Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tuesday morning bloodstock agent, Part 3: Potential Second-Chance Deals

So it's been nearly two weeks since the conclusion of the 2010 Keeneland sale of 2-year-olds in training, but I'm delivering on the last of my three promised lists: The potential second-chance deals from the sale's RNAs.

Previously I offered my thoughts on the "steals" of the sale, and the "surreal" prices paid (or in one case, refused) for a handful of the 2-year-olds.

Forty of the 111 juveniles to go through the ring on April 5, or 36 percent of the horses offered, failed to sell for an unknown reserve price designated by the consigner prior to the sale, hence the abbreviation RNA -- Reserve Not Attained. Some of these colts and fillies still brought hefty bids without selling. Others received little attention from bidders and were more quickly spirited out of the sales ring to be returned to their consigners.

Certainly a horse that RNAs for a really short price has been tabbed by most or all potential buyers as one with a problem. Having not reviewed the animals in the flesh, I wouldn't have knowledge of these knocks. Could be the horse is small (not always the worst thing), or a little (or a lot) crooked, or the x-rays or scopes came back unclean. Something wasn't right.

Nevertheless, each of those foals is -- in my opinion -- well-bred, stems from quality female family, and has a family history that suggests he or she should be a racehorse.

For a short while after the sale (the time period in which I should have filed this list) potential buyers could have placed a second-chance bid on these horses through Keeneland's relatively new Kee-bid service, introduced at the company's 2009 September yearling sale. Several yearlings were sold last year when buyers submitted offers through Kee-bid, with e-mail notice of their interest and contact information being forwarded by the system to Keeneland and to the consigner.

If you're interested in one of these colts or fillies, money does talk and I'm sure their connections would like to hear from you. And if you're a bidder who took a pass -- or merely a fan, maybe one with winner's circle dreams but not yet the gumption to take the plunge -- you can watch the foals on this list for the next three or four seasons and perhaps lament the horse you woulda, coulda, shouda bought at Keeneland April 2010. (Or laugh at my tabbing them as horses with potential, should every one of them prove a failure.)

Without further ado, my favorites among the juveniles that didn't sell at Keeneland on April 5.

The Second-Chance Deals:

Hip 2: Chestnut colt by Lemon Drop Kid-Eliza's Time, by Barathea. The list begins with the first foal to pass through the sale (since Hip 1 was an "out"), and this fellow brought just a $12,000 bid. I wouldn't have sold him for that, and neither did the consigning agent, McKathan Brothers Thoroughbreds. He didn't run a particularly rapid eighth-mile, 10 3/5 seconds (click for video), but he wasn't the slowest at the sale, either. And while there are potential drawbacks even on the catalog page (let alone the x-rays or scopes I haven't seen), he has up-side, as well. His sire stands for $35,000, nearly triple the amount bid for the colt at the sale. And he has a pretty good record of producing racehorses, with 79 percent starters and 51 percent winners from all foals of racing age through Nov. 8, 2009; average earnings per starter are more than $78K and median earnings per foal are over $30,000. I have a hunch this boy might be a later-developing horse (only about 13 percent of LDK's foals win at 2), and a turf or synthetic runner, to boot. About 40 percent of all wins and 46 percent of all progeny earnings for sons and daughters of Lemon Drop Kid have come on grass (including G1 winner Citronnade), the sire also boasts G1 all-weather winners in the likes of Richard's Kid, Christmas Kid and Santa Teresita, and an Irish-bred dam by the late English and Irish champion (and Breeders' Cup Mile winner) Barathea certainly doesn't lead me to believe this colt is most likely to want traditional dirt. ... There are some gaps in his credentials. His dam was unraced, and he's her first foal, so we don't know yet whether she can produce runners. Second dam Meadow Spirit (Chief's Crown-Liberty Spirit, by Graustark) was unplaced in her only start, and has a weak produce record save one foal -- SUNSHINE STREET (by Sunshine Forever), a distance-running grass horse and winner a decade ago of the San Juan Capistrano H.-G1 going 14f at Santa Anita. Third dam Liberty Spirit was unplaced in two starts, but did produce DAWN'S CURTSEY (Far North), who won the 10-furlong-turf Flower Bowl H.-G1 among older fillies and mares in 1995 when she was just 3. Liberty Spirit was also half-sister to MEHMET (Monmouth H.-G1, Cartleton F. Burke H.-G2T, etc., $718,015, sire) and to the noteworthy filly MISS SWAPSCO (Ashland S., etc.), who was the dam of two stakes winners, two more stakes-placers and is in the tail-female line of at least two dozen stakes horses, including the likes of: SINGSPIEL (turf G1s on three continents, multiple champion, sire); GLORIOUS SONG (G1, four championships including Canada's Horse of the Year); DEVIL'S BAG (G1, Eclipse champion juvenile, sire); SLIGO BAY (G1T, sire); SAINT BALLADO (G2, sire); RAHY (G2, sire); BOSTON COMMON (G2); RAKEEN (G2-SAF, sire); HISHI NATALIE (G2-JPN); LADY BALLADE (G3-JPN); BLACKSBURG (G3T); STORM SURGE (G3, sire); and WORTH AVENUE (G3). Deeper in this female family, related to this colt through his fourth dam, Soaring, are full brothers PARADE GROUND and PARADE LEADER, both G2 winners sired by Kingmambo, who is the paternal grandsire here. ... TrueNicks rates the mating an "A" based on Lemon Drop Kid over a Northern Dancer-line mare, while Werk grades it an A+++ for Kingmambo's line over Sadler's Wells. ... This pedigree shows a lot of turf form (and, more recently, synthetic) and more than its share of stamina in an increasingly speed-laden breed (remember, sire Lemon Drop Kid won the Belmont). So I wouldn't be surprised to see this colt wait until he's 3 to race, and when/if he does show up for it to be on grass somewhere, perhaps at Arlington Park or in California, where he can find both turf and synthetics.

