04/07/2005 11:00PM

High Fly's exploits provide big boost to stallion Atticus


ARCADIA, Calif. - Even in his wildest expectations, Pablo Suarez could not have envisioned the way Atticus has been received in his debut at stud in California this year.

Because of the success of his son High Fly, a Kentucky Derby hopeful who won the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on April 2, Atticus has been booked to 85 mares at Magali Farms in Santa Ynez, Calif. The book size is likely to increase to 100 before the breeding season ends.

For Suarez, who purchased Atticus from Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky last October, the interest has been a shock. He would have settled for a considerably smaller book.

"For a first-year stallion to be doing this, this is great," Suarez said. "We have been very blessed."

Atticus was essentially overmatched as a Kentucky stallion. After entering stud in 1998, Atticus sired a few stakes winners and had more than $3 million in progeny earnings. It was not enough to draw attention in the competitive Kentucky market.

Resuming the 13-year-old Atticus's career in a regional market such as California seemed like a more sensible approach.

With the success of High Fly, who won the Aventura Stakes in January and the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes on March 5, the calls have been pouring into Magali Farms.

After recently talking with Tom Hudson, the manager of Magali Farms, Suarez said the book is likely to be capped at 100 mares.

"Tom said, 'We need to slow down now,' " Suarez said.

Suarez, 36, the owner of a pharmaceutical wholesale business, co-owns such stakes winners as Sharp Lisa (Las Virgenes Stakes) and Thor's Echo (WinStar Derby) and was looking to extend his involvement in racing through breeding.

Atticus was one of several stallions that Suarez and Hudson considered buying last fall.

Atticus won 7 of 18 starts, four stakes, and $1,205,933, racing in Europe and the United States. By Nureyev, Atticus was a Group 3 stakes winner over a mile on turf at Longchamp in France and was second in the French 2000 Guineas in 1995.

In the U.S., his career took off. He won the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Classic in 1996 and two major stakes in 1997 - the Grade 1 Oaklawn Handicap and the Grade 2 Arcadia Handicap. In the Arcadia at Santa Anita, he finished a mile on turf in 1:31.89. It remains the course record.

At stud, Atticus sired stakes winners in France and the U.S. in his first few crops, but had no standout runners. Still, Suarez felt like he had found the prospect he wanted.

"I didn't know much about Atticus," Suarez said. "I started really getting intrigued. I thought it was a perfect opportunity."

The deal with Three Chimneys was finalized last October for an undisclosed sum.

"I don't think I'm allowed to talk about that," Suarez said of the price.

When he arrived in California, Atticus's stud fee was lowered from $5,000 to $4,000. Suarez has sent eight mares to Atticus, including the stakes-placed runners Brocky's Dream and Lady General.

The 2005 book has only gotten stronger thanks to the success of High Fly, who has won 5 of 6 starts and $897,300 for owner-breeder Live Oak Plantation.

"I feel like he's my horse, too," Suarez said.

Barretts May catalog available

The Barretts May sale of 2-year-olds in training comprises 356 head on May 17. The catalog is currently available on the Internet.

Training previews will be held on May 13-14 at Fairplex Park. The first 178 hips in the catalog will be on the track on the 13th, with the remainder on the 14th.