12/31/2004 12:00AM

A good year on track and off

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The success of New York-breds on the track and at major auctions and the formation of a new sales company were among the highlights of the state Thoroughbred breeding program in 2004.

"I think it was a fantastic year," said Dennis Brida, executive director of New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc. "We attained a goal we had long sought, having one thousand members in the organization, and that means a lot to us. There was a record amount of open stakes winners that were New York-breds, some 40 on the year, and we formed a new sales company that has a promising future.

"The New York Racing Association carded a record 27 percent of its races for New York-breds. And purses at Finger Lakes went up 41 percent, thanks to the VLT's. I think things have never been better."

Martin G. Kinsella, executive director of the New York State Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund Corporation, said his organization's revenue in 2004 was aided by the video lottery terminals at Finger Lakes and by evening simulcasting at offtrack betting parlors.

The fund, created in 1973, administers an incentive program worth nearly $40 million to participants in the state breeding program.

"We're particularly proud of the growth in foal production in New York in recent years," said Kinsella. "New York has seen an increase of 30 percent during the last four years, as compared to the national growth of a little more than 2 percent for the same period. That's recognition of the hard work and investment of the people who own breeding farms."

The New York foal crop grew from 1,672 in 2000 to 2,183 in 2003, and will come in above 2,000 for 2004.

"These numbers are important, because they show that the Funny Cide experience in the Derby was not a flash-in-the-pan thing for New York," said Kinsella. "His accomplishments brought deserved attention to New York, but there were many other open stakes winners while he was going through the Triple Crown, which reflected the overall strength of this program. I'd like to get to the point where having a New York-bred win a Triple Crown race is a common thing."

On the track, two Grade 1 races were won by New York-breds.

Funny Cide, who earned an Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old male in 2003 for his win in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, won the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup on Oct. 2 at Belmont Park, defeating Grade 1 winners The Cliff's Edge and Evening Attire.

Funny Cide increased his career earnings to $3,174,485, tops among the 16 New York-breds who have earned more than $1 million.

Statebreds again made a mark on the Triple Crown trail, topped by Friends Lake, winner of the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 13 at Gulfstream Park.

Bred and owned by Chester and Mary Broman, Friends Lake won the Sleepy Hollow Stakes as a 2-year-old against fellow New York-breds.

Read the Footnotes, who fetched a sale-topping $320,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Eastern May 2-year-old in training sale in 2003, won the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes in a thriller over Second of June on Feb. 14 at Gulfstream Park.

It was his third straight graded stakes win, along with the Grade 3 Nashua and Grade 2 Remsen as a juvenile.

Read the Footnotes was bred by Lawrence Goichman.

Completing a trio of talented runners on the classics trail was Little Matth Man, who won the Whirlaway Stakes at Aqueduct on Feb. 7. He was bred by Jill P. and Edward Michaels.

As a new year gets under way, Galloping Grocer could be yet another New York-bred on the Triple Crown trail.

The winner of the Sleepy Hollow Stakes, Galloping Grocer was edged by Rockport Harbor in a thrilling running of the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 27.

Other New York-breds who won graded stakes last year were Well Fancied, winner of the Grade 2 General George and Grade 3 Toboggan; Quantum Merit, winner of the Grade 2 Firecracker; Capeside Lady, winner of the Grade 2 Monmouth Oaks; and Megascape, winner of the Grade 3 Valley Stream.

Meanwhile, last summer, a group of New York breeders proposed the formation of the New York Breeders Sales Company, an idea that took off rapidly and attracted 40 founding shareholders at $15,000 per share.

The company held a two-day mixed sale at Saratoga Race Course on Sept. 28-29, which grossed $1,230,000. Another sale is planned for 2005.

* New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc. recently held elections for its board. Barbara Brewer, Thomas J. Gallo III, and Michael McMahon were re-elected for two-year terms, and also elected were Stephen DiMauro and Harry L. Landry.

* The New York State Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund recently moved to new offices in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.