Updated on 09/17/2011 10:57AM

Fla. breeding: For Montbrook, his best years at stud may be ahead

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"I liked him the minute he got off the van," recalled Karl Koontz.

Koontz, longtime in-house bloodstock consultant to Mike O'Farrell's Ocala Stud, was talking about Montbrook. It was 1995 and Montbrook was going to stand at Ocala Stud, where he was foaled.

Today, Montbrook, 13, is one of Florida's top sires. He led Florida's sire roster in progeny earnings in 2002 ($3.7 million) and 14 of his 110 runners won or placed in stakes. Montbrook's future looks even brighter. He is the sire of a leading Triple Crown candidate, Trust N Luck, winner of the Grade 1 Fountain of Youth Stakes, and he is the sire of the $1.2 million sale topper at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Feb. 4 sale at Calder Race Course.

Although he was a sprinter on the track, some of Montbrook's offspring have had success at a route, and his get "can handle any kind of footing," Koontz said.

Montbrook had been the star of the 1992 Ocala Breeders' 2-year-olds in training sale at Calder, going to Israel Cohen for a sales-topping $260,000. Like many of Cohen's sales purchases of that era, he went from being a seemingly precocious 2-year-old prospect ready to run to a late bloomer.

Montbrook did not race at 2. At 3, his only season to race, he made eight starts, all in the Midatlantic region, winning the Grade 3 DeFrancis Memorial at Laurel, the Grade 3 Riva Ridge Stakes at Belmont, and three other sprint stakes. He retired with earnings of $373,728.

Montbrook's reception at stud was strong from the beginning. He was syndicated into 40 shares at $10,000 per share, and the shares sold quickly. Today, Koontz said, a share in Montbrook would go for $80,000-$100,000.

"He went to stud with a full book and then some right from the start," Koontz said.

Montbrook is from the line of Buckpasser. Florida has been fertile country for the Buckpasser line. Bucksplasher (who stands at Irish Acres Farm) is Buckpasser's leading active son at stud. Silver Buck stood in Florida for the latter part of his stud career, siring Silver Charm. Lite the Fuse (Adena Springs South) and That's Our Buck (Rising Hill Farm) are both promising young Florida sires from the Buckpasser line.

Montbrook's dam, Secret Papers, and her sire, Jet Diplomacy, are both Ocala Stud produce. In fact Ocala Stud has been developing this family for three generations, starting with Old Bess (by Vincentive) in the 1960's.

Israel Cohen had long been a patron of Ocala Stud. In addition to buying millions of dollars worth of Ocala Stud homebreds at the 2-year-old sales, he also patronized the Ocala Stud facilities. Not all his purchases were Ocala Stud homebreds. Cohen went to the Keeneland July sale in 1988 and bought for $1.4 million the younger full brother to the two-time Grade 1 winner and successful sire Jade Hunter (by Mr. Prospector-Jadana, by Pharly). Named Gallant Prospector, the colt did not get to the races.

"Mr. Cohen thought Gallant Prospector would fit well in the Florida breeding program," said Koontz. "But, he failed to make an impression. When Mr. Cohen died some 10 years ago, Gallant Prospector went into the dispersal and was sold to breeders from the Caribbean."

27 Florida-breds in Fasig-Tipton sale

The annual Fasig-Tipton selected sale of 2-year-olds in training will be held Tuesday at Calder Race Course. The sale begins at 11 a.m.

Fasig-Tipton has cataloged 321 for the sale and 27 are Florida-breds, including Hip No. 187 a bay colt by Montbrook. He is the only get of Montbrook in this sale and is out of the stakes winner Tambien Me Voy, by Orono.

Other Florida sires with horses in this sale include Notebook, who is the sire of Hip No. 164, a filly whose first two dams are stakes winners and stakes producers. Sword Dance is the sire of Hip No. 139, a colt who has stakes-winning first and second dams. The late Tactical Advantage is the sire of Hip No. 61, a colt who is a half-brother to the graded stakes winner Lone Star Sky, second last week in the Grade 3 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds. Tour d'Or is the sire of Hip No. 294, a full brother to graded stakes winner Express Tour.