07/21/2005 11:00PM

As Fog City splits, Bianco looks to statebreds


DEL MAR, Calif. - The swashbuckling days when Bill Bianco would pay lavish sums for yearlings and 2-year-olds in training have ended.

Bianco, a commissioner on the California Horse Racing Board, is in the midst of shifting his emphasis away from expensive purchases to California-breds. In coming months, Bianco and his family will add to their Sunset Stable, which will be based primarily in California.

"I talk a big game by being on the board and not having enough Cal-breds," Bianco said Thursday during an intermission of the CHRB meeting. "I can do more with less capital with California-breds."

Bianco and his racing partner, Bill Shimmon, are dissolving their partnership this year. Last Monday, their Fog City Stable sold Buzzards Bay for $725,000 to Gary and Wendy Broad at the conclusion of the Fasig-Tipton July yearling sale in Kentucky. Buzzards Bay won the Santa Anita Derby and finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby this year.

Broodmares owned by Fog City Stable will be sold at Keeneland in November, while Roman Ruler, the stable's remaining star 3-year-old, will go to stud in 2006, Bianco said.

Bianco's family has taken a strong interest in racing. His son, Bill Bianco III, manages the family's racing holdings, while daughters Carol Ann Bianco and Elizabeth Smith are actively involved, Bill Bianco said.

"I've got grandchildren and I want to get them involved," Bianco said. "My son has a good eye. He's working with a couple of good California farms.

"We think we have a bunch of real terrific California-breds. When you pay one price for a horse and someone makes a big offer on that horse a month later, that makes you feel good."

Between his stable and involvement on the CHRB, Bianco spends considerable time on racing matters. Bianco, 65, was in the semiconductor and biopharmaceutical business from the 1970's until he retired in the late 1990's.

By next spring, Bianco would like to have 15 racehorses on the track for Sunset Stable. Some will be homebreds, while others will be acquired at auction.

On July 10 at Hollywood Park, Sunset Stables started Ultimate Summer, who finished last in a maiden race after fighting for the early lead. The result was a disappointment, but Bianco is predicting better next time for Ultimate Summer, who is co-owned by CHRB chairman - and prominent owner-breeder - John Harris and trainer Summer Mayberry.

Bianco said Sunset Stable will be present at the Barretts October yearling sale, which this year combines Barretts's annual yearling sale with the Del Mar yearling sale. The Barretts sale annually offers a large number of California-breds.

"We will buy," Bianco said of the October sale. "How active I'll be depends on what needs we have to fill. I'd like to have younger broodmares."

In the future, some of the stable's runners will be by Bianco's stallion Gotham City, who stands at Applebite Farms in French Camp, Calif.

Gotham City is emblematic of Bianco's racing plan a few years ago. By Saint Ballado, Gotham City, 7, was purchased for $2 million by Fog City Stable, but nearly died of illness at 2 and never succeeded on the racetrack. He made only two starts, and ended his racing career as a maiden. He went to stud in 2004.

Now, Bianco is more content looking for bargains.

"I don't need to buy horses for $500,000 or $1 million," he said. "My son has bought horses for $150,000 that have generated positive cash flow. I'd like to leave some inheritance to the kids."