10/26/2006 11:00PM

17 Florida stallions join century club


The Jockey Club recently reported that 17 Florida stallions each had a book of 100 mares or more in 2006. The trend toward bigger books is happening throughout the industry, especially when stallions do double duty and stand on both sides of the equator. But books of 100 or more are relatively new for Florida.

Among the 17 Florida stallions with triple-digit books are five freshmen, including the state's leader, Wildcat Heir, who stands at Cloverleaf Farms II for $8,000. The 6-year-old sprinter was bred to 173 mares.

Wildcat Heir is a bay son of Forest Wildcat and is out of Penniless Heiress, by Pentelicus. Penniless Heiress, with strong connections to Ocala Stud breeding, won two races at 3, but otherwise she made no waves. As a black-type producer, however, she has clicked with Forest Wildcat. In addition to Wildcat Heir, whose career peak came with a victory in the Grade 1 De Francis Memorial Dash, she is the dam of the Forest Wildcat offspring Forest Heiress, winner of the Grade 3 Sorority and the Grade 3 Valley Stream, and the listed stakes winner Forest Heir.

When Brent Fernung, the general manager of Cloverleaf Farms II, was asked to account for the popularity of his young stallion, he had no hesitation in his reply: "He may be as good a looking stud as there is. He sells himself. When mare owners would ask to see him thinking they might breed a mare, they would look him over and ask for two or three contracts. It's amazing everyone likes him. Never heard anyone knock him.

Cloverleaf Farms II is also the residence of Sarava. In an area where stakes-winning wannabe stallions who did not win sprinting are usually ignored, Sarava is an exception. Winner of the Belmont Stakes, he covered 44 mares in '05, his first season - which would have been considered a full book in the old days. This year he covered 101.

The remaining 15 Florida stallions who each had a book of 100 or more are listed here: Roar of the Tiger, 165 (124 last year); Closing Argument, 158 (freshman sire); Peace Rules, 135 (freshman); D'Wildcat, 131 (freshman); Trippi, 127 (149); Repent, 126 (110); Omega Code, 123 (141); Full Mandate, 121 (126); Sweetsouthernsaint, 120 (110); Macho Uno, 113 (107); Werblin, 109 (30); Indian Ocean, 108 (freshman); Double Honor, 106 (109); Alke, 102 (102); and Milwaukee Brew, 102 (102).

Wannabe stallions who made their reputation on the grass also usually have a tough time in the Ocala area. Middlesex Drive, a multiple Grade 2 stakes-winning turf specialist had small books the three years he spent in the Ocala market. Hard Buck, a millionaire Grade 1 performer on the turf competing on three continents, could only attract a dozen or so mares in his one year on the local scene. So, it had to be a surprise for Bill Murphy's syndicated Great Pyramid, to get 36 mares his first season at stud - more than Middlesex Drive and Hard Buck combined.

A bay son of Danehill, Great Pyramid did not win any prestigious races across the Atlantic. He did not even win or place in a black-type race. What he is is a full brother to the European horse of the year Rock of Gibraltar, who is having great success as a European first-crop stallion and who recently was leased to Japanese breeders for the 2007 season.

Red Bullet coming on

Adena Springs Farm South has reformulated its stud fees for the 2007 breeding season. Among the changes announced last week is that Preakness winner Red Bullet will have his fee reduced to $15,000 from $30,000.

There's a touch of irony here in that Red Bullet's reduced fee coincides with a first crop that has lately shown increasing accomplishment. Power of Freedom, who was purchased at last March's Ocala Breeders' Sales sale of 2-year-olds in training for $75,000, became Red Bullet's first stakes winner last Saturday, taking the $50,050 Comet Stakes at the Meadowlands.

It should be noted that few breeding pundits expected the get of Red Bullet to show early season precocity. Red Bullet, a son of Unbridled-Cargo, by Caro, was unraced as a 2-year-old. Going into the final week of October, Red Bullet has 13 runners from a registered crop of 54. Thirteen have started, 4 have won, and 3 have earned black type. He ranks among the top 20 first-crop sires in the money won category.