Push for perfection validated in colt's $2 million sale

On Horse Racing

April 18, 1999|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Katherine Willson applied the same philosophy to breeding a thoroughbred racehorse that she did for years in breeding champion show horses.

"Conformation is as important as pedigree," Willson said. "My goal was to breed a beautiful athlete."

"Beautiful athlete" only begins to describe what Willson bred when she sent her bargain-basement broodmare Three Grand to the modestly priced stallion Not For Love.

How does this sound, Maryland? World record $2 million.

The colt that was born in 1997 at Katherine and Art Willson's Point Lookout Farm in Woodbine was sold Tuesday at Keeneland for $2 million. That equaled the world record for a 2-year-old sold at auction. A son of Brocco also sold for $2 million at the Barretts sale last month in California.

"I thought he had the potential to go for a big price," Willson said. "But that big? I'm surprised, but not totally surprised."

She had a clue because last fall at Timonium, when she offered the colt for sale, "I had people tell me he was the best-looking yearling they'd seen in 20 years," Willson said.

He brought $220,000 there, equaling the record for a yearling colt sold at a Fasig-Tipton Midlantic auction.

Based in Virginia, the Jenkins Brothers' H.T. Stables bought the yearling for the Canadian Cam Allard. And then Tuesday, the Jenkins brothers sold the colt for Allard in Kentucky.

Eight days before the sale, the colt ran one furlong, an eighth of a mile, in a sizzling 10.2 seconds.

The stunning price for a 2-year-old with an unproven pedigree resulted from a bidding war between owners associated with top trainers Bob Baffert and D. Wayne Lukas. Michael Tabor and John Magnier, Lukas' clients, won.

Lukas was quoted as saying the colt was "flawless." J.B. McKathan, a Baffert associate, was quoted as saying: "We really, really wanted that colt. He was just awesome out on the racetrack."

The colt has been transferred to Lukas' barn at Churchill Downs.

Willson bought the 5-year-old Three Grand, who had won just one race and $10,200, for $2,800 at the 1994 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic December mixed sale at Timonium. Actually she bought her back, because her husband, Art, and his partner, Richard Rose, had bred Three Grand and sold her privately before her modest racing career.

Willson then bred Three Grand in 1996 to Not For Love at Northview Stallion Station for $3,500. That was Not For Love's first year at stud. A son of Mr. Prospector, he had won six races (but no stakes) in 29 starts. And this was Three Grand's first foal.

"This colt from day one, he just had a presence about him," Willson said. "When you'd see him gallop across a field, he'd take your breath away."

Willson said she is happy for herself that a horse she bred brought so much money. But also, she said, she is happy for all the state's breeders.

"This is an important story for Maryland," Willson said.

Richard Golden agrees. He is president of Northview Stallion Station, where Not For Love still stands for a published fee of $3,500.

He said the message here is that buyers around the country should pay closer attention to Maryland-bred yearlings sold at Timonium. If the best horse in last year's sale sold for a mere $220,000 (considering that six months later he sold for $2 million), "then this would seem like a pretty good place to shop," Golden said.

Asked the chances of a Three Grand-Not For Love mating producing a $2 million 2-year-old, Golden replied: "What are the chances of producing a $2 million 2-year-old from any mating? Only two have been sold in the whole world."

Breeders awards

The Maryland Horse Breeders Association held its annual awards dinner Thursday at the B&O Museum. The following were honored: Champion 2-year-old male, Red Star Rose (bred by Albert H. Cohen and Randy L. Cohen, owned by Hickory Plains Farm, trained by Hamilton A. Smith). Champion 2-year-old filly, Magic Broad (bred and owned by Robert E. Meyerhoff, trained by Richard W. Small).

Champion 3-year-old male, Greenspring Willy (bred by Mr. and Mrs. Charles R. McGinnes, owned by Post Time, trained by Richard E. Dutrow Jr.). Champion older male, Partner's Hero (bred by Mr. and Mrs. David Hayden and Gilman Investment Co., owned by Horton Stable Inc., trained by D. Wayne Lukas).

Champion older female, Weather Vane (bred by William B. Delp, owned by Par Four Racing Stable, trained by Richard W. Delp). Champion steeplechaser, Smart Jaune (bred by Hidden Lane Stable, owned by Augustin Stables, trained by Sanna Neilson).

Champion 3-year-old filly, champion turf runner and Horse of the Year Tenski (bred by Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Bowman and Victor Ives, owned by Richard L. Golden, trained by Linda Rice).

Broodmare of the year, Big Pride (owned by Mr. and Mrs. E. Allen Murray). Stallion of the year, Polish Numbers (stands at Northview Stallion Station). Breeder of the year Dr. and Mrs. Tom Bowman.

Two views in Virginia

After a judge sided last week with the Virginia Racing Commission and ordered Colonial Downs to conduct 25 days of thoroughbred and 30 days of harness racing, the track's chairman, Jeffrey P. Jacobs, hinted that live racing in Virginia might soon cease.

But John Mooney, president of the recently created Maryland-Virginia Jockey Club, said Friday that he fully expects Colonial Downs to operate a thoroughbred meet from Labor Day to Oct. 11. Negotiations between track management and thoroughbred horsemen over purses should resume soon, Mooney said.

The harness meet will begin May 31 and conclude Aug. 4 -- post time 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Around the tracks

A decision on Cigar's new home -- either the Kentucky Horse Park or Allen E. Paulson's Brookside Farm -- will be made within two weeks, said Peter Trend, a representative of the Italian insurance company that took possession of Cigar as part of an infertility claim.

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