Updated on 09/17/2011 10:34AM

Florida breeding: Bloodstock community loses a couple more

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Two more well-known Ocala horsemen died recently. The first was Robert Gaudio Jr. A former Cleveland Browns lineman, he died May 10 in south Florida at the age of 77. The next was Robert Candow, founder of Southeast Bloodstock Agency, who died May 15 in Ocala's Munroe Regional Medical Center at the age of 62.

These deaths come on the heels of the recently departed Elmer F. Heubeck Jr., Scott Dudley, and Frank "Buddy" Yates - all prominent Florida breeders and farm owners.

Gaudio, owner of a construction company in the Fort Lauderdale area, moved with wife, Jackie, to Ocala in the early 1970's and began a commercial breeding operation that they named J and B Farm. Gaudio was an ebullient man who developed lasting friendships with George Steinbrenner, Harry T. Mangurian Jr., and Heubeck.

Gaudio was one of the founders of the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company and lent the company $250,000 in seed money to get it underway.

"We could not have done it without him," said Norman E. Casse, chairman of the board of the OBS who, like Gaudio, is one of the founders. "Bob was a quiet man with a great sense of humor. He did a lot of good things for a lot of people and organizations. And he did a lot for this industry."

Candow's life was the stuff of a good novel. Growing up in Massachusetts, he first made his mark handling champion Dalmatians on the New England dog show circuit. All the while he was learning riding skills, and ultimately transferred his horsemanship to Suffolk Downs, where he became an exercise rider before moving on to Ocala in 1972 at the age of 32.

Candow initially took a job as a feed salesman. He soon was hustling as a salesman of horse-related products and services, and rapidly made a name for himself with the local Thoroughbred community. Joe O'Farrell of Ocala Stud admired his hustle and gave Candow the opportunity to sell Ocala Stud stallion seasons. This paved the way to Candow's founding of the Southeast Bloodstock Agency in 1975 and to a close working arrangement with the late Virginia-based bloodstock agent Tyson Gilpin. Candow's first home run as a bloodstock agent was the sale of the Ocala Stud stallion Explodent to Gainesway Farm in Kentucky for $3.7 million.

The years between 1972 and 1985 were good ones for Candow. His annual Ocala Week parties of the late 1970's and early '80's catered to thousands of locals and visitors and were as extravagant as they were popular. Candow was never modest when talking about the role his Southeast Bloodstock Sales Agency played in the Florida market.

As his fortune grew so did his family, as he and wife, Donna, became parents of 11 children. In the mid-1980's, however, the Candow fortunes took a negative turn when an expensive investment in technology failed to achieve expectations. It was also the time of the federal tax law changes, and with those tax changes Thoroughbred investments fell into recession. Candow had a nearly fatal fall in 1994, and one of his children, Preston, committed suicide last year.

Candow recently turned over the operation of the family's Bolaro Farm to his son Clayton, as he concentrated on being a stallion and syndicate manager for several Meadowbrook Farm stallions.

Said Steinbrenner in a story in the Ocala Star Banner: "He, at one time, advised me on a lot of bloodstock matters. He was a hard worker who always promoted Florida's Thoroughbred industry."