Hip 9: Chestnut filly by Speightstown-Evangelizer, by Saint Ballado. This filly was the co-speed-demon of the under-tack show, blazing a 10-flat eighth, but only brought a high bid of $100,000 (six figures, but well beneath the sale's median and average, and she was a $40K yearling last September at Keeneland). It's said that you want to see a horse who is running fast even when he looks like he isn't, and from the video, this filly doesn't exactly fit that bill. From the instant I saw the clip, I thought, "Wow, it looks like she's running fast." Thankfully, the time agreed that she was. So she's quick, but maybe not smooth, and she didn't look like she had a lot of size, though she appeared compact and muscular. ... On the plus side -- and a big plus -- her female family says she should run (although soundness could be an issue). Her dam was a winner, but only made three starts. She has already produced a Malibu Moon filly, Worship the Moon, who was G2-placed in the Matron Stakes at Belmont last year at age 2, and has won her 3-year-old debut, making five starts thus far. Second dam Religiosity (Irish Tower-Winter Sleep, by Rising Market) was a G3 winner at 3, though she only raced 10 times. She produced 10 winners and three stakes winners (all fillies), including: Ill-fated Canadian champion juvenile KNIGHTS TEMPLAR (Exploit), who died of lymphoma at 3; FOR ALL SEASONS(Crafty Prospector, G1-placed); and DIAL A SONG (Mining). Another daughter of this second dam, Kit's Girl (Carson City) has produced multiple G2-winning sprinter EATON'S GIFT(Johannesburg). This filly's third, fourth and sixth dams also were unraced, but all were stakes-producers. So, I'm concerned about her durability, but the family has talent. And, that talent appears to be pretty precocious and destined for going short, which should be pluses both when coupled with champion sprinter Speightstown and for winning (and earning blacktype, perhaps?) this year, not necessarily waiting for later. Speightstown, for his part, got 76 percent runners from his first two crops, about 44 percent 2-year-old starters, and 17.9 percent 2-year-old winners. ... Wavertree Stables Inc. (Ciaran Dunne) was the consigning agent.

