by Frank Vespe
Call it a tale of two dispersals.
Maryland breeder Brice Ridgely achieved perhaps his greatest racing fame as the result of a single horse of national repute: Eclipse champion juvenile Declan’s Moon.
William Harris, who lived in Virginia but whose horses were Maryland-breds, on the other hand, gained renown largely as the result of a steady stream of good horses from one female family: that of the graded stakes placed Amanti and her daughter Thirty Eight Steps.
Ridgely passed away this past August, while Harris died in November 2013. Both men’s racing and breeding stock will be sold on Monday, at the Fasig-Tipton Mixed Sale in Timonium – one last gift for the region’s Thoroughbred industry.
“You’ve got a couple of dispersals,” said Bob Manfuso, whose Chanceland Farm is selling several mares. “It’s an interesting group of horses from that perspective.”
Becky Davis, who is consigning the Harris dispersal, says that she has begun to see rising interest among Maryland breeders, a result, she believes, of the slot revenue boosting purses and breeder awards.
“I’ve had a lot of interest,” she said. “A lot of clients looking to buy a broodmare.”
Harris enjoyed his greatest success with a quartet of runners – graded winner Sweet Goodbye and stakes winners Five Steps, Deer Run, and Norstep – out of the same dam, Thirty Eight Steps, by Thirty Eight Paces.
That family will be amply represented during Monday’s sale.
Ramanti (Hip 71), a 12-year-old mare by Yarrow Brae, is a half-sister to Thirty Eight Steps and has produced one winner from one starter. “She’s really nice,” said Davis. “I’m hoping she’ll be a strong one.”
The dispersal includes Breezy Bray (Hip 14) – a daughter of Thirty Eight Steps and a full-sister to stakes winner Five Steps – who has produced three winners to date. Breezy Bray’s weanling son, Hip 104, is also slated to go through the ring. He’s by Greeley’s Conquest, and Davis called him “a good-looking colt.”
Ridgely’s greatest equine feat – breeding his modestly accomplished mare, Vee Vee Star, to then-unknown Maryland stallion Malibu Moon, the mating which produced Declan’s Moon – will also be on many minds on Monday.
Start, in fact, with Vee Vee Star herself. The now-18-year-old mare, who has produced three other winners, will go through the ring as Hip 62. She’s not pregnant, and though she’s getting up in years, the opportunity to buy a Grade 1 producer doesn’t come along every day.
Looking for something younger?
Then you could take a gander at Hip 20, the four-year-old Delaneys Star. She’s a winner in her own right and a half-sister, by Latent Heat, to Declan’s Moon. “She’s pretty, correct, and a winner,” said Bill Reightler, who is consigning the Ridgely dispersal. “She should be a bright spot.”
And if even that seems too old? There’s always Hip 180, a weanling filly by exciting young sire Friesan Fire, who is… you guessed it… out of Vee Vee Star, and therefore a half to Declan’s Moon. Reightler calls her “a quality individual.”
Overall, Davis has 19 horses from the Harris dispersal, while Reightler has eight from Ridgely’s.
“I’m honestly hoping that having two dispersals will draw a lot of people’s attention,” said Davis. “There’s good quality in there that won’t have reserves that maybe they can get a bargain on.”
Reightler agreed. “Horsemen are opportunists, so if they think there’s an opportunity there, they’ll come to the sale,” he said.