09/22/2003 11:00PM

Say Florida Sandy retired to stud

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Say Florida Sandy, one of the greatest New York-breds of all time, has been retired and will enter stud in 2004.

On Tuesday, John Rotella, Say Florida Sandy's owner, said he is near completing a deal to sell Say Florida Sandy to a New York farm.

Say Florida Sandy, a 9-year-old son of Personal Flag out of the Sweet Candy mare Lolli Lucka Lolli, retires with earnings of $2,085,403, which places him second on the list of New York-breds in money won. Say Florida Sandy led the list for 20 months until he was surpassed by Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide, who vaulted to the top by finishing third in the Haskell on Aug. 3.

Sanford Bacon, Say Florida Sandy's breeder, initially raced the sprinter until he lost him in a claiming race for $70,000 as a 3-year-old.

During his career, Say Florida Sandy had several trainers, including Juan Serey, who had him for the longest.

Say Florida Sandy won 17 stakes during his 98-race career, including the Grade 2 True North at Belmont Park, the Grade 3 Gravesend at Aqueduct in 1998 and 2000, and the Grade 3 Philadelphia Breeders' Cup Handicap. He won several New York-bred championships, including horse of the year in 2002. He retires with a record of 33-17-12.

In his final start, Say Florida Sandy finished last in an allowance race at Saratoga on Aug. 17 for trainer Scott Lake. About a week later, Rotella sent Say Florida Sandy to Hunters Run farm in New Jersey, where he is currently turned out in a paddock.

Rotella, who claimed Say Florida Sandy for $60,000 from trainer Gasper Moschera and owner Jane Marinos in February 1998 at Aqueduct, said the time had come for the horse to be retired.

"He's ready," Rotella said. "Whenever we sent him to the farm before, he was ready to come back to the track right away. Now, he is happy standing there by himself in the paddock.

"In his race at Delaware this summer, it looked like he would win by five lengths, and then he didn't. [Jockey] Tony Black told me, 'He didn't feel like doing it today.' Sandy had never been like that. He's been so good to me; I wanted to retire him 100 percent sound, and he is."