Hip 11: Dark by or brown filly by Rock Hard Ten-Fascinating Gal, by Theatrical.This one already has a name, Black Tulip. An unraced dam doesn't add to the appeal, but from two prior foals of racing age she's already produced a Keeneland allowance winner namedImpressive Look, by Silver Hawk, who is a son of Roberto, who in turn is the grandsire of Rock Hard Ten. The dam is half to a pair of Philly Park stakes winners in COZY LACE (Cozzene) and GLIMMERING CREST (Gold Crest). Their dam, Dangling (Silent Screen) only earned $27,531, but placed in two minor stakes races at Delaware Park and Ellis Park and was a half-sister to SCRIMSHAW (G3, NTR Aqueduct, sire ... no, not this Scrimshaw). ... This one is bred to run all day and potentially on turf (or synethetic?). Yet her 10 2/5 breeze is pretty fair and I thought she looked good doing it. And while Rock Hard Ten is a massive horse who didn't race until 3, who got only 27 raced foals and just eight winners (with a 7.55-furlong average winning distance that is long for a group of 2-year-olds) from 82 juveniles in his freshman crop last year, and whose foals should, like their sire, get better with time, that limited group of 2-year-old runners produced three stakes winners, two of them annexing Grade 3 races. So you might have to wait on this one, but I think she'll eventually race effectively, probably around two turns. Solitary Oak Farm (Danny Pate), agent, were unwilling to sell her for $50,000 and I can't blame them. She was a $25K RNA when offered by consigner Brad Murray Thoroughbreds at Fasig-Tipton's October sale, then was wheeled back into the November Keeneland sale by Lane's End as agent for Bentley Bradshaw, where she sold for $28K. So the price has gone up, but so has her upkeep and training, and I'm not at all surprised that $50K wasn't enough to buy her.

Hip 19: Bay colt by Bernstein-Foundit, by Seeking the Gold. OK, I picked on Bernstein in this series, but the $10,000 top bid on this War Horse Place LLC consignee probably seemed insulting. His 10.3 breeze wasn't awe-inspiring, but some horses were whipped to go just a tenth faster and the rider never laid leather on this one. His dam was unraced, but from three older foals she's produced two winners, including the gelding Fundit (Successful Appeal) who won twice last year at 3 and set a Colonial Downs track record for 6.5 furlongs at 1:16.44. (The other foal is Horse Chestnut-sired gelding Swakop, who was a $9,000 Keeneland yearling and won two cheap races in Canada.) The allure here is in the second dam, multiple G1 winner Chaposa Springs, and the third dam, La Chaposa, a champion sprinter in Peru who is also the dam of Metropolitan H.-G1 winner YOU AND I. Neither Chaposa Springs nor her daughters have produced much of anything so far, and it's likely the buyers are growing wise to that unfortunate fact; it's sad when a great stallion or mare can't seem to pass along their own talent. But the fact that two out of three foals from Foundit have managed to score wins somewhere suggests to me that this colt will eventually break his maiden, too. Maybe he'll even beat one of these horses who sold for five or 10 times his RNA price at Keeneland April 2010.

Hip 25: Bay colt by Broken Vow-Go Again Valid, by Valid Appeal. What happened to this kid from 2009 to 2010? Bluegrass Thoroughbred Services Inc. was the agent when he sold for $92,000 to Sugar Valley Farm as a short yearling at KEEJAN '09. By September, Eaton Sales was the agent when Zayat Stables bought him at Keeneland for $180,000. But his third time through the Keeneland ring was not charmed, as he brought a bid of only $50,000 for his consigners, the aforementioned McKathan Bros. ... It isn't the time of the breeze that failed him; 10.2 is fine. Nor should it be the catalog page; his dam won the G3 Interborough Handicap at Aqueduct and has already produced a (very) minor stakes winner in BELONG AGAIN (Belong to Me) and a Louisiana Downs stakes-placer in Miss Afleet Alex (Afleet Alex, duh). Of her five foals of racing age, all are winners. However, none of those five have yet reached $50K in earnings, so maybe hopes have dimmed for this one. Still, his dam is half to Italian champion ONCE MORE DUBAI (E Dubai, highweight from 9.5-11f at 3), his second dam, the multiple-winning Broad Brush mare Go Again Girl, was a full sister to LOOMING (12 wins, four stakes, G3-placed, $337,709), and the third dam is multiple stakes-winning mare Native Derby (Master Derby). So there's evidence he should run, but also no doubt some reason why Zayat Stables -- who run a lot of horses -- apparently didn't want to keep this one, and why buyers this time around weren't willing to pay even half the average he sold for in two trips past the auction block as a yearling.

