01/13/2006 12:00AM

Castle Rock guessed right by expanding


With slots riches finally on the horizon in Pennsylvania, leaders of the state's breeding organization are considering how to share the wealth.

"We want to invite people to come into the state and become committed Pennsylvania breeders," said Peter Giangiulio, the recently appointed president of the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association. "The PHBA's phone number will not become 1-800-VISITPA."

At least $25 million a year is expected to be distributed in incentive awards and restricted races, once Pennsylvania's slots program is in full swing. The PHBA intends to push for changes to the breeding fund program in the near future, aiming at upgrading the quality of Pennsylvania-breds in anticipation of a higher level of competition, while also tightening some of the residency requirements for registered Pennsylvania-breds.

Legislation signed into law in July 2004 by Gov. Ed Rendell appropriates approximately 16 percent of racing industry revenue toward breeders' funds.

"For so long, the focus was on getting slots and arranging a good deal for breeders," Giangiulio said. "Now we need to design it so that the breeding program expands, while also rewarding breeders and stallion owners who have supported the industry throughout the leaner years.

"I would encourage people to buy Pennsylvania-bred foals and yearlings now," added Giangiulio, "because the purses in Pennsylvania may be substantially higher when that youngster is ready to race."

Giangiulio, who succeeded Ray Hamm as PHBA president, is among those who have staked a large part of their future on slots. Giangiulio, along with his sister Barbara Geraghty, is the proprietor of 170-acre Castle Rock Farm in Unionville, one of the state's largest and most active breeding operations. An attorney, Giangiulio practices general law from an office on the farm.

Castle Rock began expanding its own stallion roster three or four years ago, in anticipation of slots. "It was not a time for the faint of heart," said Giangiulio. "We knew, in the end, we'd either capitalize on the situation, or go out of business."

This season, Castle Rock is operating at its current maximum capacity, with six stallions, including the new arrival Rimrod, a half-brother to leading European sire and three-time champion Selkirk, owned by George Strawbridge. Rimrod, a son of Danzig out of Strawbridge's multiple stakes producer Annie Edge (by Nebbiolo), made the bulk of his career starts in England and France, where he won two stakes and placed in group competition. He retired with earnings of $101,465. Rimrod enters stud in 2006 for a fee of $2,000 live foal, or $1,500 for mares foaling in Pennsylvania.

Castle Rock is also standing:

* Awad (Caveat-Dancer's Candy, by Noble Dancer), a turf star of the 1990's who concluded his racing career as a multiple Grade 1 winner of $3.2 million.

* Power by Far (Power of Mind-Farrah Foxet, by T. V. Commercial), one of the region's top sprinters throughout the late 1990's and a product of several decades of Castle Rock breeding. Bred and raced by Geraghty, Power by Far won or placed in 15 stakes and earned $544,335.

* Harry the Hat (Seattle Slew-Affirmatively, by Affirmed), who has four stakes horses from seven small crops of racing age.

* Lucky Clone (Broad Brush-Fara's Team, by Tunerup), a stakes-placed full brother to Breeders' Cup Classic winner Concern who will be represented by his first crop of racing age in 2007.

* Sheryar (Mt. Livermore-Lacework, by In Reality), a tenacious runner who campaigned to age 10, winning or placing in 59 of 120 starts. He has sired a dozen winners, including stakes winner Sheryar Special, from several small crops.