02/17/2011 3:41PM

Haran putting hopes in one Illinois-bred stallion


Shore Breeze is a stallion, not a racer, but his owner, John Haran, is betting big on this horse. Haran is the owner of some 40 2-year-olds of 2011, all of them Illinois-breds and all by Shore Breeze.

“Twenty are breezing right now,” said Haran, who races under the name of his Peotone, Ill., farm, Eagle Valley. “We’re going to know if it’s going to work out this year.”

Haran bought Shore Breeze out of Pennsylvania in 2004. A 13-year-old son of Danzig, he stood the 2005 season in Illinois and went to Kentucky – where Haran owns another farm, in Paris – for two seasons before being returned to Illinois.

“After his first crop, we backed off for a couple years,” said Haran, who did well during the construction boom of the 2000’s and owns some 200 Thoroughbreds. “We wanted to see if he’d get runners or not, so we only bred two or three to his second crop and third crop. When his first crop hit the track, his first three horses were all winners, so then I went and bought better mares, bred him to close to 60 mares that year.”

Somewhat surprisingly, Shore Breeze has come on, getting enough runners to the track with some degree of competence to top the 2010 Illinois sire standings. Shore Breeze had 42 runners and 24 winners, the second-highest total in the state behind deceased Cartwright. Shore Breeze’s progeny earnings of $596,213 were tops in Illinois last year.

Haran also stands Ben Bulben, Ouragan, Dancing Missile, and Crypto Star at Eagle Valley. In a state depleted of stallions by the struggling racing industry, this is far from a dismal roster, but Haran is breeding mostly to his own mares and said he will be doing less of that in 2011.

“People are backing off this year,” said Haran, a native of Ireland. “I don’t know if I’m going to breed much of anything.”

Several factors have taken their toll, including long-term purse declines, repeated failures to pass state legislation to allow ontrack slot machines, and millions of dollars in casino impact-fee legislation tied up indefinitely in the courts. That’s the prevailing trend in the state right now.