another aspect to watch in November: how young sires' progeny fare. The recent deaths of such notable stallions as Mr. Prospector, Seattle Slew, and Nureyev have left holes in the stallion ranks. Several of those most likely to fill the gap - most notably Unbridled and Saint Ballado - also have died, leaving space for new young sires. This year's November sales feature such sad milestones as the last mares in foal to Saint Ballado, who died in October, but they also feature a raft of weanlings from first-time stallions. Those include Fusaichi Pegasus, Cat Thief, Chester House, Commendable, Behrens, War Chant, Giant's Causeway, Yankee Victor, More Than Ready, Dixie Union, Catienus, Anees, Yes It's True, Straight Man, and Tiger Ridge, to name a few. The prices of their foals, and the value they add as covering sires to in-foal mares, will give an early indication of these stallions' commercial prospects.

With such a large group of horses and so many fine pedigrees, it isn't possible to list all the potential top sellers. But here are some of the more interesting lots, beginning with Keeneland's two select sessions:

* Hip No. 14, Grade 1-winning millionaire Janet (GB);

* Hip No. 20, Grade 1 winner Kalookan Queen;

* Hip No. 23, Key Buy, dam of Grade 1 winner Val's Prince, in foal to Point Given;

* Hip No. 37, Grade 1 winner Lunar Spook, in foal to Deputy Minister;

* Hip No. 39, Lyphard Gal, dam of Grade 1 winner Heritage of Gold, in foal to Unbridled's Song;

* Hip No. 43, an A. P. Indy weanling half-brother to Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies runner-up Platinum Tiara;

* Hip No. 63, Grade 1 winner On a Soapbox, in foal to Danzig;

* Hip No. 87, a full sister to 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos;

* Hip No. 89, champion Spinning World's full sister Ring of Fire, in foal to A. P. Indy;

* Hip No. 100, Salty Gal, dam of Grade 1 winner Mongoose, in foal to Broad Brush;

* Hip No. 108, a Summer Squall half-sister to 1994 Horse of the Year Holy Bull;

* Hip No. 116, Silver Spirit, a full sister to 1997 Derby winner Silver Charm, in foal to High Yield;

* Hip No. 138, Three Flights Up, dam of Grade 1 winner Lazy Slusan, in foal to Fusaichi Pegasus;

* Hip No. 193, Brighter Than Gold, dam of Grade 1 winner Nonsuch Bay, in foal to Hennessy;

* Hip No. 194, Bright Feather, dam of $3 million earner Albert the Great, in foal to Giant's Causeway;

* Hip No. 203, Grade 1 winner Cat's Cradle, in foal to General Meeting;

* Hip No. 208, Christmas in Aiken, dam of Harlan's Holiday, in foal to Forestry;

* Hip No. 235, Diane Suzanne, dam of millionaire Mystic Lady, in foal to Point Given;

* Hip No. 252, Fara's Team, carrying a full sibling to Grade 1 winner Concern;

* Hip No. 283, Grade 1 winner Hookedonthefeelin, in foal to Deputy Minister;

* Hip No. 297, a Fusaichi Pegasus half-sister to Grade 1 winner Chaposa Springs;

* Hip No. 303, a Seeking the Gold half-brother to Grade 1 winner Magic of Life;

* Hip No. 311, a Fusaichi Pegasus colt out of European champion Lyric Fantasy;

* Hip No. 344, Grade 1 winner Nasty Storm;

* Hip No. 411, Strongerthanpride, dam of millionaire Western Pride;

* Hip No. 426, a Saint Ballado half-brother to Startac;

* Hip No. 486, a Tale of the Cat half-brother to champion sprinter Housebuster;

* Hip No. 487, Bless, a full sister to Fusaichi Pegasus in foal to Storm Cat; and

* Hip No. 544, Canadian champion Fantasy Lake in foal to Giant's Causeway.

Some noteworthy at Fasig-Tipton:

* Hip No. 60, multiple Grade 2 winner Disturbingthepeace;

* Hip No. 62, Grade 1-placed stakes-winner Above Perfection;

* Hip No. 66, Dante's Mary, a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Left Bank;

* Hip No. 71, Berry Blessed, a half-sister to Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Vindication;

* Hip No. 92, Sheepscot, a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Vicar; and

* Hip No. 96, Grade 1 winner Bail Out Becky.

* Lane's End Farm in Versailles, Ky., has revised the stud fee for Came Home to $40,000. The farm announced earlier this week that the Gone West 3-year-old would stand his initial season at a $50,000 fee but corrected the fee on Friday. Came Home is a multiple Grade 1 winner and millionaire out of Grade 3 winner Nice Assay (Clever Trick). He is a half-brother to Grade 2 winner A. P. Assay.