Hip 26: Bay filly by Ghostzapper-Golden Antigua, by Hansel. All right, she's slow, at least by 2-year-old-show-breeze standards; 11-flat through the eighth. But she's bred to get a distance and a year or two from now if she's coming home the last eighth of a mile or a 9-furlong race in anywhere near 11-flat, an owner would wet his pants with excitement. So Ghostzapper didn't exactly light the world on fire with his first crop of juveniles in 2009; 21st among freshman sires with only 27.5 percent runners and 10 percent winners from 80 2-year-olds? While the sire did win a race at 2, he didn't come into his own until age 3 and was a champion at 4. Should we have expected lots of 2-year-old winners? (And his surprise winner of the April 10 Blue Grass S.-G1, Stately Victor, suggests a little bit of seasoning and distance will be positives for his get.) Meanwhile, the female family here is quite good. Dam Golden Antigua was a winner at 2 and 3 and stakes-placed in Italy before being returned to the States, where she showed strong turf form and won six more times at 4 and 5, including two renewals of the Nicole Stakes at Hawthorne, earning $309,260. She has already produced GIANT GIZMO (Giant's Causeway), who won the G3 Alysheba Stakes in the slop at Churchill and later the G3 Lone Star Park Handicap, both after setting a track record for a mile on Pro-Ride at Santa Anita with a time of 1:34.59. All four of Golden Antigua's foals of racing age are winners (including another stakes-horse, 9-furlong Turfway stakes-placed Slick Pardoned Me), and her dam, Greinette (Greinton) produced five winners from seven foals. Third dam Ribonette, by the great, unbeaten Ribot, produced MI SELECTO (Explodent, three G1 wins, $1.475 million, sire), BAR DEXTER (True Knight, two G2 wins), TAIBHSEACH (Secreto), and unplaced filly Leaf Spring (Torsion), who in turn produced 100 percent winners from 13 foals, four of them blacktype horses, including South African 2-year-old champion BLOSSOMING FIELDS. This filly's dad is from good broodmare-sire stock in the Deputy Minister line (with her sire's dam being by Relaunch), her female family produces, and she's already half to a multiple-graded winner with her 13-year-old dam presumably still in production. If she runs out at all, she has broodmare potential, possibly commercial. I'm not sure of Ghostzapper over a turf-running mare in Golden Antigua. (Polytrack, maybe?) And she has plummeted in price since selling for $200,000 as a weanling (Sugar Hill Farm at KEENOV '08) and a loss at $150,000 to Dale Romans as a yearling at FTSAUG. Still, the $22,000 bid turned aside by consigner Jerry Bailey Sales Agency shouldn't have been nearly enough to buy her. Look for her at a track by the end of 2011, and if it's for a reasonable tag, give her a close look in the paddock and consider dropping a claim.

Hip 36: Bay colt by Rockport Harbor-Java Jolt, by Hennessy. Another whose value plummeted from yearling sale -- $140,000 at OBSAUG '09 to Nick de Meric, agent, down to $35K and an RNA at KEEAPR when consigned by Niall Brennan Stables, who are known for good horses. The colt rumbled through the eighth in 10.3, which is hardly rotten. His dam was unraced and has a spotty produce record so far, with only one winner from three to race and five registered foals. But that winner is G2-placed True Addiction (Yes It's True). The second dam here is G3 winner Risen Colony (Pleasant Colony), who was a full sister to G1 winner and sire CHEROKEE COLONY. It's reaching back a bit, but fourth dam Copper Canyon (Bryan G) was a minor stakes winner whose dam First Flush and noteworthy granddam, Hildene, are reines de course, and who herself is in the tail-female lines of at least 16 other blacktype horses, including G1 winners SPEIGHTSTOWN (champion sprinter, whose dam was Canadian champion juvenile SILKEN CAT), TURK PASSER ($735,320) and CRUSADER SWORD (sire). ... While I'm a little leery of freshman sires, of Rockport Harbor being from the seemingly fragile Unbridled line and making just eight starts himself, and of this dam's produce record, this one was cheap compared to the Rockport Harbor juveniles to have sold ($113K average, $67K median) and, if he scored blacktype and stayed sound (big "ifs") does have the pedigree to stand at stud. So despite some reservations of my own, I think he was worth more than the $35,000 offered, though I've no idea what it would have taken to buy him after being a $140K yearling, plus the added cost of training up to the sale.

