03/07/2014 12:56PM

Inaugural Pleasant Acres roster packs star power

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Barbara D. Livingston
Irish Derby winner Treasure Beach, a son of international powerhouse Galileo, leads the inaugural stallion roster at Pleasant Acres.

The new Pleasant Acres Stallions facility in Morriston, Fla., advertises that its aim is “bringing the hottest sire lines on the planet to Florida.” Judging by its inaugural roster for the 2014 breeding season, Joe and Helen Barbazon’s operation is off to a flying start.

In addition to Pollard’s Vision, already the sire of a popular champion, the roster boasts young Grade/Group 1-winning sons of international titan Galileo and leading North American sire Speightstown, plus a half-brother to a Horse of the Year, among several new stallions at a time when the commercial market nationwide is resurgent.

The stallion center is located near the Barbazons’ existing Pleasant Acres Farm operation, which they have owned and run since 1983. The Barbazons, who have previously focused on mares and foals, are best known for breeding Presious Passion, a multiple Grade 1 winner. The popular, front-running Royal Anthem gelding won nine graded stakes, including two editions of the Grade 1 United Nations, and finished a gallant second in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Turf.

Presious Passion’s 2009 campaign earned him Florida Horse of the Year honors from the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association, and the Barbazons were voted the top breeders of the year. Presious Passion’s dam, Princesa’s Passion, by Marquetry, was Florida’s broodmare of the year.

Now, the Barbazons are expanding their business into the stallion market.

“Now is a great time because the market is coming back up,” Helen Barbazon said. “Sale after sale, some of the pedigrees we have [represented on the stallion roster] are very strong. For these pedigrees to be in Florida, it’s a great opportunity for breeders and a great opportunity for Florida to produce some really fine racehorses.”

Grade 2 winner Pollard’s Vision, the sire of champion Blind Luck, is the lone stallion on the Pleasant Acres roster with a North American stud record. Passion for Gold entered stud in 2013 at Haras Puerta de Hierro in Chile. The Medaglia d’Oro horse was a Group 1 winner in France, a listed stakes winner in England, and Group 2-placed in Ireland.

The other five stallions – Grade/Group 1 winners Treasure Beach and Poseidon’s Warrior, graded stakes winners Anthony’s Cross and City Wolf, and multiple stakes winner Beau Choix – all are standing their first season in 2014. This focus on young stallions is partially by design.

“We were pretty picky about the stallions we bought,” Helen Barbazon said. “They had to have the bottom side – a good pedigree. They had to have good conformation, and they had to be racehorses. We turned a lot of horses away because they were crooked or because they didn’t meet all three criteria.

“We’re really trying to bring some of the best to Florida. We want to start with the young ones because it takes a while to make a stallion. We wanted to have the opportunity to go long term with these horses.”

The Barbazons a very high on Treasure Beach, a 6-year-old son of powerhouse Galileo. By Sadler’s Wells, Galileo is the sire of nine champions in several countries, most famously unbeaten European Horse of the Year Frankel, a first-year stallion in 2014. Treasure Beach was himself a classic performer as a 3-year-old in Europe, winning the Irish Derby and finishing second in the Epsom Derby.

He continued to perform well against Grade 1 competition when sent to North America later that year, winning the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park and finishing third in the Canadian International at Woodbine. He retired with earnings of $2,435,343. The first-year stallion leads the Pleasant Acres roster with an advertised fee of $10,000.

“He’s our big boy,” Helen Barbazon said. “He’s by the best sire in the world, and he’s the fifth-leading money winner for that sire. He’s correct. He was a highweight in Ireland. He’d been on several continents racing and winning – he was just an awesome racehorse. We think we have something really special in Treasure Beach.... [Being a classics horse], you think he’d be long and lanky, but he’s really not – he looks like he could throw some speed.”

The other young Grade 1 winner on the roster is Poseidon’s Warrior, a 6-year-old son of champion sprinter Speightstown. A five-time stakes winner, Maryland-bred Poseidon’s Warrior came into his own on the New York circuit in 2012, winning the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt at Saratoga and finishing third in the Grade 1 Vosburgh Stakes at Belmont.

Millionaire Pollard’s Vision won four graded stakes, including the Grade 2 Illinois Derby. The 13-year-old Carson City horse got off to a solid start at stud, siring 2010 Eclipse Award champion 3-year-old filly Blind Luck in his first crop. The filly earned more than $3.2 million while winning six Grade 1 events, at least one in each season she raced. Her victories included the Kentucky Oaks and Alabama Stakes. Pollard’s Vision is the sire of 14 other stakes winners from his first five crops for total earnings of $11,251,120 through Monday.

Pollard’s Vision stood the 2013 season at Waldorf Farm in North Chatham, N.Y., after spending his early stud career at Wintergreen Farm in Midway, Ky. Helen Barbazon believes he has now landed in a market in which he can thrive in the long term.

“He fits [Florida] perfectly,” she said. “He throws some nice horses – he’s very useful. I think he belongs here.”

The other first-year stallions at Pleasant Acres all sport solid pedigrees and race records. Anthony’s Cross, by Indian Charlie, won the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes and twice placed in Grade 3 stakes. The half-brother to Grade 3 winner Fugitive Angel is from the family of multiple graded stakes winner Smart Bid and stakes winner Deal Making.

Grade 3 winner City Wolf, by perennial leading sire Giant’s Causeway, is a half-brother to Horse of the Year Ghostzapper and Grade 1 winner City Zip, both successful sires in Kentucky. The hard-knocking Beau Choix won four stakes and placed in seven others; the Elusive Quality horse is out of Grade 2 winner and multiple stakes producer Belle Cherie, a half-sister to multiple Grade 1 winner and millionaire Octave.