03/07/2015 4:56PM

Leading Florida sires: Kantharos

Barbara D. Livingston
Kantharos is among the young stallions who have emerged in Florida.

Leading freshman sire, leading juvenile sire

Change is in the air in the Florida market, and Kantharos could be among the young stallions poised to benefit.

The unbeaten Kantharos, who is currently based at Ocala Stud, finished 2014 as Florida’s leading freshman sire, with 18 winners from 31 starters for total progeny earnings of $868,968. That bankroll far outpaced Journeyman Stud-based freshman sire Cool Coal Man, whose nine winners from 30 starters earned $317,639. No other Florida first-year stallion had more than four starters.

With a changing of the guard looming in Florida following the death of state stalwart Wildcat Heir in January, Kantharos, a 7-year-old son of Lion Heart, also will be the leading returning juvenile sire in the state. Wildcat Heir – first or second in Florida’s general sire standings every year since 2010 – finished atop the juvenile list by earnings in 2014, with his progeny banking $897,331 to edge Kantharos.

Kantharos’s top runner in 2014 was Mr. Jordan, who, in the style of his sire, won all three of his starts by open lengths. That included a pair of stakes at Gulfstream Park West, where he won the Juvenile Sprint Stakes by three lengths before taking the Smooth Air Stakes by 4 1/2 lengths.

Mr. Jordan was knocked off the classics trail when he sustained a check ligament injury in a workout in December. He underwent surgery and rejoined trainer Eddie Plesa’s string in February.

Kantharos also is represented by the consistent X Y Jet, who has been on the board in 7 of 8 career starts. The colt concluded his juvenile campaign by finishing second in the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, then stepped up to graded stakes company to finish second in the Grade 3 Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream Park in his first outing of 2015.

Kantharos is also the sire of the stakes-placed winners Savingtime, Katie’s Kiss, Bucchero, Brother Bobo, Duke of Luke, and Big Yum.

Kantharos, trained by Steve Asmussen, won his three starts as a juvenile by a combined 28 1/2 lengths in 2010. He won his debut by 11 3/4 lengths, the Grade 3 Bashford Manor Stakes by 9 1/2 lengths, and the Grade 2 Saratoga Special Stakes by 7 1/4 lengths. However, while training for the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes, he fractured sesamoids in his left foreleg while galloping out after a workout and was forced into retirement.

Kantharos initially stood at Vinery in Summerfield, Fla., for the 2011 season. However, with Vinery owner Tom Simon selling his U.S. operations, the young stallion relocated to Ocala Stud for 2013. The Vinery Florida property was eventually purchased by Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Farm, which campaigned Kantharos; Stonestreet now uses the facility as a rehabilitation and training center.

Changes continue in the Florida landscape as Kantharos establishes himself as a state standout. In mid-February, the Ocala City Council approved a plan to develop Ocala Stud and neighboring Red Oak Farm into a roughly 400-acre residential and commercial area called Trinity Lane. Developer John Brunetti, owner of Hialeah Park, owns both properties. No plans have been announced for the Ocala Stud operation. The farm currently stands eight stallions and has not throttled back, adding Canadian champion and classic winner Uncaptured, another son of Lion Heart, for 2015.

Brunetti told local media in February that construction at Ocala Stud is far down the road, with the Trinity Lane project expected to be complete in no fewer than 20 years. Indeed, the project got a roadblock Feb. 26, when Ocala mayor Kent Guinn vetoed the zoning ordinances that paved the way for the development – the second time the mayor has used his veto power to stop the project.