The three-day Ruidoso Select Quarter Horse Yearling Sale, the nation’s premier Quarter Horse yearling sale, kicked off on Friday, August 29 at Ruidoso Downs, NM, with a 16.6-percent boost in average price over the first night of the 2007 offering. The sale continues through Sunday evening, August 31.

The average price of a yearling on Friday night was $33,287, compared to $28,563 last year. A total of 153 yearlings brought $5.1 million on Friday, compared to 133 yearlings, which sold for $3.8 million in 2007 – a 34-percent increase to total sales.

Topping the Friday night session was Whatalovelywaytoburn at $240,000. The filly was offered by Deer Creek Holdings and purchased by Abagail Kawananakoa of California. The gray filly is a daughter of champion sire Walk Thru Fire and 1989 All American Futurity winner and champion 2-year-old Strawberry Silk.

Whatalovelywaytoburn’s sale brought to mind the sale of her dam, who at $100,000 was one of the top-selling yearlings at the 1988 Ruidoso Yearling Sale. I was on hand to talk with her connections in 1989, when Strawberry Silk (pictured) won the All American Futurity:

One gray filly in the 1988 yearling sales seemed “more like a stud horse” than a mare to trainer Jack Brooks, who had gone up against the filly’s mother plenty of times and knew how tough she was. Brooks convinced his client, Jackie Spencer, to pay a six-figure price for Strawberry Silk and a year later, they wound up in the winner’s circle at the All American Futurity.

“I told Mrs. Spencer that I’d seen (Strawberry Silk’s) mother run all over the country and I had a hard time outrunning Painted Bug,” said Brooks.”

“For fifteen years, we bought all the lowest-priced horses on the track,” Spencer said. “Then I decided it was time to find some fine, fine horses and Jack told me what to do.”

Strawberry Silk was sired by Beduino TB and out of Painted Bug, a mare that had been racing in the early ’80s, when Brooks was campaigning another All American winner, Mr Master Bug. Strawberry Silk gave Brooks and jockey Jackie Martin their fifth All American Futurity win.

“When she broke, I couldn’t see any of the horses around her,” Martin said. “She out broke them so bad that they were beat when the gates opened. I was more confident in that race than I was in any of the previous four (All American wins).

Strawberry Silk was the only stakes winner out of Painted Bug. But Strawberry Silk has produced four stakes winners, including leading sire Stoli, who is the sire of 2008 All American Futurity morning-line favorite Stolis Winner, winner of the $1 million Heritage Place Futurity and the $625,000 Rainbow Futurity.