06/06/2008 12:00AM

Yanks Music, champion filly, euthanized


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Yanks Music, 1996's champion 3-year-old filly, was euthanized on May 15 because of complications after colicking, the manager of Adena Springs, Steven Nicholson, confirmed Friday.

Yanks Music was 15 and was carrying a Thunder Gulch foal who was not saved. Her 2008 Smart Strike colt is doing well.

Adena's owner, Frank Stronach, purchased Yanks Music in foal to Storm Cat for $1 million at Keeneland's November mixed sale in 1997.

Yanks Music, an Air Forbes Won mare, had an inauspicious career as a broodmare, producing just two starters and one winner - the Touch Gold colt Yanks Gold - from seven foals. But she was justifiably famous for her racing exploits for her owner and breeder, Michael Fennessy, and his partner Audrey H. Cooper.

Fennessy, who bred the filly in the name of his Irish American Bloodhorse Agency, had tried twice to sell Yanks Music at auction, turning down $6,500 for her at the 1994 Keeneland September yearling sale and $20,000 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s spring juvenile sale the following year. In the end, he kept her and put her in training with Leo O'Brien, where his belief in her was borne out. Yanks Music won four Grade 1 races for a total of seven victories in nine lifetime starts, and she earned $787,600.

Yanks Music won all four of her Grade 1 races in 1996 and was beaten only twice that year, when she finished second in the Acorn and the Monmouth Breeders' Cup Oaks. She won the Mother Goose over future champion Escena and later took the Alabama, Ruffian, and Beldame, defeating such fillies as the 1995 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner, My Flag, 1995's champion 3-year-old, Serena's Song, and Grade 1 winner Clear Mandate.

Her owners flirted with the possibility of taking on Cigar in the 1996 Breeders' Cup Classic, but an ankle injury forced Yanks Music to the sidelines. While claiming her championship several months later at the Eclipse Awards banquet, Fennessy announced that Yanks Music would retire. Initial plans called for her to be bred to Cigar, who had retired after finishing third in the 1996 Classic, but that was upset by the horse's infertility. Mated to Storm Cat, Yanks Music was put in the sale where Stronach purchased her.

War Emblem 'showing promise'

Former champion 3-year-old War Emblem is making progress in his breeding career in Japan, according to a University of Pennsylvania specialist enlisted to help him.

"He has had fertile sperm, but for several years has remained selective about which mares he would cover," explained Dr. Sue McDonnell, a stallion behavior and breeding management expert at the University of Pennsylvania veterinary school's New Bolton Center. "With intensive therapy by our international team, in recent weeks the stallion has begun breeding well and is showing promise of a full recovery."

A 9-year-old son of Our Emblem, War Emblem has been covering one or two mares daily for the last three weeks at Shadai Stallion Station, a vast improvement on earlier seasons, in which he sometimes covered one or none at all. To date, he has sired only 30 foals of racing age as a result of Shadai's varied tactics - one of which was to let War Emblem choose which mares to breed from a group paraded before him.

The Pennsylvania team is trying a new approach.

"He appears to be in a state that we find some novice breeding stallions are, even though he's 9," McDonnell, 56, said. "He is like what we could call a 'bachelor stallion' under natural conditions. They are stallions that are mature but somewhat intimidated behaviorally and down-regulated physiologically by being exposed to a dominant stallion."

One of McDonnell's team's strategies has been to stable War Emblem away from other stallions, where he is surrounded by a group of resident mares, approximating the confidence-building harem stallion role.

"We know from research that if you do this you can improve not only behavior but also sperm production," she said. "While he's still a little choosy, he's got enough libido and confidence that he's been accepting most mares."

McDonnell and her colleagues, including New Bolton stallion handler Jim Morris, also have recommended new breeding management and stallion-handling techniques in an effort to increase War Emblem's chances of covering. And they have begun "very carefully monitored supplementation with male hormones," McDonnell said.

The extra work appears worth it for Shadai's owners, the Yoshida family, because his few runners so far have been promising. He has sired three stakes winners from his small total crop.

* Fasig-Tipton will catalog 568 yearlings to its July 14-15 yearling sale in Lexington, down slightly from last year's 582 horses. The first 322 yearlings in the catalog comprise the New Sire Showcase featuring first- and second-crop sires. Catalogs will be available June 16.

* Australia's Magic Millions broodmare sale ended Friday with 715 horses bringing about $34,502,100, for an average price of approximately $48,254. The sale had a record top price of about $2,565,000, when Darley purchased Divine Madonna earlier this week.