07/15/2005 12:00AM

Breeders' focus on Go for Gin


Go for Gin, the 1994 Kentucky Derby winner who stands at Bonita Farm in Darlington, Md., caught the attention of many breeders as the sire of three stakes winners during a one-week span, July 3-10.

"Requests are already coming in from people who want to send mares to him next year," said J. William Boniface, proprietor of family-owned Bonita Farm.

Go for Gin's three stakes winners were sons Poker Brad, winner of the $40,000 Independence Day Handicap at Emerald Downs on July 3, and Gin and Sin, winner of the $75,000 Coca-Cola Independence Day Stakes on July 4 at Mountaineer Park, and daughter Gins Majesty, who won the $60,000 Kent Handicap on July 10 at Emerald Downs.

Poker Brad, the most accomplished of the three, was already a multiple stakes winner. A 7-year-old bred by Claiborne Farm from the graded stakes winner Gild (by Mr. Prospector), Poker Brad boosted his career earnings to $404,790 with his latest victory.

Gin and Sin, a 5-year-old horse, had also proven himself in stakes company, and is now a winner of $331,455. Gins Majesty, 3, was previously stakes-placed.

Go for Gin moved to Bonita for the 2005 season after nine seasons at Claiborne Farm in Kentucky, and is owned by a partnership of Bonita Farm and Joseph Cornacchia. Cornacchia was a co-owner of Go for Gin throughout his racing career. Go for Gin's best runner is $3 million earner Albert the Great, winner of the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup in 2000. Albert the Great is a member of Go for Gin's first crop.

Go for Gin's 3-year-old son El Autentico became his second Grade 1 winner with a victory in the Clasico Presidente de la Republica in Panama on June 5. From eight crops to race, Go for Gin has 16 stakes performers, including three graded stakes winners, and total progeny earnings of $11.5 million.

"We've been very pleased with him," said Boniface. "He's a good-looking horse who is very good from the breeding standpoint; he gets his mares in foal. We bred 59 mares to him this year, and we've only heard of two who are not in foal."

Boniface expects Go for Gin's record to improve further with his current crop of 3-year-olds and beyond. "He got a lot of good mares [in 2001] after Albert the Great's huge season on the track, and those younger horses are just beginning to develop," said Boniface.

Go for Gin (by Cormorant out of the outstanding producer Never Knock, by Stage Door Johnny) won or placed in 10 stakes during his own racing career and retired with earnings of $1,380,666. He topped a stellar field in the Kentucky Derby, including Horse of the Year Holy Bull, Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Tabasco Cat, and Dubai World Cup runner-up Soul of the Matter, and went on to finish second in both the Preakness and Belmont.

A half-brother to Eclipse Award winner and successful sire Pleasant Tap, Go for Gin carries on the sire line of the famed Ribot, and his pedigree is free of Northern Dancer, Seattle Slew, or Mr. Prospector - making him an outcross for many mares. He is the only Kentucky Derby winner standing in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Bonita Farm built much of its present-day success on another classic winner - 1983 Preakness winner Deputed Testamony - who was foaled, raised, and trained by the Boniface family, and is now retired from a long and successful stud career at their farm.

With Deputed Testamony out to pasture, Bonita had only two stallions in action for the 2005 breeding season, but both of them are making news.

Bonita stallion Mojave Moon, a superbly bred son of Mr. Prospector-East of the Moon, by Private Account, got his first winner from his first crop on July 10 at Delaware Park, when the 2-year-old colt Mieszko (out of Polish Empress, by Polish Navy) won a maiden race by 3 1/2 lengths. A grandson of the champion race mare and outstanding producer Miesque, Mojave Moon was bred to 60 mares this season and 57 are believed to be in foal.