03/27/2008 11:00PM

Farms forecast solid books for young sires

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The Jockey Club's records show that 211 Florida stallions covered 6,376 mares over the 2007 breeding season. This was a smaller group than in 2006, when 247 stallions were bred to 7,141 mares. Florida's 2007 freshman stallions - 13 in all - had an average book of 75 mares each, in a wide range from 177 to 15.

First-time stallions have a way of becoming fashionable only to lose some of their patina when their second season comes. Declan Doyle, stallion manager of The Vinery, calls the phenomenon the "flavor of the month."

Three stallions currently at The Vinery accounted for more than a third of all the mares covered by Florida newcomers in '07. Congrats covered 172 mares, Pomeroy covered 150 mares, and Fire Slam covered 49 mares in Florida and 90 in Argentina.

"Fire Slam stood for $6,500 last year, a bit too high," Doyle said. "We lowered his fee to $4,000 and interest has picked up. He'll get 70 or so this year and we'll have to wait and see about shuttling to Argentina."

The Vinery tends to be more conservative than some when it comes to what constitutes a full book.

"We limit the book number to 130," said Doyle, "and Congrats will reach that number. Pomeroy will get about 100."

Both horses stood 2007 at Cloverleaf Farms II, moving to The Vinery when Cloverleaf closed its Florida operation.

When Doyle was asked to account for the seeming loss in popularity for The Vinery's stallion Peace Rules, whose first crop of runners will go postward this year, he said: "It is not unusual in this business for breeders to sit back and wait and see how a stallion's get do at the races. We've got five that we are preparing to run at Keeneland next month. If a couple of them win there, the phones will be ringing."

Lambholm South has a tougher row to hoe. It has two second-year stallions with 2007 bookings that were below the average for this group. Agnes Gold is a Japanese-bred, Grade 2 stakes-winning son of Sunday Silence from the family of Fappiano. While technically a Florida first-season sire, Agnes Gold left three crops in his homeland. The first of those crops raced last year and did well, with 11 known winners, turf and dirt, from more than 20 starters.

"Due to a USDA quarantine mix-up, we had to delay AG's covering of mares until last April," said Angela Palacios, stallion coordinator for Lambholm South. "We were able to get 15 mares covered, and from these covers, there are now two foals on the ground, a colt and a filly. The owners like them, and as the word spreads, we should do all right here, as we already have more booked than AG covered in 2007."

Leading the Parade got 44 mares last year. The Lambholm South stallion is an A.P. Indy chestnut 7-year-old out of the Grade 1 winner My Flag, dam of champion Storm Flag Flying. His second dam is the champion Personal Ensign. Leading the Parade was stakes-placed.

"He has the genes and the looks to make a solid sire," said Palacios. "We are confident that he'll get 50 or more mares this year."

Bill Murphy is the stallion manager for Sabre d'Argent, who moved over from Double Diamond Farm to Bridlewood Farm for 2008. Sabre d'Argent, despite his French moniker, is 100 percent American, being by Kris S. and a half-brother to Exchange Rate. No one ever suggested that Murphy lacks ebullience when it comes to Sabre d'Argent.

"His first foals are gorgeous," he said. "There are 12 of them already. You know, if this horse stood in Kentucky, they'd be lining up to breed to him. It looks like we'll have to settle for 75 mares or thereabouts - maybe more?"

Get Away Farm stands the second-season stallion Imperialism. The gray or roan stallion by Langfuhr covered 72 mares in '07 and his book has been closed at 100 for 2008.

"We promoted him and he promoted himself," said Get Away's manager, Larry Anderson. When asked to clarify, Anderson said that much of Imperialism's popularity can be attributed to his first foals: "Breeders like what they are getting."

The farm also stands the popular sire Double Honor.

"He's got 100 mares, too," said Anderson. "I am getting the word out that says, 'Thank you, breeders, but we're all booked up. How about next year?' "