09/16/2005 12:00AM

Scramble on to fill vacated top spot

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With Songandaprayer having migrated to Kentucky, where he will stand the 2006 breeding season, there is no shortage of competitors in the quest to take his place as the leading Florida first-year sire. Padua Stables' Exchange Rate ($7,500 fee) is the current leader in the category with 9 winners from 19 starters, and one stakes-placed runner, from a crop of 39. Trippi ($7,500), standing at Ocala Stud, has a crop of 45, of which 19 have started and 8 have won, including three black-type earners. CloverLeaf II's Snuck In ($3,500) has the biggest crop, numbering 47. Snuck In has had 21 runners and 6 winners.

Bridlewood Farm's Put It Back is another in the freshman sire mix, as he is the sire of In Summation, 1 of the 3 winners from 9 starters by Put It Back. An unbeaten colt, In Summation has already won the first two legs of the Florida Stallion Stakes and bids to become trainer Frank Gomez's third horse to sweep the series when the In Reality Stakes is run on Oct. 15. Gomez swept the series with Smile in 1984 and Naked Greed in 1991, and altogether has won 14 of these races over the decades.

Put It Back is from the In Reality line, and Smile was by In Reality. In Summation is the seventh Art Appleton-Bridlewood Farm homebred to win a division of the Florida Stallion Stakes.

Art Appleton is 80 years-plus and, like many seniors, he has his good days and not-so-good days. When asked about his current health, a Bridlewood Farm spokesperson said that he is doing "quite well lately," and added that he is "up and about, enjoying his grandchildren."

Farnsworth's 13th Stallion winner

Mike Sherman of Farnsworth Farms is also on a roll. He, too, has a keen interest in the final leg of the filly division of the Florida Stallion Stakes. Sherman is co-owner, with Bill Condren, of Running Lass. Running Lass, a daughter of the Adena Springs South resident Running Stag and the Farnsworth Farms mare Shannon's Storm, won the Susan's Girl division of the Florida Stallion Stakes series on Sept. 3. She became the 13th winner of a race in this series bred by Farnsworth Farms. Running Lass and In Summation have a common relative in the deceased Florida sire Exuberant. The dam of Put It On is by that sire, and Shannon's Storm, the dam of Running Lass, is a granddaughter of that sire.

Shannon's Storm is among the 167 mares being dispersed by Farnsworth Farms at the Ocala Breeders' Sales fall mixed sale, which begins on Oct. 10. The mare is cataloged as believed to be in foal to Double Honor.

Southern Cal out with injury

The prognosis is uncertain for David S. Romanik's homebred gelding Southern Cal. A multiple stakes winner, he appeared on his way to his fourth straight victory Sept. 5 in the Grade 3 Miami Mile Breeders' Cup Handicap when he abruptly shortened stride yards from the wire to finish third. It turned out he had aggravated a tendon injury.

"He's always had a problem with a tendon," said Romanik. "It's going to take time to get him back. This is not the first time he had to take time off from a tendon problem.

Southern Cal is a 4-year-old son of the Bridlewood Farm stallion Halo's Image and is his sire's leading money-earner in '05.

Wrigley a new farm owner

William Wrigley, chief executive officer of Wrigley Co., the Chicago-based chewing gum company, is among the newest members of Florida's Thoroughbred industry. Wrigley has purchased the 1,000-acre Centurion Farm in Reddick and has renamed it Winter Haven Farm. Centurion Farm was purchased in 1998 by foreign investors for the purpose of raising Andalusian horses.

Another farm reportedly about to change hands is Lambholm South. The 420-acre breeding and training facility has had a number of owners and names through the years, starting with Murty Brothers, then Wooden Horse Stud, Brookside South, and currently Lambholm South. The prospective buyer is trucking magnate Larry Roberts, a name in the Quarter Horse industry who is making the transition to Thoroughbreds. Roy Lerman, owner of Lambholm South, also owns the former Hobeau Farm and is expected to transfer his horses to that facility when the sale is final.