10/06/2005 11:00PM

Farm owner adds training to his duties


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Brookdale Farm owner Fred Seitz has made a name for himself in the horse business through his stallion farm and breeding operation. But from the time he first discovered his love of horses as a child in Monmouth County, N.J., what he really wanted to do was train.

Now, at the age of 58, Seitz is returning to that childhood dream. Based at a barn on Rice Road, which runs alongside Keeneland's backstretch, Seitz has 15 horses in training for himself and a few partners. And, yes, he has already reached the winner's circle. Through Friday, Seitz has saddled nine runners, with one winner, two seconds, and two thirds. The winner was a good one. On Sept. 2, May Night scored in Saratoga's P. G. Johnson Stakes. Seitz was scheduled to saddle Worthy Lover in a maiden special weight at Keeneland on Saturday.

Seitz got his early exposure to horses when his father, a carpenter, moved the family from New York to rural New Jersey, where he worked doing farm maintenance. Seitz started walking hots at age 10 and decided early on he wanted to pursue a career in the horse business, preferably as a trainer. But when he left the Marine Corps in 1974, he felt a trainer's life might be too transient for his own growing family. He went into the farm management, bloodstock sales, and breeding side of the game instead, finally founding Brookdale in 1983. Brookdale has since grown into one of the Thoroughbred industry's most respected establishments, both for the stallions it stands and for its sales consignments. Brookdale stood the successful sire Deputy Minister until his death in 2004 and currently stands Crafty Prospector, Forest Wildcat, Newfoundland, Silver Deputy, and With Approval.

As Seitz built Brookdale from 188 acres to 375 acres, he never lost the itch to saddle some runners of his own.

"I've always had it in the back of my mind," he said. After years of asking questions and observing trainers he knew, Seitz decided to try his hand at training. About 18 months ago, with the help of the veterinarian Dr. Dave Lambert, he started buying a few horses to stock his racing stable.

"I was just looking for a good horse," he said. "I got probably five or six grass horses and some late-maturing horses, a little of everything. I'm probably a little biased toward two-turn horses."

The 15-horse stable allows Seitz to do what he enjoys most: be a hands-on horseman. And he takes inspiration from other trainers, such as John Ward, Tony Reinstedler, Frank Brothers, and others.

"I still have a whole lot to learn," he said. "I just watch a lot of people and try to see what they do. I like to ask a lot of questions."

But Seitz hasn't quit his day job at Brookdale.

"I'm still very much in the business," he said, adding that sons Joe and Freddie have taken an active role in managing Brookdale's day-to-day activities. "I've got such good people, they can do the job for the most part without me. I kiddingly say that it was time for me to get out of the way!"

Offlee Wild's dam dies

Alvear, dam of Grade 1 winner Offlee Wild, died Thursday in Lexington of complications after surgery for an undisclosed problem. Dorothy Matz owned the 16-year-old Seattle Slew mare and boarded her at Helen Alexander's Middlebrook Farm near Lexington.

Alvear was a half-sister to the successful sire Dynaformer. A winner herself, Alvear was a daughter of Grade 1 winner Andover Way, by His Majesty. She has produced 5 winners from 6 starters, the best of whom is Offlee Wild. The Wild Again horse, now preparing to enter stud at Darley's Jonabell Farm in Kentucky, won the 2005 Suburban and Excelsior Breeders' Cup handicaps, the 2004 Massachusetts Handicap, and the 2003 Holy Bull Stakes.

Alvear's final foal is a yearling Elusive Quality filly. She also has a 2-year-old Mr. Greeley filly named Sangrita, who is in training with Michael Matz.

Alvear will be buried at Middlebrook Farm.

Stallion fees set at three farms

Three major farms - Darley, Vinery, and Three Chimneys - have released their 2006 fees.

Darley has assigned Elusive Quality, sire of 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones, a $100,000 fee, the same as in 2005. Quiet American also will remain unchanged at $20,000. Both stand for Darley at Gainsborough Farm.

Darley at Jonabell, Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum's Kentucky operation at Jonabell Farm in Lexington, will stand two new stallions this year. They are Consolidator, who commands a $20,000 fee, and Offlee Wild, who will stand for $15,000. The farm's other stallion fees remain unchanged from last year.

Vinery, meanwhile, will raise More Than Ready's fee from $20,000 to $30,000 in 2006. In other changes, Gilded Time's fee drops from $17,500 to $12,500 and Trust N Luck drops from $8,500 to $6,500. The fees for Limehouse and Purge will be set when they retire from racing.

At Three Chimneys, Smarty Jones remains the same at $100,000. Fee increases include Dynaformer's, which rises from $75,000 to $100,000, and the fee for Yes It's True, which goes from $25,000 to $35,000. Meanwhile, Rahy's fee drops from $80,000 to $75,000, and Albert the Great drops from $10,000 to $7,500.