12/23/2007 12:00AM

Barbizons still making mark

EmailOn Saturday, Dec. 16, Presious Passion won the 12-furlong Grade 2 William L. McKnight Handicap at Calder Race Course, lighting up the mutuel board with a $136.20 payoff. But, Joe and Helen Barbizon were not surprised.

They bred the gelded son of Royal Anthem-Princesa's Passion, by Marquetry. According to their interpretation of Presious Passion's pedigree profile, the farther the gelding goes, the better he should like it.

Joe and Helen are just two members of the ubiquitous Barbizon family, many of whom migrated to Ocala a half-century ago when the patriarch of the family, Lester Barbizon, from Covington, La., started doing business in Marion County.

"My dad had five sons and four daughters, so there's no shortage of Barbizons," said Joe. "We've got a lot of kids among us, too. I have sons Ryan and Travis, and they have a lot of cousins."

The late Clayton O'Quinn, manager and then owner of Grosse Pointe Stud Farm, established the connection between the Barbizons and Ocala. When Joe Barbizon graduated from Covington High School in 1970, he went to Grosse Pointe and O'Quinn for a post-graduate education in horsemanship. After a decade at Grosse Pointe, he went to work for Mike Stavola at Stavola Farm, and left for a stint at Noel Hickey's Irish Acres Farm, where he met and married his wife, Helen, who was a barn foreman for Hickey. It was back to Stavola for another tour as manager before Joe and Helen started Pleasant Acres Farm.

Pleasant Acres Farm, bought and developed by the Barbizons 10 years ago, is a 300-acre spread in Morriston, Fla., about 25 miles north of Ocala. The farm supports 175 broodmares, 50 of which belong to the Barbizons.

The farm is also the Florida breeding and nursery center for clients Frank and Patricia Generazo, and Pat is the owner of Presious Passion. The Generazos raced and stand the successful sire Concorde's Tune at Ocala Stud, as Pleasant Acres Farm does not ordinarily stand stallions.

Presious Passion was purchased by the Generazos from the Barbizons. "We bred the horse and they named him," said Joe Barbizon.

Presious Passion has won 6 of 23 starts and earned $373,528.

The Barbizon-style breeding program is a joint project of husband and wife.

"Helen and I have to agree before we book to a stallion," Joe said. "We have to agree that the physical traits of both the mare and the stallion match, and we have to feel like the pedigrees match as well."

Joe makes no claims as to applying an established methodology to their breeding program - only a gut feeling between husband and wife that the mating seems right.

These spousal mutual agreements have produced a number of good racehorses through the years. The Grade 1 stakes winner Wild Escapade is a Barbizon homebred.

The mare Princesa's Passion, dam of Presious Passion, is still in business with a yearling colt by Trippi and a weanling by Exchange Rate. The mare is barren for '07. She has been booked to Medaglia D'Oro for '08.

January sale catalog online

The online catalog for the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s winter mixed sale, Jan. 16-18, is accessible via obssales.com. The catalogs will be in the mail over the holidays. There are 968 lots cataloged and 536 of them are foals of 2007 or what is referred to in the trade as "short yearlings."

In a departure from the customary Monday opening of this annual OBS sale, the consignors' preferred session, Hip Nos. 1-248, is Wednesday, Jan. 16, and the two open sessions are Thursday and Friday.