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March Madness Morgan-Style

by Diana Davidson

TEMECULA, Calif. - It is March. The field is set and the crowd gathers with anticipation. For college basketball fans, it certainly sounds like the onset of March Madness. So it was also, for Morgan horse aficionados with the approach of the March Madness Sale the weekend of March 18-20, 2004. The weekend's activities began Thursday, March 18, the same day as the tip-off of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. While basketball was on center stage at various sites around the country, Morgans were the center of attention in Southern California.

Bill and Helen Crawford hosted a lovely pre-sale party at the new home of Boston Morgan Farm in Murrieta, California, Thursday evening. The Crawfords and their horses made the move to the equine enclave known as La Cresta in late 2003. The Crawfords and daughter/trainer Carolyn Dillon were eager to show off the new farm to their many visitors from around the country.

The scenic Temecula area is home to numerous wineries, golf courses and other great tourist attractions. The weather was just perfect with warm sunny days and cool evenings. This served for a great late winter break for those coming to the sale from cooler climates.

Blackridge was the site of Friday evening's gathering. The sale tent was filled with tables and chairs as nearly 300 people enjoyed a buffet dinner reception. The excitement level hit a new high as 10 amazing stallions were presented on the runway. Bill Carrington welcomed the stallions as the crowd showed their appreciation for the 10 multi-titled champions who are now siring the next generation of champions. SLB DaVinci, Dragonsmeade Fusion, Cedar Creek Scalawag, MLF Sharper Image, Bocelli, And The Beat Goes On, High-Y Black Tie, CCR's Outrajus Corajus, Tug Hill Whamunition and Mizrahi were the tremendous 10, the basketball equivalent of the Final Four. This wonderful presentation certainly gave everyone a great sendoff for the evening and a positive feeling for the sale to follow Saturday.

A glorious Saturday greeted sale attendees beginning with a champagne brunch. As 1:00 p.m. approached auctioneer Walt Robertson and pedigree-reader Bill Carrington took their place on the stage to welcome everyone to March Madness. The audience included quite a few people who came to do as the catalog suggested, "purchase your next world champion in California," while there were others who were simply sight-seeing on their visit to California.

The final brackets contained 68 horses who would take their place on the runway in the two sale sessions Saturday afternoon and evening. When the final gavel fell, nearly 65 percent of the horses would have new owners. The day's tally included a healthy overall average price of $8,716 with the top 10 lots commanding an average of $24,400.

Dragonsmeade Evensong (Beethoven x Simply Apropos) earned a tremendous amount of attention going into the sale and her presence on the runway was spectacular. After some spirited bidding it was Richard and Linda Hawkins who were the enthusiastic top bidders of the day. Their $60,000 bid earned them the ownership of this spectacular mare who was bred and consigned by Dragonsmeade Farm.

The second highest bid of the day came from Kim Weed in her selection of the dynamic three-year-old mare Tyra (High-Y Black Tie x Simply Apropos). Morgan Ridge Farm was the breeder and consignor of this young beauty who commanded a $40,000 bid. World champion FCF Capestranno is heading to Indian Creek Farm as the top-performing stallion earned the third-highest bid of $30,000 following his consignment by Boston Morgan Farm.

World champion Iron Forge Sugar Blues is the newest member of Copper Beech Morgan Farm. Ann Hailey will have another top western pleasure mount with her $23,000 purchase of the mare consigned by Gael Mountain Morgans. World champion Formal Tempest rounded out the top five purchases as Jennifer Maggi signed the ticket for $20,000 on the five-year-old bay gelding who was bred and consigned by Chimera Morgans.

The success of March Madness will undoubtedly be seen in the coming show season and those to follow as many of these show ring champions and promising prospects take center stage in show rings across the country for their new owners. March Madness gave breeders, owners and trainers consigning horses a viable opportunity to market their horses in a great venue on the West Coast and should be commended in its efforts.

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