Continued from part 1BIRTHDAY WISH COMES TRUE
The Fasig-Tipton sale became a great place for John Sykes of Tampa, Fla., to celebrate his birthday. Sykes and his wife, Susan, owned the striking chestnut son of Dehere, out of Afleet's Gold (by Afleet), who topped the sale at $625,000.
"As little as I know about horses, I could see he was a standout early on," said Sykes, who owns an information technology company called Sykes Enterprises and owns Cloverleaf Farm II, a 1,000-acre farm north of Ocala. "I was hoping he would reach $650,000 because it is my 65th birthday."
The Sykeses still own Afleet's Gold, a mare they bought for $150,000 out of the Hart Farm dispersal in October 1998. She is one of 21 broodmares Sykes has acquired since he bought the farm in March 1997. Originally Sykes just wanted a horse farm for his three children and four grandchildren to enjoy. However, Cloverleaf Farm II has developed into a full-blown breeding and training operation.
"I'm a businessman, so I look to see where there is the greatest return," he said. "Unless you're at the top, you won't make it racing. I liked the quick return of pinhooking, but it seemed like breeding offered the most value on several levels."
Cloverleaf Farm II was formerly Due Process Farm, which was owned by troubled financier Robert Brennan who, ironically, bred and raced Dehere.
The Dehere colt was purchased by Collins, an ex-jockey turned bloodstock agent from Limerick, Ireland, who was making his first yearling shopping trip to the United States. He bought eight horses worth $1,945,000 at the Fasig-Tipton sale.
Collins bought the Dehere colt and the $500,000 Wild Rush colt for Bobby Killoran, an Irish businessman who has multiple businesses in England.
"He had size, conformation, a good walk, plus he's got a great family," Collins said about the Dehere colt, whose dam has produced three winners out of four foals, including juvenile stakes winner Excess Thrilling. Both colts will be broken and trained by Dominick Brennan at Another Episode Farm west of Ocala.
Collins and Brennan were elbow to elbow as the bidding on the Dehere colt soared past what they both had hoped would be the final price. They conferred intensely at $600,000. The price eked up slowly in $5,000 increments.
Finally, the colt was theirs.
"We wouldn't have gone another bid," Collins said afterward.
"The buyers are getting a little more aggressive," Brennan said. "It was making me nervous."
Kentucky businessman Tracy Farmer bought the highest-priced filly early in the sale. He paid $325,000 for Hip No. 13, a bay daughter of Dance Brightly out of Bestofbothaccounts (by Private Account). She was the first of 10 horses Farmer bought for a total of $2.19 million.
"The individuals in this sale are better. That is the reason we are buying more this year," said Farmer, the owner of Shadowlawn Farm near Midway, Ky., and of top handicap horse Albert the Great. He said his purchases will be divided among four trainers in the Ocala area: Jerry Bailey, Barry Eisaman, Bill Recio, and Eddie Woods.
The filly, sold by Dromoland Farm, agent, of Lexington, was part of the first yearling crop by Dance Brightly, a stakes-placed son of Mr. Prospector out of Canadian champion Dance Smartly. Six yearlings by Dance Brightly sold for an average of $170,000, making him the sale's leading first crop sire (see page 4277). The average prices brought for the yearlings of other first crop sires included Wild Rush (six averaging $128,000), Cape Town (five averaging $104,600), Elusive Quality (four averaging $103,000), and Confide (three averaging $102,000).