07/08/2004 11:00PM

Joey Franco retired

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Joey Franco, the 2003 California-bred horse of the year, has been retired and will be sent to stud for the 2005 breeding season.

Unraced this year, Joey Franco was unable to return from an injury that curtailed his 2003 season, owner-breeder Jerry Frankel said.

No stud plans have been announced, though negotiations continue.

"We were very close," said trainer Darrell Vienna of getting Joey Franco to return to the races. "The decision was made not to take a chance."

By Avenue of Flags, Joey Franco won 8 of 17 starts and $635,091 in a two-year career.

Joey Franco was at his best in the spring and summer of 2003, winning four stakes. At Hollywood Park, he won the Tiznow Stakes for statebreds, the Ack Ack Handicap, and the Grade 1 Triple Bend Breeders' Cup Handicap over seven furlongs.

After finishing eighth in the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar, Joey Franco rebounded with a two-length win in the Grade 2 Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap over a mile. In his final start, Joey Franco finished fourth in the Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap at Oak Tree in October.

Joey Franco emerged from that race with an injury. He was given a lengthy rest, but failed to return to racing. Aside from his horse of the year title, Joey Franco earned two other statebred championships in 2003, for older horse and sprinter.

Frankel said he has entertained offers from a Kentucky stallion farm and had interest from Korea and Japan, but would like to stand Joey Franco in California.

"I think it would be too tough in Kentucky," he said. "That's the one thing I haven't done in my racing life is have a stallion and run the babies."

Vessels adds Momentum

Momentum, a stakes winner and top handicap horse in California in 2002, will go to stud at Vessels Stallion Farm in Bonsall, Calif., next year.

The retirement of Momentum was announced last month, shortly after he finished last of eight in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile on May 31.

The Shoemaker was Momentum's only start of the year and first race since the fall of 2002. Momentum was plagued by tendon injuries at the end of his career.

Momentum won 4 of 17 starts and $664,817. A stakes winner in England over 1 1/8 miles on turf in 2001, Momentum won the Grade 3 Native Diver Handicap in his dirt debut December 2001 at Hollywood Park.

Racing strictly on dirt in 2002, Momentum was winless in seven starts, but was second in three major stakes - the Hollywood Gold Cup, the Pacific Classic, and the Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap.

While training for a start in the Breeders' Cup Classic in October 2002, Momentum was taken out of training with a tendon injury. During his American campaign, Momentum was owned by Paul Reddam and trained by Craig Dollase.

A Kentucky-bred by Nureyev, Momentum is out of Imprudent Love, by Foolish Pleasure.

Reddam and Vessels Stallion Farm will share ownership of Momentum, according to Vessels farm manager Rich Decker.

"He will support him with mares, and obviously we will support him," Decker said. "I would love to breed some mares that would wind up with yearlings that could go to Saratoga or Fasig-Tipton July."

Decker said no stud fee has been set.

Momentum is the second addition to the Vessels 2005 roster in recent weeks. Last week, Vessels announced that Jackpot, the winner of the Gulfstream Park Handicap in April, will enter stud next year.