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Knapp chases Big dividend for maverick mating policy; BLOODSTOCK WORLD.

Byline: Rachel Pagones

SUPER TUESDAY is traditionally the premier session at Keeneland, and some fireworks will be saved for the very end of today's second day, when Big Brown's half-sister goes through the ring as lot 484.

The chestnut daughter of Touch Gold is being offered by her breeder, Monticule. Owned by Dr Gary Knapp, Monticule also bred and sold Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Big Brown, who changed hands for EUR60,000 at the Fasig-Tipton October Yearling Sale.

Monticule is no stranger to the commercial heights, including the sale three years ago of Plavius, a Danzig colt out of Sharp Minister, for EUR9.2 million to John Ferguson. The price is the third highest in the September Sale's history.

Knapp, who has a PhD in business administration, is not your typical commercial breeder. After Big Brown was born, he sent the colt's dam, Mien, to Horse Chestnut, whose fee was EUR10,000 at the time. The next year he sent her to Belong To Me, with a fee of EUR20,000, and now, following Big Brown's signature year, he has chosen a stallion with double the fee - Stormy Atlantic at EUR40,000.

He could have sold Mien for an enormous sum. "Somebody offered me more for her than I paid for all of them," he says, with a sweeping gesture. "But I would not relinquish control of that mare. She's got a good start, a very good start."

Monticule sold the Horse Chestnut filly for EUR57,000 last September, when Big Brown had only a maiden win to his name. Tony Lacy signed the ticket on behalf of Malih Al Bastih, a Dubai businessman who bought the top lot at the DBS St Leger Sale last week. Named My Chestnut Girl, she is in training with Henry Cecil.

Knapp says he is not bothered by having let go a half-sister to a subsequent dual Classic winner for such a modest price, pointing out: "That was a very high price for a Horse Chestnut, just as EUR60,000 was a very high price for a Boundary when we sold Big Brown."

He adds: "Some people were sort of surprised when I took Mien to Stormy Atlantic. A EUR40,000 fee is not indicative of the sire's quality but there's Distorted Humor, there's A.P. Indy . . . but if these things can come out and run the way we hope they'll run, then everything can sell after that."

Knapp uses biomechanical analysis as the starting point of his breeding programme; hence the attitude some might call cavalier to the commercial appeal of some of the stallions he uses - although he is not averse to using a top-drawer sire either.

"I go back and forth," he says. "I've used Danzig, Elusive Quality, I have a Smarty Jones on the farm - but I start with the biomechanics."

In regards to breeding to a sire of lesser commercial appeal, Knapp says: "It concerns me. I worry about it." However, that has not stopped him from using relatively obscure stallions.

Of the elite stallions, he says: "We would use them, if they fit really well. But sometimes those horses just don't fit. We stick with what works for us.

"And the other side of it is, what happens if we end up with this horse? We want something that's going to run. And you're going to have some RNAs reserve not attained. You better be ready to race those guys.

"I guess we're meant to breed racehorses - and once you do that, the selling will take care of itself."


Big Brown: his half-sister is lot 484
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Sep 9, 2008
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