07/19/2007 11:00PM

At Seven Gables, name of the game is breed to race


There are more than 350 Thoroughbred farms in the Ocala, Fla., area and they range from a couple of acres to several thousand acres. Most of the small farms are family operations where the ownership of the horses and the work done is family business.

Cathy Rountree is such an owner. She owns the 20-acre Seven Gables Farm. She is a licensed trainer and her homebreds are not bred to sell in the commercial market; they are bred to supply horsepower for her public stable.

"I am temporarily on the low side these days when it comes to broodmares," she said. "I'm down to three mares - a mother and daughter which I own, and a boarder."

Her two mares are Shingalana, by Jolie's Halo, foaled in 1996 and Shingalana's dam, Davcat, by Slewpy, foaled in '90.

Shingalana added luster to the family last month when one of her two foals of racing age, Royal Regan, won the $60,000 Buckland Stakes at Colonial Downs and boosted her earnings to well beyond the $100,000 mark. Shingalana foaled a colt by Eltish this past spring and has a yearling filly by the Bridlewood Farm stallion Put It Back. She was bred this year to the Adena Springs Farm South stallion Sligo Bay, but did not catch. To add to the year's woes, Davcat lost a Powerscourt suckling and is barren to Concerto.

"This is not an easy game," said Rountree with a hint of melancholy.

Rountree's father was a career Navy man, and when he retired he established the family residence in Falls Church, Va., and taught high school math. Her mother was a housewife.

"I was in horse country, and I loved working with the horses," said Rountree. "I did all the jobs from groom to exercise girl."

Through the years she added to her professional curriculum working and learning from such well-known horsemen as Calder's Larry Geiger. She recalls galloping the stakes winner Thirty Zip, the granddam of City Zip and Eclipse champion Ghostzapper, for him. She spent time at the New England tracks working the shed row for such prominent trainers as Junie Bresnahan Jr.

Speed is usually the name of the game for Florida breeders and it's unusual to find a Florida breeder who ships to Kentucky to breed to a turf sire. But it's not unusual for Rountree to seek out such stallions. She booked Shingalana to Royal Academy for just such a reason, and she booked to Arlington Million winner Powerscourt for the same reason.

"It's a way to get first-rate bloodlines at reasonable fees," she said. "I am breeding to race and there are increasing opportunities to race horses with turf pedigrees. And, who knows what pedigrees are going to benefit from synthetic racing surfaces and how the Polytracks are going to impact the breeding industry?"

Florida pinhookers hit sale hard

The Fasig-Tipton Kentucky sale of yearlings, which concluded this past Tuesday, derived considerable business from Ocala pinhookers. Mike and Britt Mulligan, who do business as Leprechaun Racing, bought 14 yearlings for an average of just below $90,000. Murray Smith, who buys under the banner of M.S.T.S., bought the sale's second-highest-priced yearling, bidding $385,000 for a daughter of Pulpit. Nick de Meric spent just over a million for eight yearlings.

Barry Berkelhammer, agent, bought nine yearlings for his clients at an average of $132,777. Tod Quast, the farm manager of GoldMark, bought five for $720,000.

The Vinery's Peace Rules was well received. The first crop stallion, by Jules, had nine sell for an average of $78,888. He stands for $15,000.