05/04/2006 11:00PM

Gibson County a fast horse off to fast start


May is when the 2-year-old season gathers steam, and five Florida-based stallions are already off the mark with winners and three of them are represented by a first crop at the races.

Gibson County (In Excess-Miss Gibson County, by Winrightt) has only 13 registered 2-year-olds in this, his first crop. Three of them have raced and two have won, collectively earning $76,515 and putting the McKathan Farm stallion on top of the state's 2-year-old earnings list.

A sprinter, Gibson County competed on the West Coast. He raced five seasons and won three stakes and was Grade 2-placed.

Gibson County's family has its share of speed links. His dam, Miss Gibson County, was a crack sprinter and won 11 races in 22 starts. She won 8 stakes and placed in 3 others. She is a full sister to the multiple stakes-winning sprinter Big Jewel ($515,055), a current Florida sire, and to five-time stakes winner Charlie's Paradise, also a sprinter.

The farm's J.B. McKathan said he expected the Gibson County 2-year-olds to be quick.

"I've got a couple who haven't run yet that can really fly," he said. "Don't know how far they'll go, but if they go as far as Gibson County did, I'm not worrying."

A Florida stallion with a debut winner is Hidden Point Farm's Three Wonders (Storm Cat-Wood of Binn, by Woodman). A Grade 3 stakes winner, Three Wonders has a first crop of 45. He, too, has had three race, with Pete's Wonder his debut winner at Woodbine.

Three Wonders has been well received at both the '05 yearling sales (35 averaged $29,211) and at this year's selected 2-year-old auctions. At the Ocala Breeders' Sales sale of 2-year-olds in training at Calder in January, two of the three offered brought bids of $100,000 plus.

There are at least eight stallions in Florida who are either sons of Unbridled or grandsons of the late champion. Unbridled Time (Unbridled's Song-Haveaheavenlytime, by Halo) is one of them. The gray stallion holds court at Signature Stallions ($5,000 fee) where he has been bred to approximately 300 mares over the past three seasons.

"We have 70 booked to him so far this year and I expect he'll get another 30 or so before the breeding shed is closed," said Denise Lingenfelter of Signature Stallions.

Unbridled Time was himself quick off the mark. He won early on in his 2-year-old campaign and took the WHAS-11 Stakes at Churchill Downs on Derby Day 2001. The following year he carried his speed around two turns, winning the Cleveland Gold Cup and the Green Carpet Handicap. He also placed in the Oklahoma Derby.

There's more stamina than speed in Unbridled Time's family. So, it came as a mild surprise when his first runner, Really Big Time, won at four furlongs in Puerto Rico. An even bigger surprise, according to Lingenfelter, was another of Unbridled Time's 2-year-olds earning a check going twofurlongs at Santa Anita.

Halo is the sire line of Flame Thrower, who is at Clover Leaf Farms II, and Halo's Image, who is at Bridlewood Farm. Both sires have 2-year-old get in the '06 win column.

Florida is Storm Cat territory

Twenty-five years ago the stallion with the most number of sons standing in Florida was Bold Ruler, followed by Never Bend. Rounding out the top four were the Australian Noholme II and Florida's own In Reality.

Nowadays the leader is Storm Cat with at least 11 known sons standing in the Sunshine State. Mr. Prospector is next with seven. A.P. Indy has six sons currently employed in Florida and, no doubt, more are on the way.