04/03/2008 11:00PM

Florida-breds claim riches at home and abroad


It was a good week for the home team. Florida-breds won two of the races at the Dubai Racing Festival and several stakes on the home front. And the Florida-bred Smooth Air earned a trip to Louisville next month when he finished second to the unbeaten Big Brown, the possible Kentucky Derby favorite, in the $1 million Florida Derby.

This past Saturday's successful run of Florida-breds began in Dubai, where Benny the Bull, by Lucky Lionel out of Comet Cat (by Birdonthewire), won the $2 million Golden Shaheen. The 5-year-old Benny the Bull was bred at William Shively's Tomoka Hills Farm.

Mr. and Mrs. Sam Rogers, who have been doing business for decades at The Acorn, gave Florida-breds another Dubai victory when their homebred Diamond Stripes won the $1 million Godolphin Mile. A gray or roan gelding, Diamond Stripes has an Ocala Stud background, being by its late sire Notebook out of Romantic Summer (by On to Glory). On to Glory stood at Ocala Stud for two decades.

Gulfstream's renewal of the Grade 1 Bonnie Miss Stakes was won by the Live Oak Stud-bred Shes All Eltish. A 3-year-old daughter of Eltish (now standing in New York), Shes All Eltish has a record of 3 wins, 3 seconds, and a third in 7 lifetime starts. At Laurel, the Harrison E. Johnson Memorial Handicap was won by Arcata. He was bred in Florida by Joseph V. Shields Jr. and is by Wagon Limit and out of Arroyo College (by Dynaformer). Oaklawn's featured race last Saturday was the Carousel Stakes and it was won by Graeme Six, a daughter of Graeme Hall out of Polish Ruby, by Polish Pro. A 4-year-old filly bred by Bill and Anabel Murphy, Graeme Six won the Pan Zareta Stakes at Fair Grounds earlier this season and had finished second in the Grade 1 Prioress last July.

A leading Florida-bred contender for this year's Kentucky Derby is Smooth Air, bred by his owner, Mount Joy Stable. The runner-up to Big Brown in the Florida Derby, Smooth Air is by Smooth Jazz out of Air France (by French Deputy). A bay colt, he won the Grade 2 Hutcheson Stakes earlier in the campaign.

Smooth Jazz had stood at Cloverleaf II but moved to New York after Cloverleaf II closed down last July. Smooth Air is from his first crop. Mount Joy Stables Inc. is the operative name for Brian Burns, an Illinois resident who boarded horses at Cloverleaf II. There are five 2-year-olds in training by Smooth Jazz cataloged for the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s spring sale of 2-year-olds, which begins on April 21.

Live Oak celebrates anniversary

Live Oak Stud's Charlotte Weber held a 40th anniversary party at her Ocala estate this past Sunday, and upwards of 300 guests enjoyed the catered affair and were subsequently treated to a spectacular fireworks show.

Live Oak Stud was built by Peter A.B. Widener III, whose mother, a member of one of the 20th century's pre-eminent American racing families, preferred her own breeding farm in Normandy, France, and raced with considerable success in Europe.

When Widener's wife died in a plane accident, he announced his intent to place the Ocala farm on the market. Charlotte Weber, a longtime friend of the Wideners, offered to buy the 1,000-acre property, and did so in 1968.

When the farm was purchased there were only three mares in residence. Its scope was expanded over the ensuing years, adding thousands of acres and many broodmares, foals, and yearlings. In recent years, Live Oak Stud has been repeatedly in the running for an Eclipse Award as the industry's leading breeder.