05/19/2005 11:00PM

Schwietert's key: Finding a good match

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Jeff Schwietert is a pedigree connoisseur who follows his own counsel. The manager and part owner of the 170-acre Four Horsemen's Ranch in Anthony, Fla., Schwietert has developed a breeding program he calls "the total package" concept. He has to appreciate a stallion's racing record and pedigree, but also factors how a particular stallion fits with the mare he is considering.

"I really don't go for nicks or dosage," he says. "A mating has to make sense to me. I have the mare, so it makes sense to me to find the stallion that suits her, rather than just look at a pedigree page and make a phone call."

Two of the better known stakes winners who were bred by Four Horsemen's Ranch were Val's Prince, a distance-loving turf horse who was a multi-millionaire, and Thunderello, the 2002 Breeders' Cup Sprint runner-up. Schwietert has also bred stakes winners by Lord Avie and Saint Ballado.

Another well known horse bred by Four Horsemen's Ranch was Star Over the Bay, by Cozzene, a Grade 1 winner of 10 of 43 starts and $917,353. This past Sunday, Star Over the Bay suffered an injury in the $1.8 million Singapore Airlines International Cup while competing at the Kranji Racecourse. His injury proved fatal, and he had to be euthanized.

"You know, they ran the Jim Murray Memorial at Hollywood Park last weekend," said Schwietert. "The 'Star' really liked the firm Hollywood turf course, and there was no speed in the race. He'd have been tough to catch in that race."

Four Horsemen's Ranch has 25 mares, and 15 of them are or will be covered by Kentucky stallions this year. The remaining mares will go to Ocala stallions.

Schwietert has two half-sisters to Star of the Bay: Rabba Dabba Doo, by Rajab, is in foal to the Overbrook Farm stallion Jump Seat and will be bred back to him; and Enduring Legacy, by Saint Ballado, is booked to the 2004 Eclipse champion sprinter Speightstown. Florida stallions that Schwietert has booked mares to in 2005 include Sweetsouthernsaint, Roar of the Tiger, Trippi, and Dance Master.

CloverLeaf stallions have full books

Brent Fernung, the general manager of Cloverleaf Farm II, is more than pleased with the response of local breeders to the farm's 10 stallions. Topping the CloverLeaf list of full books is the millionaire racehorse Repent, a son of Preakness winner Louis Quatorze. Repent was bred to 125 mares last year, his first season at stud, and he will be bred to almost as many mares this year.

"A lot of late-season action on him," said Fernung. "People like what they see in his first crop, and they want more."

Favorite Trick, the 1997 Eclipse winner for champion 2-year-old and Horse of the Year, moved to CloverLeaf following five seasons in Kentucky. "Kentucky breeders don't seem to have the patience Florida breeders seem to have," said Fernung. "There's such an influx of new stallions every year up there that a stud who has a respectable record can lose his cachet."

Favorite Trick will have a book of about 60 in 2005.

Nine of the 10 stallions at CloverLeaf will be getting a full book of 40 or more. The only stallion to fall below that plateau is the millionaire Brazilian-bred Hard Buck. "He's a grand-looking horse who retired absolutely sound after four years of racing," said Fernung, adding that Hard Buck was a Grade 1 winner in Brazil from a mile to 1 1/4 miles. Hard Buck won the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap in the United States and finished second in the prestigious King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

"Right now, Hard Buck looks like he will be bred to 25 mares," said Fernung, "and he is super fertile."

Hard Buck is by Kentucky Derby winner Spend a Buck out of Social Secret, a Secreto mare. "For a $2,500 fee, look at all you've got going for you," he said.

Double Honor attracting much attention

Since Mike Sherman announced the closing of Farnsworth Farms and the dispersal of all its Thoroughbred stock, several calls have been made to the farm, according to farm manager Bill Allen. "Most of the phone calls have to do with the stallion Double Honor," said Allen. "People want to know if any plans have been made when it comes to selling or standing him."

By Gone West out of Holiday Snow, Double Honor is closing in on Concerto in the race for Florida's leading sire. "If the owners of Double Honor 2-year-olds would be patient with them - let them mature and then put them on the grass - they'd find out he's a really good turf sire," said Allen.

Allen said that the inquiries for Double Honor were coming from all over the country, including Kentucky and New York, and added that Double Honor will cover about 120 mares this year.