03/12/2004 12:00AM

Seven in running for year's top honor

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The Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association will hold its annual awards banquet Monday evening, following the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's festival of racing. The event will be held at Steinbrenner's Ramada Inn convention center, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The association has announced seven of its Thoroughbred award- winners. Chapel Royal was named best 2 year-old male and Chatter Chatter best 2- year-old filly. The 3-year-old winners were Peace Rules as colt, Lady Tak as filly. Puzzlement was recognized as best older horse, Smok'n Frolic was best older filly or mare. Man From Wicklow was honored as best turf horse, and Shake You Down was named best sprinter. One of these will become the Florida-bred of the year, with the announcement made at the banquet.

Mike O'Farrell's Ocala Stud bred two of the champions, Chapel Royal and Shake You Down. Chapel Royal, sold as a 2 year-old in training at the 2003 OBS Calder sale for a then-record $1.2 million to Tabor and Smith, is by Montbrook, who stands at Ocala Stud.

Chapel Royal won two graded stakes and placed in three Grade 1 races. Shake You Down, also a son of Montbrook, won 7 of 13 races and placed four times in a well-traveled 2003 campaign. He won graded stakes in New York and Florida and finished third in the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Santa Anita. The 6-year-old Shake You Down is out of a stakes-placed Rajab mare, Mauvin Gay, who is carrying a three-quarter sibling to Shake You Down by Montbrook's Grade 1-winning son Outofthebox.

The late John Franks bred two of the champions: Chatter Chatter, whom he raced, and Lady Tak, whom he sold as a yearling. Chatter Chatter is by the Franks Farm South stallion Lost Soldier. Lady Tak was covered in Kentucky by the Seeking the Gold stallion Mutakddim.

Peace Rules was bred by Dr. Ron Chak at his Newchance Farm. Chak has been honored in the past for such stalwarts as Mister Frisky and the graded stakes winner Silvered Silk. The recent winner of the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap, Peace Rules by the late stallion Jules, a shuttle sire who died in the off season in Brazil. Jules, a son of Forty Niner stood at Bridlewood Farm. Chak sold Hold to Fashion, the dam of Peace Rules, for $18,000 at the 2001 OBS fall mixed sale, which he called "too soon." But, Chak pointed out, "I still have a half-sister to him."

Puzzlement, bred and raced by Joseph V. Shields, a patron of Lev Miller's T-Square Stud, is one of two from the Danzig line to earn a 2003 championship from the owners and breeders - the other being Chatter Chatter. Puzzlement is from a family that has also produced the Grade 1-winning Wagon Limit. Taine, the dam of Puzzlement, is expecting a foal to the cover of War Chant, thereby continuing the Danzig connection.

Smok'n Frolic was bred by Norman and Carol Thaw, doing business as Cherokee Farms Inc. The gray or roan mare by Smoke Glacken was sold to Dogwood Stable at the 2001 OBS 2 year-old sale at Calder for $85,000. A sound and consistent racemare, Smok'n Frolic won three stakes in 2003, two of them graded, and she placed in four more graded events. She traces to the late Mr. Prospector.

Man From Wicklow, a 7-year-old bay gelding by Turkoman, is owned by trainer Richard A. Violette Jr. He was bred by Jim Cavanaugh, who, with his brother George, was among Ocala's pioneers, having founded Pine Crest Farm nearly a half-century ago. Cavanaugh, who won a past citation from the owners and breeders association for being the leading small-sized breeder of the year, likes to seek out proven stallions who are, in his opinion, out of favor at the time, and then haggle a stud fee.

"I am a poor man," he said with a broad Irish grin, "and I have to watch my shekels." In 1996 he thought the Alydar stallion Turkoman was an out-of-the-limelight stallion and he shipped his mare Star of Wicklow to Kentucky. "You gotta get lucky in this game, once and a while, and I got lucky," says Cavanaugh.