03/28/2003 1:00AM

Fla. breeding: Inoculation best way to avoid West Nile virus


North Florida had more rain than usual this winter. With the rains come swollen swamps and mosquito-infested waters. Mosquitoes are the agents for West Nile virus, which has hit horses - including breeding stock - throughout North America.

Dr. Carol Clark, an Ocala veterinarian, counsels breeders to inoculate their stock for West Nile and then follow up with periodic booster shots from the fourth-through-ninth months after, and then to administer a booster every four months.

"Broodmares pass along immunity to their nursing foals, but if the broodmare has not been inoculated, then the foal should be placed on the same regimen." said Clark, who admits veterinarians are still learning the best way to treat West Nile.

Birds and mosquitoes are common carriers of West Nile. Studies show that infected birds suffer a high mortality rate, and evidence of dead birds is a warning sign that West Nile may be present.

Tell-tale signs of equine exposure include: lack of coordination, general malaise and weakness, and muscle twitching, especially in the face and the hind quarters.

Plenty of stakes success

Florida firsts this past week include the first stakes winner for the young sire Cyberspace. His daughter Cyber Secret, bred by Earl and Teresa Pierpont, won the Grade 3 Cicada Stakes at Aqueduct March 22.

Cyberspace, who stands at the Pierponts' Stonebridge Farm, is a 9-year-old son of Forty Niner-Video, by Nijinsky II. Cyberspace is a half-brother to the Grade 1 stakes winner and sire Scan and is out of a full sister to the successful sire Caerleon. Cyber Secret, from the first crop of Cyberspace, is a Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale alumnus, and her latest victory boosted earnings to just under $180,000.

At Suffolk Downs, Florida-bred Seattle Surprise won the $35,000 Rudy Baez Stakes for 3-year-olds at one mile. Seattle Surprise is the first stakes winner for Devongate, who did not race before entering stud and is no longer a stallion.

A full brother to A.P. Indy, Devongate began his career as a 4-year-old stallion at Brian and Valery Mills's Devonia Stud, the breeder of Seattle Surprise. Three years later he suffered a testicular malady that required him to be gelded. An attempt was made to make a racehorse out of him, but his racing career was terminated after three starts, the best of which was a third-place finish at Tampa Bay Downs.

Other Florida-bred stakes winners over the past week include the Farnsworth Farms-bred King Robyn. A Robyn Dancer gelding, King Robyn won the $75,000 San Pedro Stakes at Santa Anita. It was his first stakes win.

Robyn Dancer stands at Farnsworth Farms.

Admiral Lance, bred and owned by James Little, won his first stakes, taking the $50,000 Budweiser Challenge Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. Admiral Lance is from the seventh crop of Formal Dinner, who was North America's 2002 leading juvenile sire of winners with 27 winners from 57 starters.

Formal Dinner is syndicated and stands at Hidden Point Farm.

Quick Draw, winner of the $50,000 Hansel Stakes at Turfway, is Florida-bred but not sired by a resident Florida stallion. A 3-year-old filly, Quick Draw was bred by Superfine Farms Inc. and is by Tale of the Cat.

Smok'n Frolic, by Smoke Glacken-Cherokyfrolicflash, by Green Dancer, won the Grade 3 Next Move Handicap at Aqueduct. Her dam is a stakes placed full sister to the graded stakes winner and sire Fabulous Frolic, who stands at Bill and Lyn Rainbow's The Acorn Farm in Ocala.