Updated on 09/16/2011 7:02AM

Branching out is paying off for Bridlewood

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OCALA, Fla. - The Bridlewood Farm of Arthur Appleton has had a series of successes the past few weeks, beginning with the sale of a Bridlewood-bred 2-year-old filly for $1.9 million at the Barretts auction of juveniles in training and continuing with state breeders' awards for the farm's premier broodmare, North of Eden, and racehorse, Forbidden Apple. Then Tuesday, with their first consignment of juveniles in training, Bridlewood sold the opening session's high-priced lot at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's auction of 2-year-olds in training.

George Isaacs, general manager for Bridlewood, said, "We made the decision recently for the farm to be a commercial, as well as a racing, operation. We are going to sell 2-year-olds and yearlings annually to complete this business plan, and this is our first 2-year-old consignment."

The leader among Bridlewood's initial consignment was a colt by Halo's Image who brought $300,000. A big, strong colt with plenty of scope and stride length, he sold to Michael Machowsky, agent.

Isaacs said, "We knew he was a good colt, and we had a lot of lookers and vet action on him. I'd have to admit, though, that he outsold our expectations, but what a great way to start out as consignors."

Bridlewood-bred stock has been topping other sales, as well. At the Barretts auction earlier this month, a big daughter of the Storm Cat stallion Stormy Atlantic brought $1.9 million from The Thoroughbred Corp. Bridlewood wasn't the vendor at Barretts, however. The farm had sold the filly as a yearling at the Keeneland September sale. Isaacs said that he "hand-picked a few Stormy Atlantic yearlings to help get the horse some solid sale figures," so that breeders could estimate the market's demand for his stock.

At Keeneland, the filly brought $31,000, one bid over the reserve. "I recognized she was a big, correct filly when I sold her. When I planned the mating that produced her, I was hoping to tap into some size and substance, and it worked. Sure, I wished we had sold her for a little more, but that was still a decent price for a yearling by a $6,000 stallion."

The stallion, freshman sire Stormy Atlantic, is a son of Storm Cat and Santa Anita Oaks winner Hail Atlantis, who is by Seattle Slew and from one of Claiborne Farm's finest female families, tracing back to Moccasin and Rough Shod.

Bridlewood acquired Hail Atlantis at auction, "carrying Stormy Atlantic," Isaacs recalled. "He was already at the racetrack when I took over as general manager. Stormy Atlantic was a very precocious 2-year-old, but he broke a pastern in his first start. They put a plate in his left pastern and gave him a year off. He showed a lot of speed and natural ability, but you'd have to think the pastern injury didn't help his chances of showing what he could do."

Even so, the horse came back and won 6 of 13 starts as a 4-year-old, including two stakes. "When he showed us he had the heart and the talent of a really good horse," Isaacs said, "we felt he had a big chance at stud, and Bridlewood has supported him every year with good mares. And he has been well-received by local breeders."

From his last three covering seasons, Stormy Atlantic bred 91 mares in 1999, 137 in 2000, and 130 in 2001. Isaacs said that for this year, "he was on his way to being solidly booked, but since the sale in California, his book is virtually closed. And I guess the sire is a little more valuable now."

A very strongly made bay, Stormy Atlantic is a typical Storm Cat with his deep quarters and broad body. The stallion has a massive top with good bone. He looks like a horse of immense power, and his earliest juveniles are showing some speed. If they can carry it, the demand for Stormy Atlantic will be intense.

At the Florida champions dinner in Ocala on Monday night, the farm received awards for the year's leading broodmare and for horse of the year. The top broodmare is the Irish-bred producer North of Eden. Now 19, the mare has produced Paradise Creek, Eclipse Award winner as champion turf horse; Grade 1 winners Forbidden Apple and Wild Event; and the good stakes winner I'm Very Irish.

Isaacs said, "She produced a nice Unbridled colt last year and was bred one time. It didn't take, and for the first time in maybe a dozen years, she didn't get in foal. Right now, she's in Kentucky and in foal to Giant's Causeway on a Feb. 12 cover. So we're real happy about that."

North of Eden's son Forbidden Apple is the current star for Appleton's racing stable, and "he is leaving the farm early next week to go to Christophe Clement. Forbidden Apple is training extremely well," Isaacs said.

Forbidden Apple's goal is the Woodford Reserve at Churchill Downs on Derby Day. A son of Pleasant Colony, Forbidden Apple also was named Florida's champion turf horse and older horse, and last year he won the Grade 1 Manhattan and ran second in the Breeders' Cup Mile.