05/20/2004 11:00PM

Golden Eagle juggles roster


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The recent sale of the stallion Avenue of Flags to New Mexico is the first of several changes to the stallion roster at the storied Golden Eagle Farm in Ramona.

Business manager Janine McCullough said Thursday that Golden Eagle is reevaluating the other five members of its stallion roster. She said another defection from the list and two additions are likely before the 2005 breeding season.

Avenue of Flags, a 16-year-old by Seattle Slew, will stand at Double L Farms in Brosque, N.M., and was sold to unnamed buyers. His departure leaves Golden Eagle Farms with three stallions by Seattle Slew - General Meeting (who stands for $20,000), Event of the Year ($10,000), and King of the Hunt ($4,000). Golden Eagle also stands High Demand ($7,500), who is by Danzig, and River Flyer ($3,000), who is by Riverman.

"I plan on having six stallions on the roster and that will include two new stallions," McCullough said. "We still plan on reducing another, but I can't say who."

She emphasized that General Meeting would not be leaving Golden Eagle Farm.

Avenue of Flags was bred to about a half-dozen mares this year, according to McCullough. Avenue of Flags has sired such major stakes winners as Joey Franco (2003 Triple Bend Handicap), Belle's Flag (1997 El Encino Stakes), Fleet Lady (1998 La Canada Stakes), and Notable Career (2000 Oak Leaf Stakes). Joey Franco was the 2003 California-bred horse of the year.

In recent months, Golden Eagle directed some bookings scheduled for Avenue of Flags to the 7-year-old High Demand.

McCullough, who joined Golden Eagle last year from nearby Ballena Vista Farm, said the Mabee family, which owns Golden Eagle Farm, is looking for an established stallion and not a horse recently retired from racing.

"We're looking for something proven," she said. "A lot of stallions have been relocated - some good, some not so good. We're not looking to bring in something that is failing. We want something that will work in California.

"We're working with people and trying to be picky. This plan is a three- to five-year plan. If we don't hurry up and find something, we won't hurry."

With the breeding season winding down, negotiations have yet to begin in earnest with other stallion owners, she said.

McCullough cited Beau Genius as a successful example of a recent stallion brought to California. The 13-time stakes winner stands at Ballena Vista for $7,500.

"I was intricately involved in bringing Beau Genius to California," she said. "I think he's done well. He booked full in Kentucky and he's continuing to do well here."

Since the death of John Mabee in 2002, his wife, Betty, and son, Larry, have continued Golden Eagle's racing and breeding operation. The farm reduced its holdings in 2002 and 2003 but also bought broodmare and racing prospects at Barretts earlier this year.

McCullough said Golden Eagle Farm has 80 broodmares.

This year, for the first time, she said the farm sent mares to other California stallions such as Bertrando, Cee's Tizzy, Free House, In Excess, and Storm Creek.

"We lowered our broodmare bands and kept the same number of stallions," she said. "We want the stallions to be commercially viable."

While changes are in place for the breeding side, Golden Eagle's racing involvement has increased this year.

McCullough said Golden Eagle Farm had more starters in the first four months of this year than in all of 2003. The stable is led by Yearly Report, who won the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes on May 14 at Pimlico. She is a homebred by General Meeting.