12/22/2011 2:54PM

Magali Farms hopes Giacomo as popular with mares as he is with fans

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Barbara D. Livingston
Magali Farms manager Tom Hudson is optimistic Giacomo will be booked to 70 to 80 mares this season.

In recent months, visitors have arrived unannounced at Magali Farms on Casey Avenue in Santa Ynez, Calif., with one objective – a chance to meet 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo.

“It’s amazing the amount of following he has from the general public,” said Magali Farms manager Tom Hudson.

“He’s great with people. We show him in the walking ring and he stands and poses. People get their picture taken with him. Everybody wants to pet a Kentucky Derby winner.”

Having a famous Thoroughbred ambassador is a source of pride for Magali, but it is not the farm’s main objective. Hudson and the rest of the Magali team are hoping that Giacomo is also well-received by California mare owners in the upcoming breeding season.

Giacomo will stand his first season at stud in California in 2012, for a fee of $5,000. He stood at Adena Springs in Kentucky for his first five seasons at stud, and was sent to Magali in the fall. Giacomo, 9, is the only Kentucky Derby winner standing in the state.

California breeders are notorious for arranging matings later in the breeding season than their counterparts in other states, but Hudson says the phones at Magali have been ringing of late.

“We’ve had a lot of calls, which is unusual for this time of year,” he said.

Hudson expects a large group of mares for Giacomo. He said he will be “extremely disappointed” if Giacomo fails to get a book of 70 to 80 mares. Interest in the stallion will be boosted by the familiarity that California owners and breeders have with the horse, who was based in Southern California during his career.

Giacomo won 3 of 16 starts and $2,537,316 in his career. At 2, he was second in the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity. At 4, he won the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar.

In addition, Giacomo’s current crop of 2-year-olds is promising. Disposable Pleasure overcame trouble to win the Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes at Aqueduct in late November to become his first graded stakes winner in the United States.

Hudson hopes Disposable Pleasure can give Giacomo a further boost before breeding season begins in mid-February.

“I figure she’ll run one more time before breeding and we can get lucky,” he said.

From a technical point of view, Hudson said that Giacomo’s bloodlines – Holy Bull out of Set Them Free, by Stop the Music – should appeal to breeders whose mares have Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector pedigrees.

“He’s a total outcross,” Hudson said. “He’s a good grade on the nicking pattern.

“He’s unbelievably put together. Out in the pasture, running around on his own, when he’s trotting, he looks like an upper level dressage horse.”

This year, Giacomo has progeny earnings of $1,429,884, which left him ranked 14th among California stallions through Dec. 17. He has 47 winners and four stakes winners this year.

Those statistics mean more to horse racing insiders than the fans who visit Magali. Some have come from as far away as northern San Diego County, Hudson said.

“There was one group of 30 people,” Hudson said. “We tend to have them almost every day. It’s great to have a horse that people remember.”