10/13/2006 12:00AM

Dragone sees bright NYTB future


Chris Dragone, recently named executive director for New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc., is settling in at the organization's office in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Two weeks into his new position, one of Dragone's priorities is establishing personal contact with NYTB membership.

"These are exciting times for the New York breeding program, and I think the potential is just tremendous," he said. "And communication with, and within, the membership and all the outside parties is number one."

Dragone is the son of the late Allan Dragone, who served as board chairman of the New York Racing Association.

Chris Dragone left a position as senior vice president and general manager of the Maryland Jockey Club, and has also served as general manager of Portland Meadows Race Track.

The family owns December Hill Farm in New Jersey, which raced graded stakes winners Changing Ways, Old Chapel, Pennine Ridge, and Vergennes.

December Hill Farm has been in the breeding business for 35 years, and Dragone has long had an interest in New York. He is planning on starting a farm in the state and bringing his broodmares here.

Dragone is paying close attention to the two major issues in New York racing today: the potential for horsemen with respect to video lottery terminals at Aqueduct and the state franchise review process.

"We will continue to cooperate with the various entities in the New York industry in order to continue the success of New York breeding," he said.

As for the NYTB's education programs, their reputation in the industry is excellent, Dragone said. "We are going to continue them," he added. "They are invaluable, and I think every breeder should take advantage of them."

Dragone replaces Dennis Brida as executive director of the NYTB.

Brida accepted a position this summer as executive vice president of racing operations and industry relations with Empire Racing Associates, one of the groups seeking the New York racing franchise.

Fleet Indian going up for sale this fall

Fleet Indian moved closer to an Eclipse Award as champion older female with a courageous victory in the Grade 1 Beldame Stakes last weekend at Belmont Park.

A 5-year-old New York-bred daughter of Indian Charlie, and bred by Becky Thomas and Lewis Lakin, Fleet Indian won the Grade 1 Personal Ensign Handicap at Saratoga in her previous outing.

Fleet Indian extended her winning streak to eight and is unbeaten in six starts this year. She has won 12 of 17 starts.

Owned by Paul H. Saylor, she has earned $1,704,513 and is scheduled to be offered by Taylor Made Sales at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale this fall.

Fleet Indian is out of Hustleeta, a daughter of Afleet who is a half-sister to graded-stakes-placed Cherokee Wonder.

Fleet Indian was first bought for $40,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale, then resold for $230,000 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. March sale of 2-year-olds in training. Fleet Indian was purchased by Saylor for $290,000 last January.

In the Beldame, she defeated four Gradeo1 winners.

She has also won the Grade 3 Next Move on the Aqueduct inner dirt, the Grade 3 Sixty Sails at Hawthorne, and the Obeah and Grade 2 Delaware Handicap at Delaware Park.

Fleet Indian is aiming for the Breeders' Cup Distaff on Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs.

New York-bred Admiral Bird wins at Keeneland

New York-bred juvenile Admiral Bird won an allowance race at 1 1/16 miles on turf at Keeneland last weekend, for his second win in three starts.

In his previous race, he ran second in the With Anticipation Stakes at Saratoga.

Bred by Dr. Doug Koch's Berkshire Stud in Rhinebeck, Admiral Bird - a son of Royal Academy - was purchased by Dogwood Stable for $250,000 at the Keeneland April 2-year-olds in training sale.

He is out of the Mt. Livermore mare Sea Puffin, who is a half-sister to the outstanding producer Merion Miss.

Merion Miss is the dam of New York-breds Private Emblem, winner of the Grade 2 Arkansas Derby; Rhum, winner of the Ticonderoga Handicap; and Taghkanic, placed in the Broadway Handicap.

Also in this family are Megaturn, winner of the Grade 3 Assault Handicap, and former New York sire Dixie Brass, winner of the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap.

Trained by Christophe Clement, Admiral Bird has two wins and a second from three starts, and earnings of $70,744.