06/10/2005 12:00AM

Small-time consignor still looking for the big horse


The Ocala Breeders' June sale of 2-year-olds in training on June 21-22 will have its under-tack shows next weekend. Those cataloged for the first sales session will go under tack on Saturday, and those in the second session will go Sunday. Starting times for both under-tack shows is set for 8 a.m.

The June 21 sales session has 330 2-year-olds in training cataloged. The second session has 304 2-year-olds plus 22 horses of racing age. Starting time for each of the two days of sales is 10:30 a.m.

Among the hundred or so consignors to this sale is Center Stage Farm, the marketing name for the do-it-all-yourself operation of Darcy Scudero. Center Stage has consigned three 2-year-olds to the sale.

Scudero is an ex-jockey who rode with success on the Mid-Atlantic circuit in the 1980's and early 90's. There is a family connection to the Thoroughbred world through her mother, Gail Scudero, whose business involved reconditioning over-the-hill racehorses into hunter-jumpers. Scudero's father is Scooter Scudero, a former halfback for the Washington Redskins.

Darcy Scudero attributes her move from the Northeast to Florida to an impulse. She had never been close to Ocala prior to her making up her mind that she would have "no more frigid winters riding at Charles Town or Philly," she said.

Scudero phoned a former client, Niall Brennan, and asked him for a job working with yearlings. "He said come on down, and I did," she said.

For the better part of a decade Scudero absorbed all she possibly could relative to the Thoroughbred game. She read and observed. She saved a few bucks, bought a 15-acre tract a few miles west of the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company facilities, named it Center Stage Farm, and went into the business of breeding and pin-hooking for the market.

Despite success selling some useful horses, Scudero has not been making waves. "It's really hard getting started with a small operation," she said. "You tend to get overlooked by the big buyers who are looking for glamour horses. My sales horses may not have as much glamour as others, but they make money."

Scudero has a small broodmare band, currently four and usually between three and six. She scrutinizes the stallion situation, and by her own admission is uncertain and anxious when she decides on which stallions to book. "When you are breeding or pin-hooking, you always have the concern that the market will change and you'll be left out," she said. "I look for the best pedigrees that I can afford and then I match my mares according to what I hope will produce balanced racehorses."

Pin-hooking, Scudero will readily tell you, is another anxiety trip. The Center Stage Farm consignment to next week's sale is a testimony to her wide-ranging tastes. Hip No. 33 is a Maryland-bred daughter of the unraced Storm Cat stallion Coastal Rose. Hip No. 500 is New York-bred daughter of City Zip, and her third sales horse, Hip No. 633, is a California-bred gelded son of the Storm Cat stallion Rocket Cat.

"Bought 'em, broke 'em, and am going to sell 'em," she said with assurance.

She has a list of her alumni, both homebreds and pin-hooks, that she gladly shares with those who ask what her sales horses have done and what they've done lately. As for lately, Scudero consults her reference book.

"Sold Heavenly Lilly, a Top Account filly - she's a homebred - for $57,000 last year and the filly is turning out to be a real bargain," she said. "She's won 3 of 7 starts in California."

Then she'll tell you about another breadwinner she named Dannysupermarket, an earner of almost $70,000 who most recently has been running in claiming races at Philadelphia Park.

"No, no big stakes winners yet, but I am getting there," she said. "I am upgrading as I can afford it, and it's only a matter of time until the big ones come in."