06/16/2006 12:00AM

Final juvenile sale on tap


Florida's 2-year-olds in training sale season has its final round beginning Tuesday. The Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s June sale has cataloged 460 2-year-olds for its two-day auction. This sale differs from the prior 2-year-old sales in that it has a component for older racehorses. There are 17 of these older horses cataloged and they, too, must go under tack for prospective buyers. Starting time for both sale sessions is 10:30 a.m.

The total number of horses sold at state's 2-year-old sales this year is 2,330, about the same as last year. The average price per horse has jumped by some 15 percent. The average price for a selected sale horse is roughly $185,000. For non-selected horses that average is just under $40,000. Last year this OBS June sale had 304 sell for an average of $18,677.

"The sale will once again get a boost with the return of the Korean Racing Association buyers," said Tom Ventura, sales director and general manager of the OBS. "They usually buy in the neighborhood of 30 2-year-olds."

Honoring Bonnie Heath

Bonnie Heath II, who died at the age of 85 in 2001, meant more to the Marion County community than being a successful horseman and hotel entrepreneur. He and his wife, Opal, were the epitome of citizenship. Heath, together with Oklahoma oil patch partner Jack Dudley, raced Florida's first champion, the Kentucky Derby and Belmont winner Needles. When Needles was retired, the partners, defying economic logic and temptation, chose to stand Needles in Ocala, where the number of quality broodmares was, perhaps, no more than a dozen. A polite refusal was given to Bull Hancock, who had sought to stand Needles at Claiborne Farm.

It was shortly after Needles retired to the newly developed Heath Farm that Heath became increasingly frustrated with the seemingly never-ending charitable and philanthropic requests by a variety of groups and foundations.

"Everyone needed a few bucks for this or that," he said to a fund-raising group in later years. "I said to myself there had to be a business way to help those who needed help and provide a way for those who wanted to help to be able to help."

Heath went to work and organized the United Appeal, which later morphed into the Marion County United Way. Twenty years later, as Ocala's horse industry was booming, he founded and chaired the Stallion Stakes Committee, which solicited stallion seasons for a fund-raising auction. He generated well over a million dollars from these annual auctions.

Last Monday, the Marion County chapter of the United Way honored Bonnie Heath by naming its new community room in his honor. Attending was a full house of friends and colleagues who knew him, as well as those who were too young to know him but felt his memory deserved their respect.

Quite a broodmare

When the Gilbert G. Campbell-bred and -owned My Friend Bren won a 2-year-old maiden special race at first asking this past Tuesday at Calder Race Course, the victory added further laurels to a broodmare who already had earned the status of blue hen. Vincesca, by Darby Creek Road, a winner herself, has 9 winners from 10 starters and 6 of them have earned black type. Vincesca, who shares a family connection with the recent Grade 2 Shuvee Handicap winner Take

D' Tour, is a pensioner nowadays, and My Friend Bren is her final foal.

My Friend Bren is by the Stonehedge Farm South stallion West Acre, an unraced half-brother by Forty Niner to Preach. Also in the immediate family is Johannesburg.

"This is the crop that's going to make this sire," said Larry King, farm manager of Stonehedge Farm South. "He's got 60 registered 2-year-olds; 6 have started and 5 have won. The word gets around. We've been getting calls to lock up West Acre seasons for next year."