10/27/2005 11:00PM

Doughnuts to dollars leads to a horse farm


"Gone West" are two words with much meaning for Manuel Andrade, one of the Ocala, Fla., area's newer Thoroughbred farm owners. A former resident of the Azores Islands who did indeed go west crossing the Atlantic to make his fortune, Andrade bought Breakaway Farm from Randy and Linda Mills some months ago and renamed it Get Away Farm. Just this past week, Andrade bought the Gone West stallion Double Honor from Farnsworth Farms.

Buying and operating a Thoroughbred farm and purchasing a leading sire are not what Andrade had in mind when he bought the 100-acre property.

"I was looking to buy some real estate for investment purposes," he said. "I had been looking at all sorts of properties, especially citrus groves."

Andrade was not turned on by the glamour of racing horses, as he had owned a couple of racehorses in a partnership some 20 years earlier. Neither was fast enough nor sound enough to be profitable.

The Andrade story reads like it was penned by Horatio Alger. Born in the Azores of a Portuguese father and an American mother - thus qualifying at that time for dual citizenship - he decided when he was a teenager that opportunity knocked in America. He contacted his mother's relatives in New Bedford, Mass., packed his tack, and soon was working in the family bakery. Among the pastry products were doughnuts. Andrade learned the doughnut-making trade, saved his money, and when the opportunity came, he bought a Dunkin' Donuts franchise. Then he bought another, and another, ultimately forming a company that owned more than 500 doughnut shops from Florida to Canada.

Nowadays, Andrade is focused on real estate. When a real estate agent showed him the Breakaway Farm property, Andrade said, it was love at first sight. There were complications involved with the purchase, though. The farm had a staff of six that had been more or less intact for a decade or more. If Andrade closed down the farm, the staff would have to have been let go.

"I got to know Larry Anderson, the Breakaway Farm manager, and got to like and respect him," Andrade said. "So, I asked him: If I keep the farm operational, can we break even? I could see the farm needed some cosmetic fixing-up, which we have already started fixing, but all in all, the place was in good shape."

The farm has four barns, 72 stalls, a breeding shed, and a half-mile training track.

The farm's manager, Anderson, was born and educated in the Ocala area. He entered the Thoroughbred world some 20 years ago, working after school and during school vacations for the late Dorothy Davis' Sunshine Stud. Upon graduation, he went to work for Breakaway Farm and climbed the managerial ladder, serving terms supervising weanlings, broodmares, yearlings, racehorses, and stallions.

Asked if the purchase of Double Honor meant that Get Away Farm had a commercial business plan, Andrade smiled and said that his plan was a work in progress.

"I bought Double Honor for the same reason that I bought the farm - a good investment," he said. "He is a top stallion, and when I checked the other day, he's Florida's leading sire in the money-won category."

Andrade says that it is premature for him to talk about being in the market for additional stallions, as he wants to see how Double Honor works out. As for adding broodmares to the mix, this, too, is to be determined, but one does get the sense that if he develops a broodmare band it will be for commercial purposes and the market rather than to resupply a racing stable.

Andrade is not that sure about his only child, a daughter, taking over the farm some day. His grandchildren, all four of them, are, however, another matter.

"They love coming here," he said, "and they seem to like the horses. Perhaps it's in the genes. You know, my father's side of the family had farms in the Azores, and when I was a kid, I worked with cattle and horses, and it's all starting to come back to me."