11/11/2005 1:00AM

Winter Garden brings nice price at Keeneland


Winter Garden, one of Canada's top fillies last year, brought a whopping $575,000 at the first session of the Keeneland November sale last week, a fairytale ending for owner Frank DiGiulio Jr. and trainer Robert Tiller.

Originally a $30,000 yearling purchase by Tiller, Winter Garden won 12 of 18 starts, six stakes and more than $902,000.

A Kentucky-bred daughter of Roy out of the Canadian-bred Bold Ruckus mare Hillsburgh Rumors, Winter Garden was bred this spring to Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Speightstown and sold in foal to that stallion.

"We were going to be disappointed if we didn't get $500,000," said Tiller, who has been the DiGiulio family's trainer for more than a decade.

"We worked hard for that [sum]; it was well thought out. So we're pleased with the result."

Winter Garden was one of two top mares for DiGiulio in the last few seasons, along with homebred Brass in Pocket, a millionaire whom the owner kept and also bred to Speightstown.

Canadians were active at the November sale, mainly in the selling department. Sam-Son Farms sold several mares through Anderson Farms as agent, including champion Mountain Angel ($350,000, in foal to Gone West), stakes winner Sky Alliance ($550,000, Gone West), unraced Warm the Drum ($425,000, Tale of the Cat), and stakes producer Classic Slew ($310,000, Seeking the Gold).

Last weekend's River Memories Stakes winner Can Ihavethisdance, went from the winner's circle at Woodbine to Keeneland, where she was sold by Will Farish Jr. and Mark Casse to Arthur Hancock for $240,000.

One of Woodbine's longtime fan favorites, Miss Grindstone, a former claimer who won the Bessarabian Stakes last fall for owner William Robbins and trainer Frank Passero Jr., sold for a hefty $375,000 to Calumet Farm in foal to Mineshaft.

Jim and Alice Sapara's Winsong Farms, a major player on the local circuit, purchased several weanlings, including a Fasliyev filly from Ontario's own Michael C. Byrne for $290,000.

Stakes winner Strait From Texas, who raced for James Michael and trainer Paul Buttigieg, sold for $450,000 in foal to Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones.

The famed Windfields Farm also popped up on the buyers' list, picking up stakes winner On the Fritz, by Mahogany Hall, carrying her second foal by Dixie Union.

186 cataloged for CTHS sale

The catalog for this year's Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society's winter mixed sale is now available and 186 broodmares, weanlings, yearlings, and horses of racing age will be up for auction beginning Dec. 3 at 6:30 p.m. at the Woodbine sales pavilion. The second session of the sale is on Dec. 4.

Among the sires represented are Rizzi, Slew City Slew, Dayjur, and local stallions Bold Executive, and Ascot Knight.

Fifth Overture retired

Chiefswood Stable's speedy stakes-winning 4-year-old filly Fifth Overture, by Pulpit, has been retired and will join that farm's broodmare band. "She had a super season and doesn't really need to do anymore," said Stacey Krembil of Chiefswood. "She's too valuable as a broodmare."

Fifth Overture won 7 of 19 career starts and more than $368,000. She earned a 101 Beyer Speed Figure in winning the Grade 3 Seaway Stakes in September, and also won the Sweet Briar Too Stakes this year.