02/08/2018 11:56AM

Florida stallions: Youth movement begins

Serita Hult
First Dude has emerged as Florida's leading active sire.

A changing of the guard is taking place among Florida’s stallion ranks.

Familiar names will be clearing out from their entrenched spots on top of the state’s sire list in the coming years, be they the deceased Wildcat Heir or the pensioned High Cotton. Three stallions leading the youth movement’s charge to replace them are First Dude, Poseidon’s Warrior, and Treasure Beach.

First Dude, an 11-year-old son of Stephen Got Even, finished atop Florida’s active sire list by progeny earnings with just three crops of racing age on the track. A major component to the stallion’s fast start can be attributed to the success in attracting mares by the Dizney family’s Double Diamond Farm, which stands the horse after campaigning him as a homebred to a Grade 1-winning race career.

“You can ask several farms, it’s probably one of the hardest things to do, even harder than getting a Derby horse is making a stallion,” said Melissa Anthony, stallion coordinator at Double Diamond Farm. “Because there are so many good stallions that come out, and especially in Florida, there are so few mares.”

First Dude had 161 starters in 2017, the third most by a Florida sire behind standard-bearers Wildcat Heir (225) and High Cotton (163). He had 79 winners, and progeny earnings of $3,653,163.

In the overall Florida earnings race, including active and non-active sires, First Dude trailed only Wildcat Heir’s $6,327,120 from 225 runners and 141 winners. Wildcat Heir died prior to the 2015 breeding season.

Leading the way among First Dude’s runners in 2017 was Skye Diamonds, then a 4-year-old filly whose West Coast-based campaign featured victories in the Grade 2 Great Lady M. Stakes, the Grade 3 Rancho Bernardo Handicap, and the Dream of Summer Stakes. She finished last year’s campaign with a fourth-place effort in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Del Mar.

Other runners of note for First Dude last year included Grade 3-placed stakes winner Shamrock Rose and stakes winners Mama Joyce and Gray Dude.

“He puts such a good mind on them,” Anthony said. “I think that’s why his babies have done so well as 2-year-olds. They just get into the race where the other babies just fall apart and wash out, and if you have a jock that has calm hands and can just get them relaxed, they just tend to relax.”

First Dude also was Florida’s top active sire by turf earnings, with 74 runners and 17 winners making $827,030.

Skye Diamonds also was the top performer for First Dude by Beyer Speed Figures, accounting for all five of the sire’s 90 or better efforts. Her highest Beyer, a 99, came in the Great Lady M., a 6 1/2-furlong race in July at Los Alamitos. She also picked up a 97 for her victory in the Rancho Bernardo at the same distance in August at Del Mar.

First Dude will stand the 2018 breeding season for an advertised fee of $10,000.

Florida’s freshman sire rankings were dominated by residents of Pleasant Acres Stallions in Morriston, Fla., with Poseidon’s Warrior edging out fellow roster member Treasure Beach by just $10,027. The two young stallions finished 12th and 13th in North America’s overall freshman sire race by earnings, the highest finishes for any sire standing outside of Kentucky.

Poseidon’s Warrior, a 10-year-old son of Speightstown, was represented by 29 runners and six winners, with earnings of $598,466. The majority of his winnings came courtesy of Firenze Fire, who racked up wins in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes and Grade 3 Sanford Stakes and competed in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

Firenze Fire made his sire one of just three freshmen with a runner that earned a 90-plus Beyer in 2017, picking up a 90 for his Champagne score going a mile at Belmont in October. The colt has carried his winning form into his 3-year-old campaign, with a score in the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct on Jan. 13 to kick off his season.

Poseidon’s Warrior will stand the upcoming season for $6,500.

Treasure Beach had 32 starters last year, and his 14 winners was the most by a Florida freshman on the season. The 10-year-old Galileo horse finished with earnings of $588,439.

Stakes-placed Seattle Treasure and Tigerbeach earned the first black type for Treasure Beach. However, his highest Beyer came from Ambassador Jim, who earned a 78 for winning a six-furlong Belmont maiden special weight in October.

Treasure Beach is advertised for $10,000.