11/23/2001 1:00AM

Old college roommates at it again with White Ibis


Several years ago, William Garbarini and Michael T. Martin campaigned Rush Chairman Bill, who was named the champion 2-year-old male among New York-breds in 1992.

It looks like history will repeat itself for Garbarini and Martin, who became buddies more than 40 years ago as college roommates at Rutgers University in New Jersey. The partners have another potential New York-bred champion on their hands in White Ibis, a 2-year-old gelded son of Distinctive Pro.

Garbarini and Martin bred White Ibis, who reeled off consecutive stakes wins this fall at Belmont Park and Aqueduct in the restricted Bertram F. Bongard, Sleepy Hollow, and Great White Way.

White Ibis is owned solely by Garbarini and runs in the name of Quarter Keg Stable.

Luck was on Garbarini's side when he told Martin he had first pick between the first two foals out of Wild Wings, the dam of White Ibis. Wild Wings, an open stakes winner of $216,638, was bred and co-owned by Garbarini and Martin.

Martin, who followed his father, the late Townsend Martin, into the business as an owner and breeder, chose Wild Wings's first foal, a colt by Deposit Ticket. Her second foal, White Ibis, went to Garbarini.

"Unfortunately, the Deposit Ticket colt had a paddock accident and had to be put down," Garbarini said. "It was a shame, because he looked like a nice horse."

Garbarini said he gets some good-natured ribbing from Martin over the way things turned out, but that Martin would be "right up there on the dais with me" if White Ibis earns a New York-bred divisional championship.

Wild Wings, who is by Martin's New York sire Scarlet Ibis, was later sold by Garbarini and Martin while in foal to Clever Trick at Keeneland in 1999 for $75,000.

Garbarini, 60, has a small stable of runners with Richard DeStasio at Belmont and with Bob Ringhoff at Finger Lakes. He keeps a handful of broodmares at Highcliff Farm in Delanson, N.Y.

Garbarini, who owns a executive recruiting firm in New Jersey, built and owned Highcliff Farm, a full-service breeding farm, in partnership from 1980 to 1989 before selling it to the current owners, Carl Lizza and Joe Bartone.

One of Garbarini's crowning achievements as a breeder came in 2000 when a New York-bred yearling filly he co-bred sold for $1.25 million at auction in Saratoga. The price for that Silver Deputy filly is a record for a New York-bred yearling sold at auction.

As an owner, Garbarini should be recognized for fashioning a racing schedule for White Ibis before the gelding reached the races that not only remained intact, but also yielded results beyond Garbarini's wildest expectations.

Garbarini wanted White Ibis to race a couple of times in Fingers Lakes to gain experience before heading to DeStasio's barn at Belmont, where the owner had an eye on the Bertram F. Bongard in late September and then the Sleepy Hollow and the Great White Way.

White Ibis was third in two Finger Lakes starts, which came in restricted stakes, including the New York Breeders Futurity, where he finished behind this year's top two statebred juvenile fillies, Shesastonecoldfox and Princess Dixie.

In the Bertram F. Bongard, White Ibis notched the first win of his career with a 1 1/4-length margin of victory. From there, the gelding captured the Sleepy Hollow by more than two lengths and then won the Great White Way by a half-length two weeks ago at Aqueduct.

"Here's a guy that stuck to a plan and it worked," Garbarini said laughing. "In this business, you can never plan ahead because horses usually get hurt or get sick."

Future engagements call for White Ibis to run back in the $75,000-added Damon Runyon, a restricted stakes at Aqueduct on Dec. 16. The 1 1/16-mile Damon Runyon will be the gelding's first journey around two turns.

"I'm perplexed as to what he is, but I don't think he's a sprinter," said Garbarini, adding that White Ibis won the six-furlong Great White Way "on class."

Garbarini noted that the gelding "has a very long, fluid stride and glides along. He's got some talent, but he's like a sophomore in high school - tall and lanky and hasn't filled out into his frame."

Can Garbarini be as lucky when it comes to designing a 2002 campaign for White Ibis? That remains to be seen, but the owner isn't short on ideas.

"My son just e-mailed about races that would fit, like the Count Fleet, Whirlaway, Gotham, Withers, and Riva Ridge," Garbarini said. "White lbis will be bigger and stronger at 3, and I think he can compete with open company."

* Radio Star, a half-brother to leading sire Dynaformer, will enter stud in 2002 at McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Four-year-old Radio Star, a lightly raced son of Storm Cat, will be syndicated for $15,000 a share and will stand for $5,000 live foal.

* Senor Speedy, who is owned by Robert Perez, has been moved from Kentucky to stand the 2002 season at Perez's Haras Lucy Grace in Middletown, N.Y. No fee has been set for Senor Speedy, a stakes winner and a stakes sire.