10/04/2007 11:00PM

Despite success, Squires switching gears

EmailLEXINGTON, Ky. - Jim Squires is having a dream season as a breeder. He has only eight broodmares at the 132-acre farm he and his wife, Mary Anne, own, but two of them are the dams of the Grade 1 winners by Broken Vow: Cotton Blossom and Unbridled Belle. And he's the breeder of another Grade 1 performer, A to the Croft, who finished second in Friday's Alcibiades at Keeneland.

"We're just having a ridiculously good time with the racehorses," he said.

Breeding Grade 1 winners isn't an entirely new thing at the Squireses' Two Bucks Farm in Versailles, Ky. They bred 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos there from their Dixieland band mare Regal Band.

Now, with three Grade 1 runners advertising the power and depth of his mare band, you would think Squires would be eagerly awaiting the 2008 yearling sales. Instead, he's calling it quits in the commercial breeding game to concentrate on homebreeding and racing horses in partnership with such friends as Ashbrook Farm owner Glenn Bromagen and retired Scripps Networks chairman Frank Gardner.

"I can breed a racehorse, but I can't breed a sale horse," Squires said. "The commercial market has gotten so goofy. They all go for the same horse, and generally that's by a horse bred to 160 or 170 mares. I don't do that, and I can't make myself do it. I think it's bad for the industry."

So Squires says he will keep doing what he has always done: breeding to great broodmare sire lines and trying to raise a good racehorse, regardless of fashion. He will have some help from those Grade 1-producing mares.

"Virtually all my stakes winners are Hyperion-based broodmares back on a Raise a Native line, with the La Troienne family in there as many times as I can get it," he said. "When I find something that works, I keep on doing it."

Much of Squires's current success dates back to the first Thoroughbred mares he bought. Two of them, like Monarchos's dam, were Dixieland Band mares: For Dixie, whom Squires bought in 1994 for $77,000, and Scorched, a $42,000 purchase in 1995. For Dixie is now the dam of Cotton Blossom and Grade 3 winner Vicarage, and Scorched produced Heart Warmer, the dam of A to the Croft.

Unbridled Belle, on the other hand, is out of a recent import to the Two Bucks broodmare band: the Silver Buck mare Little Bold Belle, bought for just $5,000 out of Keeneland's 2003 November sale when Unbridled Belle was just a weanling.

Squires still has Little Bold Belle and For Dixie, but he sold Heart Warmer to Donna Moore for $15,000 at the Keeneland November auction in 2006.

Squires recalls with a laugh that Pin Oak turned him down for a season to Broken Vow in the stallion's first year, a problem he's not likely to have again. Unbridled Belle and Cotton Blossom have contributed greatly to Broken Vow's status as leading third-crop sire, and, after all, it was Monarchos who helped launch Pin Oak's now-deceased flagship stallion, Maria's Mon.

"It's amazing how we've gotten so lucky over the years, going back to Monarchos," Pin Oak manager Clifford Barry said of the farm's relationship with the Squireses. "There's a little magic there, that's for sure. They do their homework. They breed a very good physical horse, and, the biggest thing, they know how to raise a good horse."

For Squires, there's another point of pride, too.

"Every one of these runners we got from a stud fee of $15,000 or less," Squires said. "It can be done, but you've got to work at it, and you've got to have a good piece of ground and a lot of luck."

Silver Wagon in November sale

This year's Carter Handicap winner, Silver Wagon, will sell in Fasig-Tipton Kentucky's November mixed sale auction in Lexington on Nov. 4. He will be part of Herbener Farm's consignment and will be at the sale grounds from Nov. 2.

A 6-year-old Wagon Limit horse, Silver Wagon won the Carter and the 2003 Hopeful, as well as the Grade 2 General George Breeders' Cup Handicap this year and the Grade 3 Sport Page BC Handicap last season. He has placed in eight other stakes and has earnings of $1,162,193. He is out of the Darn That Alarm winner So Ritzy, who also produced multiple stakes winner Rehoboth.

Sales integrity group sets meeting

The Sales Integrity Task Force, reconstituted this year at the behest of Thoroughbred owner Jess Jackson and Kentucky's legislature, will hold a public meeting to unveil its preliminary recommendations at 1 p.m. Oct. 15 in the Keeneland sale pavilion. Specifically, the task force will discuss its recommendations regarding disclosure of sale horses' ownership and medication records and the topic of licensing of bloodstock agents.

The session will consist of presentations by several task force members and a time for audience members to pose questions.

* Champion Stevie Wonderboy and Grade 1 winner Flashy Bull will begin their stud careers at Airdrie Stud in Midway, Ky., for fees of $17,500 and $10,000, respectively.

* Gibson County (In Excess-Miss Gibson County, by Winrightt), the sire of 2007 Debutante Stakes third-place finisher American County, will relocate to Ocala Stud in Florida for 2008. He previously stood at CloverLeaf Farms II, which has closed. No fee was announced.