01/26/2007 1:00AM

Fresh from Japan to the Sunshine State


Six years ago Roy Lerman moved his Thoroughbred operation from Middleburg, Va., to Ocala, Fla. The site he selected was Brookside Farm, the property of the late Allen Paulson. This property and its facilities have had frequent changes of ownership over the decades, and earlier this year it had another. Lambholm South, as Lerman named his Ocala operation, relocated a few furlongs west to the former Hobeau Farm.

The 1,700-acre Hobeau Farm was owned by Jack Dreyfus Jr. Hobeau Farm had been an Ocala fixture for nearly a half-century.

"The place needed some fixing and some improvements," said Lerman. "And that's what we're doing."

Among the improvements is a new training barn with 112 stalls. The barn is designed in the form of an "X," and each wing has a courtyard. In the courtyards are European hot-walkers with additional training equipment ergonomically placed.

"Hobeau Farm had one of the Ocala area's first mile training tracks," said Lerman. "We've kept it intact and have refurbished it. We've also added a turf gallop."

The Lambholm South stallion barn has six residents and will soon have another. Joining Alysweep, Express Tour, Leading the Parade, Lido Palace, Max's Pal, and Safe in the U S A, is the Japanese-bred Agnes Gold.

Agnes Gold is the first graded or group stakes-winning son of Sunday Silence to stand in Florida, Lerman said. And he adds that the newcomer's family is all Florida, with family roots tracing to Fappiano and the millionaire Clabber Girl.

Agnes Gold was bred and raced by Teruya Yoshida, owner of Shadai Farm in Japan. A winner of his only start at 2, the bay horse won 3 of his 6 starts as a 3-year-old while placing once. Among his victories was a Grade 2 race at 1 1/16 miles and a Grade 3 race at 1 3/16 miles. He retired with the equivalent of $1.1 million in earnings.

"Mr. Yoshida retired him to stud and he was well received," said Lerman. "His first get race this year in Japan and there are 45 going to the races."

When asked why the move to the U.S. before the stallion had an opportunity to make his mark in his own country, Lerman said that he wondered about that as well, but then he was told that the late Sunday Silence has 26 Group 1 winners standing in Japan. Agnes Gold has two group-winning full brothers, so Lerman understands why it makes economic sense for Yoshida to plant fresh seeds in new pastures.

"Here's a horse by an Eclipse champion Horse of the Year who is out of a family which includes Fappiano," Lerman said. "True, Sunday Silence did make his mark as a sire of turf horses, but that's understandable as almost all the world's best races outside the U.S.A. are run on the turf. Sunday Silence, however, won the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup Classic on the dirt.

"American racing is switching over to all-weather surfaces. Racehorses with pedigrees that appear to be compatible with all types surfaces will be in great demand."

Agnes Gold is scheduled to leave Japan this week for quarantine in New York and then move on to Lambholm South with an expected arrival in the Ocala area of early February.

Agnes Gold will stand for $5,000 live foal, with special considerations to those who race. He will be nominated to the Breeders' Cup and Florida Stallion Stakes.

"I know Agnes Gold is late to the Florida venue, but considering what he brings to this market, I am confident that he will be well received," Lerman said.

* Catalogs for the Ocala Breeders' Sale's selected sale of 2-year-olds in training are out and in the mail. The traditional venue for the Feb. 13 auction has been changed from Calder Race Course to Ocala. The sale is preceded by the annual one-day festival of racing, which is scheduled for Feb. 12. Two of the six stakes, the $45,000 Florida Charities for 3-year-olds and older at five furlongs, and the $45,000 Florida Breeders Distaff at 1 1/16 miles for fillies and mares, close for nominations on Monday. For information and to nominate, phone the OBS at (352) 237-2154.