11/23/2001 12:00AM

Kelly tailors his stallions

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Sean Kelly, the relatively new owner of Wycombe House Stud, has had a year or so to establish himself and his stallion station. Wycombe House Stud was founded by the late Phil Hofmann and taken over by his widow Georgianna Hofmann until her death two years ago. Kelly purchased the 220-acre farm from her estate.

Kelly is a grandson of horseman Joseph MacGrath, who started the Irish Hospital Sweepstakes. The purchase of Wycombe House Stud, and stocking it with half a dozen stallions, was Sean Kelly's first venture into the American market.

Kelly said he brought in stallions who would sire the precocious and speedy foals preferred in Florida. Among them are Golden Gear (by Gulch) and Intidab (Phone Trick), who were relocated from Kentucky, and Cloud Hopping (Mr. Prospector), an English import. Wycombe House also stands Worldly Manner (Riverman) and Commitisize (Explodent).

"One of the first things I learned about doing business here in the States is the difference in market preferences between those who do business in Kentucky and those here in Florida," Kelly said. "Here, with so much focus on the 2-year-old sales, the breeders want sires who, hopefully, can sire the speedy sorts who go on. So, it was necessary to make changes to our original program."

Kelly said that the incidence of mare reproductive loss syndrome in Kentucky last spring resulted in many broodmares being relocated to Florida.

"These are owned by breeders who sell into the selected yearling market or race themselves," he said. "So, for example, a son of Sadler's Wells could be very attractive to them."

Kelly hopes Worldly Manner will be attractive to these breeders. Worldly Manner stood at Wycombe House for $7,500 last year, Kelly said, and he was bred to more than 75 mares.

"You know breeding has become so international that you can mix so-called classic turf pedigrees with dirt pedigrees and not concern yourself that you will get a horse who can do neither," he said. "Worldly Manner is such a horse. He is by Riverman, and one usually associates Riverman with turf. But, here you had a horse in Worldly Manner who made his reputation as a crack 2-year-old on the dirt."

For this year's breeding season, Worldly Manner will again stand for $7,500, Golden Gear for $6,000, Intidab for $6,000, Cloud Hopper for $3,500, and Commitisize for $3,000.

"I am upbeat about the business," Kelly said. "I know the Sept. 11th tragedy impacted us all. But, everything has to go on. We bought six mares at the Ocala October mixed sale and went mad, I think, in Kentucky and bought 24 more - all for our own account. This should tell you that I have confidence the horse business is a good business to be in."