02/23/2007 1:00AM

WinStar finds a winning formula


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Despite this colt's name, the Saturday that matters is the first one in May this year. If all goes well, Any Given Saturday will be making the journey to post for the greatest two minutes in sports.

The dark bay colt began his year well with a victory in the Sam Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay and, now a winner in 3 of his 4 starts, will follow the Florida-to-Kentucky route to the Derby.

As a colt who is owned by WinStar Farm - which ran second in the Kentucky Derby last year with Bluegrass Cat - and trained by Todd Pletcher, there is no question about the goal for this colt: win a classic, preferably the Run for the Roses.

Doug Cauthen, president of WinStar, said that Elliott Walden, WinStar's racing manager, and trainer Todd Pletcher "had mapped out a route for this colt similar to the one we followed with Bluegrass Cat: Tampa Bay Derby, Blue Grass, Kentucky Derby. The Derby would be the ultimate goal if he successfully makes every step along the way."

In addition to all the Derby desire and preparation, this colt also has classic connections galore in his pedigree. Any Given Saturday is by WinStar's star stallion Distorted Humor, who is already the sire of Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide, and is out of a mare by Belmont Stakes winner A.P. Indy.

Any Given Saturday is also a grand-looking colt. Cauthen said: "He's a big, beautiful horse with scope, a beautiful head and shape, a great shoulder, and lots of length. He stands between 16 hands and 16.1 and is a good example of the Distorted Humors coming in many shapes and sizes. Yet there is still the athleticism and competitiveness that they all seem to have."

Racehorse Management LLC, a division of WinStar, bred Any Given Saturday in Kentucky, and if the dark bay needed any further endorsement for his prospects, he was a seven-figure yearling.

Cauthen said: "Any Given Saturday went to the sales as part of our plan to showcase both our stallions and our best horses, and we did have a high opinion of him. We had reserved him fairly highly, and we had a friend and partner who was interested in buying in with us."

At the Keeneland September yearling sale in 2005, Any Given Saturday went through the ring for $1.1 million, a sum that made him the top-selling yearling for his sire in 2005.

With an average price of nearly $200,000 from 76 yearlings sold that year, the offspring by Distorted Humor were definitely in demand, as they should have been following the performances of multiple classic winner Funny Cide, Grade 1 winner Awesome Humor, and other top racers.

So the marketplace essentially said "Take a million or keep the colt," and WinStar kept the colt in partnership. Cauthen said: "The colt was on the market if he brought $1.25 million, but we ended up retaining him in partnership. Keith Whitman was our partner, and a month or so ago, we bought out the partnership."

WinStar made money for one partner as the horse won his first two races and ran second in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes last fall, and now has acquired a different partner in the colt.

Cauthen said that subsequent to the purchase of Whitman's interest, "right around the time of the Sam Davis," Padua Stables purchased a quarter-interest in the horse.

"They had raced Bohemian Lady, the stakes-winning half-sister to Any Given Saturday," said Cauthen, "and they had an interest in the family."

Cauthen said that Padua brings "a nice portfolio of mares and an understanding of what it takes to make a stallion, having already proven Yes It's True and done well with Exchange Rate. It's a synergistic partnership that adds value to the horse in our minds."

Any Given Saturday has considerable value, come what may on the first Saturday two months hence. A good deal of that value lies in the quality of his pedigree. His sire is the most successful son of champion racehorse and leading sire Forty Niner, and his dam, Weekend in Indy, has indicated that she could be a very special broodmare.

A Saratoga select yearling in 1996, Weekend in Indy sold for $230,000. The buyer was Courtlandt Farm, and as a racehorse Weekend in Indy was a winner from 11 starts, with earnings of $60,060. When Courtlandt sold the mare at Keeneland November in 2000, Lisa Troutt purchased Weekend in Indy for $290,000. Troutt is the wife of Ken Troutt, co-owner of Winstar.

WinStar was doubtless attracted to the mare by her size and quality, as well as the fact that she is a daughter of stakes winner Whow, one of four stakes winners out of Hollywood Oaks winner Hooplah. After WinStar purchased Weekend in Indy, Whow produced her best racer, Grade 3 stakes winner Second of June.

And as a broodmare, Weekend in Indy has proven her innate worth. Her first foal was graded stakes winner Bohemian Lady (by Carson City). A $60,000 sale at the Keeneland November auction in 2001, Bohemian Lady resold for $150,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky sale of selected yearlings in 2002.

After slipping foals during the next two years, Weekend in Indy produced Any Given Saturday as her second foal. He was such a good foal that "ever since Any Given Saturday hit the ground, we've been touting the cross of A.P. Indy mares with Distorted Humor," Cauthen said.

The cross of Distorted Humor with A.P. Indy has impressed WinStar so much that "we're breeding She's a Winner [by A.P. Indy], the dam of Bluegrass Cat [by Storm Cat], to Distorted Humor this year," Cauthen said.

The grand-looking colt that WinStar thought more worthy than $1 million has made that judgment look sound, and he has made his dam a 100-percent producer of stakes winners from foals to race.

Cauthen said: "We have a yearling full sister to Any Given Saturday, but the mare has had very hard luck. The mare's foal of 2007 was born but died. But she has a lifetime date with Distorted Humor."