04/08/2004 11:00PM

Halo's Image takes top spot among stallions

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The first-quarter data for 2004 is on record and the numbers are bullish for much of Florida's Thoroughbred industry. All the Florida sales, mixed as well as 2-year-old auctions, have been either approached or broken records.

A newcomer at the top of Florida's leading sire roster is Halo's Image. Halo's Image is a son of Halo out of the stakes-winning Valid Appeal mare Sugar's Image. The late Valid Appeal has been for several years Florida's leading broodmare sire.

The 13-year-old Halo's Image stands at Bridlewood Farm, and his first-quarter numbers read 56 starters, 12 winners, and two stakes winners, including Southern Halo, winner of the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap. The progeny of Halo's Image earned over $1.4 million in the first quarter of this year. He is standing this season for $7,000 live foal.

"Halo's Image's book was closed by January," said George Isaacs, general manager of Bridlewood. "Since his book is full, there is no advertised change in his fee - not this year. But you can be sure his fee will be considerably higher next year."

Montbrook, standing at Ocala Stud, was runner-up to Halo's Image in the money-won category for the quarter, with $700,000 in earnings. He had 62 runners, 23 winners, and three stakes winners. Third in the earnings category is a Franks Farms stallion, Kissin Kris, with $550,000, from 75 runners, 24 winners, and two stakes winners.

Family Calling leads second-crop sires

Florida's top second-crop sire is Family Calling, standing at Hidden Point Farm. In 2003-04, Family Calling, a son of Mr. Prospector, has had 50 starters and 25 winners, for earnings of more than $800,000. Precocity, by Aferd (Hoist the Flag), at Franks Farms is second with 13 winners from 21 starters, including two stakes winners, and his offspring have won close to a half-million dollars. Bridlewood Farm's Wild Rush ranks third with seven winners from 17 runners and earnings well over $100,000.

"We expected him, because of his pedigree, to be a late-bloomer," said Bridlewood's Isaacs. "But he's way ahead of schedule, and his book will be full this year."

Turf success bolsters Double Honor

Double Honor, at Farnsworth Farm, heads the third-crop roster. A son of Gone West, he has 100 horses racing, with 76 winners, four stakes winners, and $2.6 million in cumulative earnings. Giving the 9-year-old Double Honor a boost is the sire's recently discovered ability to get competitive grass runners to complement his main-track offspring.

Concerto, by Chief's Crown, is second on the list of third-crop sires with 59 starters, 44 winners, and five stakes winners. Cumulative earnings for Concerto, who stands at Ocala Stud, are more than $2.1 million. Third in this group is Northern Afleet, by Afleet. A bay horse from the family of the successful sire Rizzi, he stands at Double Diamond Farm and has 48 runners, 41 winners, four stakes winners, and earnings of $2 million.

Racing fan for life

Bill Braucher, who died at age 77 this past week, was a longtime booster of Florida's Thoroughbred industry. He covered sports for the Miami Herald in the 1960's and 70's. His principal beat was the Miami Dolphins. Later he moved on to the Broward County edition of the Miami Herald and to writing about colorful racetrack patrons and human interest topics. He retired a dozen years ago and spent much of his leisure time in the Calder Race Course and Gulfstream press boxes.

Brauch, as he was often called, would readily admit to being a horse racing junkie. That included August at Saratoga, where he and his newspaper colleagues would gather on the Saratoga lawn and do their collective handicapping. Among Brauch's many friends in the game were Jack and Katherine Price of Carry Back fame.

* The four days of under-tack shows for the Ocala Breeders' Sales April 2-year-old sale begin Wednesday at 9 a.m. The sales horses in Book 1 work on Wednesday, those in Book 2 on Thursday, Book 3 on Friday, and Book 4 on Saturday.