12/21/2001 12:00AM

From shoemaking to horse breeding


Solomon Garazi is celebrating his 30th anniversary as a member of Florida's Thoroughbred community. A former Havana resident, Garazi, together with Fred Berens of Miami, owns SolRed Farm, located north of Ocala in Citrus, Fla. It is a 133-acre nursery with four stallions, and Garazi is the farm's chief boarder with 40 mares and 30 weanlings.

"I have always loved horse racing," said Garazi. "When I was in high school back in Havana, I used to play hooky and go to Oriental Park and bet on the horses. Later I took my own kids there when they were small. My wife and I would put a blanket on the grass apron, and we'd have picnics while the races were going on."

Garazi's family was in the shoe manufacturing business in Cuba, and when the Castro government nationalized the industry, it was time to go. They made it to Miami, where Garazi went into business. He prospered and began again to consider horse racing. "Leo Sierra, one of Cuba's winningest horsemen, arrived in Miami," Garazi said. "He had left Cuba at the same time I did, but he went to Mexico to train."

Garazi wanted to get into the racing business, and Sierra agreed to train for him and Berens. "We bought our first horses at the Florida sales and did very well," Garazi said

One of Garazi and Berens's horses was Clandenita. A graded stakes winner, she ran third to Dessert Vixen in a division of the 1973 Test Stakes at Saratoga.

Garazi said that Berens, a vice president with Prudential Securities in Miami, became his partner in the farm when its original owner, Lee Gale, died.

"It was called High Gale Farm then, and we renamed it SolRed Farm," Garazi said.

SolRed Farm stands four stallions. The graded stakes winner Dawn Quixote is just about the last scion of Grey Dawn II. Forever Whirl is a young graded stakes-winning son of Island Whirl. Hubble is a son of Seattle Slew. And then there's Master Bill.

"Master Bill is my stallion for the future," said Garazi. "He was lightly raced due to an injury but he has the pedigree to be a success."

Master Bill is an 11-year-old by Forty Niner out of Banker's Lady, by Nijinsky II. Banker's Lady is a multiple graded stakes winner, and Master Bill is a full brother to Grade 2 winner Banker's Gold.

"We got him in 1998 late in the breeding season," said Garazi of Master Bill. "He has a small first crop and only a few have started and two have won. He had a full book in '99, and I'm confident he's going to make it."

o The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company is mailing its catalog for the coming winter mixed sale. The consignors' preferred session begins the sale on Jan. 14 with 346 cataloged. The open session follows on Tuesday with 377.