Hip 39: Bay colt by Sir Shackleton-Keepers Hill, by Danehill. This one, already named Shackleton Hill, actually is on the list not because he's a potential deal, because frankly had he sold for the $27,000 bid that Kirkwood Stables, agent, refused, I'm not sure whether I'd have labeled him a "steal." In fact, that phrase, "I'm not sure," applies all-around to this colt. I'm just not sure what his breeders were going for here. His dam, Keepers Hill, was a winner in both Ireland and the U.S., was stakes-placed in Ireland, and has already produced a son, Swilly Ferry (by Wiseman's Ferry) who earned a whopping £206,492 (that's $343,305 in Uncle Sam's dollars) in a sturdy 10 starts (nine on turf, one win on all-weather) at age 2 in the U.K. He won the Weatherby's Insurance 2-year-old Stakes on grass at Doncaster, a race that doesn't qualify for catalog blacktype by U.K. standards, but with 19 runners and a £183,000 purse, it should. Second dam Asnieres (Spend a Buck) despite her Kentucky Derby-winning, dirt-raced sire was a winner on grass in France and who in addition to Keepers Hill has produced the French-turf G3-winning Sadler's Wells filly AUSTRALIE and the Danehill Dancer gelding Forgotten Voice, who won his first four lifetime on all-weather and turf in the U.K., and is G3-placed on both grass in the U.K. and on Tapeta at the new Meydan course in the UAE. Third dam Albertine (Irish River) was French-born and G3-placed on grass there; a half-sister to French champion ASHMORE (Luthier) and to Group 3 grass winners ART BLEU (Legend of France) and ACOMA (Rheffic). Albertine produced French G1 winner and champion ARCANGUES (Sagace), and here we finally have a major dirt winner as in 1993 he shocked the likes of Bertrando, Kissin Kris, Best Pal, Devil His Due, Marquetry, Miner's Mark, Colonial Affair, Diazo, and the world by winning the Breeders' Cup Classic-G1 at 133/1 odds. Albertine also was the dam of French Group 3 winner AGATHE (by Manila, dam of treble Group 1 winner AQUARRELISTE and U.S.-raced G1 turfer ARTISTE ROYAL), and of French turf stakes winner ALAMO BAY (Nureyev). ... Now, with all that grass in the bloodstream of the mare, why Sir Shackleton, a multiple G3 dirt horse with two records sprinting on the main tracks at Gulfstream and Tampa? At least Wiseman's Ferry, like Sir Shackleton a West Virginia Derby winner, was Group 3-placed on turf in Ireland at 2. Seeking a synthetic horse here? Well, his breeze over the Polytrack was a comparatively sluggish 11-flat, but he didn't particularly look "bad" doing it. Of course, Sir Shackleton's sire, Miswaki, could get his share of turf horses, including French highweight Urban Sea, champion broodmare in the U.K. and Ireland, famed as dam of G1 winners SEA THE STARS, GALILEO, MY TYPHOON and BLACK SAM BELLAMY. Still, I wonder if more than the slow breeze (i.e., "What's up with this mating?") had something to do with the low bids, because the female family here is just downright good and his older half-brother had more than earned his keep before he ever turned 3. ... He was only a $15K yearling, so maybe this boy just doesn't look that good on the hoof (or x-ray or scope well), and he wasn't quick. But this female family produces racehorse after racehorse, so don't be surprised if he's eventually one, too. I'm just not sure where or on what surface.

Hip 45: Gray or roan colt by Bluegrass Cat-Lady Cruella, by Capote. If it feels like I'm selecting every RNA as a potential bargain, it's starting to seem like that to me, too. But I'm not. In the case of this one, I'm again somewhat reluctant to recommend the get of a freshman sire. But Bluegrass Cat was a gutsy performer; a two-turn winner at 2 (including the Remsen S.-G2 at 9f), a G1 winner at 3 (Haskell Invitational), and finished second to the likes of the brilliant but ill-fated Barbaro in the Kentucky Derby, Belmont-stunner (from a multi-Belmont family) Jazil and champ Bernardini in the Travers. Only twice did he finish worse than second in 11 lifetime starts (I do wish that number were bigger), and eight of those starts were stakes races. This son of his ran a pretty decent 10.2 breeze, though from the clip only it looks like his base might be a little narrow in front (but that's just a guess). And the colt is out of a $115K-earning mare who has already produced two stakes winners, multiple-G2 millionaire LEAH'S SECRET (Tiger Ridge) and G3-winning juvenile BEAR TOUGH GUY (Roar of the Tiger), both by Storm Cat sons who weren't nearly the racehorses that Bluegrass Cat proved to be. Third dam here is Great Lady M. (Icecapade), a multiple-stakes winner and track record-setter who bore 12 winners including beloved Horse of the Year LADY'S SECRET (Secretariat). ... A colt with a decent breeze, a sire from one of America's first-families of stallions, a graded-blacktype-producing dam whose own dam was half to a multiple champion; I can fully understand Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds, as agent, rejecting a bid of $90,000.

