04/05/2002 12:00AM

Notebook, Montbrook early leaders for 2002

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This year's first-quarter numbers for Florida's Thoroughbred industry indicate that if there was a negative impact from Sept. 11, it was of short duration. The only numbers that remain uncertain are those from the OBS mixed sales of both last October and January. Those two sales, however, were as much impacted by the lack of dispersals, e.g. Mockingbird Farm and Hooper Farm, as anything else.

The three selected 2-year-olds in training sales of February and March were strong. There was less "irrational exuberance" at the top of the market as in past years and the middle held. True, the buy-back rate inched higher in some sales, and dramatically higher in others, but this can not be attributed to anything out of the ordinary.

The Ocala Stud-based stallions Notebook and Montbrook were the state's leading stallions through the first quarter. Notebook owes his narrow lead to the classic hopeful Booklet ($240,000). Montbrook has Giant Gentleman ($140,000) going for him. Within striking distance of the top two is Farnsworth Farms's perennial contender for leading sire honors, Fortunate Prospect. Among his 25 winners, tops in this category, is the three-time stakes winner Bold World, who in being pointed to the Grade 3 Beaumont Stakes at Keeneland later this month.

There are three Florida stallions among the nation's 10 leading second-crop sires. The group is led by Lost Soldier (Franks Farm, South). He has 10 winners this year, including Chit Chatter.

Right behind Lost Soldier in the standings is Halo's Image (Bridlewood Farm) with 11 winners, including stakes-placed Bob's Image.

Suave Prospect (Farnsworth Farms) ranks third with six winners, led by stakes winner Salem Willow.

Closing on the top three is Outflanker (Clover Leaf) with two stakes winners.

Florida's leading third-crop stallions are: Mecke (Ocala Stud), Lite the Fuse (Adena Springs, South), and Dove Hunt (Dunhill Stud). Mecke's top earner is the stakes winner Mountain Rage. Lite the Fuse is the sire of stakes winner Fuse It. Dove Hunt has two stakes winners out this year headed by Paloma Parilla.

Hickey stays home

Noel Hickey of Irish Acres Farm is staying put for the time being.

Ordinarily, each spring he would pack and leave for the track and train the homebreds.

"Smelling the flowers," he said the other morning. "I have a good professional deputy in Sue Conklin. She gets all the credit for preparing our homebred Colorful Tour [Tour d'Or] to win last week's $100,000 Land o' Lincoln Stakes [at Sportsman's Park]."

Irish Acres Farm, pending zoning approval, will become a part of the Wal-Mart distribution system. "Industry is moving this way," said Hickey. "Once upon a time, you might say, the farm was out of town; it's not the case anymore.

"Will I relocate and start again if this goes through? Let's see what happens and when."

* Harold, Elsie, and the multiple generations that make up the Rose family, board all but one broodmare, Mia's Hope, with Farnsworth Farms. Mia's Hope, the dam of Hal's Hope, foaled a three-parts brother to Florida's newest Thoroughbred millionaire at Bridlewood Farm last month. The gray colt is by Halo's Image, by Halo, sire of Jolie's Halo. Jolie's Halo is the sire of Hal's Hope.

* The OBS Spring Sale of 2-year-olds in training begins April 22 and continues through April 25. Horses will appear under tack April 17-20. Starting time for all four under tack sessions is 9 a.m.