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Bluebloods : Karaka 2010 Yearling Sale Preview
58 KATIE LEE winning New Zealand 1000 Guineas Gr.1 all Denny Baker minutes after Katie Lee has won the 2009 New Zealand 2000 Guineas Gr. 1 and it's clear how much Hallmark Stud's first Group One winner means to him. "Katie Lee's grand-dam Miss Distinction was the most electric horse I ever rode, and that's what encouraged us to go into partnership with Trevor Hurley to breed from this family. It was very satisfying for all of us to sell Katie Lee for $340,000 at Karaka, but seeing her win a Group One classic was just amazing." A week later Katie Lee stormed home to win the New Zealand 1000 Guineas Gr. 1 as well, becoming the first filly to win both races. Call Denny's son Mark just about any time during the breeding season and you'll discover a key factor in Hallmark Stud's success. There'll be the sound of horses in the background, and Mark won't chat long because there's a foal, a yearling, a mare or a mating to attend to. Hands-on doesn't cover Mark's whole-hearted commitment to his business and the horses he offers for sale at Karaka on behalf of his family and their diverse client base. The results of that commitment have been evident throughout 2009. Katie Lee, purchased by Sir Patrick Hogan from Hallmark's 2008 Karaka Premier draft, opened the year with a convincing two-year-old win in the ARC Eclipse S. Gr. 3, and won a Listed Race in October before heading to Riccarton for a breath-taking and historic Group One Guineas double. In April, Awesome Planet, a $155,000 buy for Graeme Rogerson at the 2007 NZ Premier Sale, and Dutyful ($20,000, 2005 NZ Festival Sale) gave Hallmark a black type quinella in the MRC Manawatu Breeders' S. LR. Awesome Planet followed up with victory in the BTC Doomben Roses Gr. 3 in May, and won again in good company at Te Rapa in October. San Bernardino, a stakeswinner and Group One- placed at two, and a Group 3 winner at three, added the RRC Lion Red Plate LR to his record in October. The four-year-old son of Gold Mine has returned more than $200,000 on his $28,000 price at the 2007 Karaka Select Sale. Like Katie Lee, and four- time Australian winner Éclair Fantastic, San Bernardino is from the family that has become hot property in the past decade, since the appearance of two splendid half-sisters, Gr. 1 Gee I Jane and Gr. 3 Miss Jessie Jay. Asked what makes the family special, Mark replies, "They're basically kind, with a tough streak, the whole family just loves a scrap." Hallmark's investment in two young stallions has also borne fruit in 2009. From his first 28 starters, the beautifully bred Le Bec Fin (Tale of the Cat- Romanee Conti) has already left WRC Wellington Guineas Gr. 2 winner Skirmish, two stakes-placed fillies, Elle Tresor and Posh Bec, and ten other winners. Gold Mine's first 16 runners include San Bernardino and four other first-crop winners: Anticipating (now in Hong Kong), Sherborne, Te Horo Nugget and Goldminersdaughter. Both now with three crops of racing age, Le Bec Fin and Gold Mine are proving valuable to private owner-breeders and buyers with modest budgets. Mark, wife Vicki, and parents Denny and Lyn are quietly proud of their forty-year association with the 200-acre property between Auckland and Hamilton, that was once home to Kinross Stud and champion New Zealand sire Summertime. Denny says, "I was so fortunate to have Kinross studmaster John C HALLMARK STUD Malcolm as my mentor, and it's wonderful to see my family continue the tradition of breeding and rearing good horses here on this land." KARAKA 2010 STANDOUTS: Encosta de Lago- Danzanta colt -- Mark says, "He ticks all the boxes, he's correct, a great mover, with a great attitude, just a lovely horse." Commands-Donating colt -- "A big, black athletic horse with a wonderful attitude: can't wake him up, can't fill him up!" Testa Rossa-Acacian Secret filly -- "A big, scopey, athletic filly with a good, tough temperament by a stallion doing a great job." UNDER THE RADAR PICK: Oratorio-Superb Melody colt -- "He's a 20 November foal but doesn't look it, he's powerful and precocious with a typical laidback Oratorio temperament." AT THE END OF SALE DAY: Mark says, "I honestly don't relax until the sales series is all over. Afterwards I fall in a heap and don't really relax until I get away to the beach with Vicki and the kids. But I'm lucky to do what I do, and I love every minute!" RACING HIGHLIGHT OF 2009: "Obviously Katie Lee's historic 1000 Guineas/2000 Guineas double, because of all the connections with her family across four generations, but any horse we sell that goes on and performs at any level gives us a big thrill. "For instance, Craig Ritchie paid $40,000 for our Giant's Causeway-Snowdonia colt at the 2008 NZ Select Sale and produced him to win first-up over a mile at Ellerslie in October. It's only a maiden win, but it's important and Craig's got a handy horse. We got a big thrill out of that."
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