Hip 61: Dark bay or brown colt by Bluegrass Cat-Maid's Broom, by Deputy Minister.Here I go again, recommending a 2-year-old by a freshman sire. But this one scores with me on the strength of his dam's produce. He's a half-brother to four stakes winners: G2 millionaire TENPINS (Smart Strike); 12-race winner OVERRIDE BATTLE (Conquistador Cielo); 13-race winner IT'S A SWEEP (Jade Hunter); and filly DUST AROUND (Geiger Counter). Yeah, they're Michigan-breds and three of them did most of their running in restricted races. You still don't combine for 40 wins (the total output of these four) without being racehorses. So I suspect this guy will also be a racehorse. (Although I will point out that the four blacktype siblings are all from Mr. Prospector-line sires.) ... Second dam Overreaction (Nodouble) was a minor stakes winner herself, and half to more serious blacktype in Spanish Horse of the Year PETIT LOUP, Canadian champion grass horse BOUNDING AWAY and SW/G1-placed sire ASCOT KNIGHT. This one breezed a quarter instead of an eighth, and while 22 2/5 isn't blazing, it isn't altogether slothful, either. Unsurprising that Kirkwood Stables as agent turned down a mere $22,000 (the sire stands for $25,000). But when Bill Murphy was the agent last year, the sellers had a chance to turn this boy over for $110,000 at Fasig-Tipton July. (His price had slipped to $47K by the EAS September sale, again with Murphy as agent.) ... Hindsight of course says he should have been sold for $110K nine months ago; regardless $22K broke and ready to move forward as a racehorse wasn't gonna happen.

Hip 115: Dark bay or brown colt by Vindication-Solid Eight, by Fit to Fight. The sire here, a 2-year-old champion who died early in his stud career, at age 8, has gotten a few nice horses in his first four (large) crops, as evidenced by G2 winner More Happy and G3 winners Vocalised and Free Judgment. Unfortunately, I'm not sure those are showing any more durability than their sire, who just raced four times, as the trio of graded winners have but 21 starts between them and More Happy is already retired. So the real allure here is the dam's side. There, we find Solid Eight, a multiple listed stakes winner (albeit of just 11 starts) who has produced nine winners from 12 other foals of racing age, including G2 winner of $900K EUCHRE (Personal Flag), 14-win listed stakes winner LOUIE THE LUCKY (Saratoga Six) and Meadowlands stakes winner of over $200,000, C. C. ON ICE (Hansel). This sales colt's half-sister Ale Eight Woman (Gone West) is the granddam of WAYZATA BAY (Roar), a G2 winner of 12 victories for nearly $719K. Half-sisters Solid Claim (Mining) and Gretel Girl (Hansel) are minor stakes producers. The colt breezed a decent 10 2/5 and fairly looks the part. He was a $40,000 RNA as a Keeneland September yearling and only brought a top bid of $45,000 that wasn't enough for Eddie Woods, as agent, to let him go. Granted, this colt's more recent siblings haven't run out as well (particularly three in a row by Unbridled's Song who are 3-for-16 lifetime with $76,022 earned between them). But when other horses that, on pedigree and breeze time, don't seem any more likely to succeed than this one, sell for many times his price (I'm lookin' at you, Hips 3 and 52 at $310,000 each), I think a colt like this is evidence that a buyer can be well-served by shopping in the low to middle end of the price spectrum.

There were others in the remaining RNAs that I considered recommending, but something always cropped up to back me off. Many of these 11, I have a fair measure of confidence, will prove themselves to be racehorses who might have been worth more than was offered for them.

Now, let's see 'em do it.

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