06/10/2004 11:00PM

Freshman class of '04 looking good


The curtain comes down on the 2004 Florida calendar of 2-year-olds in training auctions Tuesday and Wednesday with the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's June sale. There are 500 2-year-olds cataloged along with 33 horses older than 2. The second and final under-tack session is scheduled for Sunday at 8 a.m. Monday has been set aside by the OBS to give buyers a chance to look over the sales horses.

This year's group of Florida freshman sires, many of whom are represented in the June sale, was quick off the mark, and with each passing week more and more of this group are adding to their stats. Lunarpal, by the Hartley/DeRenzo and Walmac South stallion Successful Appeal, added more black type to his r?sum? when he won the Grade 3 Kentucky Breeders' Cup Stakes on Belmont Day. The win boosted Lunarpal's bankroll to $182,993.

The next afternoon at Calder Race Course, the $150,000 February 2004 OBS purchase B.B. Best followed up his near 15-length victorious debut with the easiest sort of gallop in an overnight stakes for 2-year-olds. Owned by Bea Oxenberg and Laurie Plesa, B. B. Best is by the Padua Stable sire Yes It's True

Signature Stallions' Straight Man, by Saint Ballado, has had his second winner from four runners. Other freshman stallions who have had winning offspring are Dance Master, by Gone West, also a Padua Stable resident stallion; Tiger Ridge, by Storm Cat, at Hartley-DeRenzo; and Running Stag, by Cozzene, standing at Frank Stronach's Adena Springs Farm.

All of Florida's freshman sires have one or more offspring in the June sale. Straight Man leads the pack with eight cataloged, Yes It's True follows with seven.

Different kind of sire

The 22-year-old Florida-based stallion Stack has three horses, all older than 2, in the OBS June sale. Stack, who stands at Pinecrest Stable, is a son of Nijinsky II and a half-brother to Forty Niner. He is not your typical Florida sire in that he rarely gets a 2-year-old winner. Stack, bred by Claiborne Farm, sires mostly turf performers and they tend to be late bloomers. Among his three in the sale, two are geldings and one is a gray 5-year-old mare.

Hands-on experience

Hall of Fame jockey Jacinto Vasquez watched the Belmont in Ocala, Fla. Vasquez is pretty much an Ocala homebody these days and seldom takes the young horses and lay-ups he works with to the racetrack. He prefers to prepare them for racing and let others take over once the horses are ready for competition. "Can't play golf in the barn area," he said.

Following a review of the Belmont Stakes, Vasquez paused for a few moments, as if trying to remember all it was that he wanted to recall.

"You know," said Vasquez, "I don't know too much about the sire of Smarty Jones, or the sire's pedigree, except that Elusive Quality is by Gone West. And, Gone West was a middle-distance horse. But I do know all about Smarty Jones's family, because I rode a bunch of the family for Sunshine Calvert, who was training for Mrs. [Frances] Genter.

"Let's see, I rode Smarty Jones's grandsire Smile, his second dam Dont Worry About Me - won a small stakes on her at Hialeah - and I rode her sire, Foolish Pleasure, for Waldemar Farm and LeRoy Jolley. They were all fast but, except for Foolish Pleasure, none of them wanted to go any further than six or seven furlongs. [Stewart Elliott] did all he could do. The Belmont was just a little too far for his horse."