11/14/2008 12:00AM

Smaller state foal crop seen for 2009

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Recession-driven market forces, clearly in evidence at the 2008 Keeneland mixed sale this month, have impacted Florida’s Thoroughbred industry, creating a bearish, tight-money modus operandi. Richard Hancock, executive vice president of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association, said recently: “The FTBOA is preparing for a 10- to 15-percent drop in the annual foal crop for 2009.”

The Jockey Club reports that 202 Florida stallions covered 5,316 mares in 2008. Assuming that 60 percent of the mares get pregnant and carry to term, the ’08 breeding season should produce approximately 3,200 foals in 2009. The 2008 Florida foal crop, which represents the produce of 7,141 mares covered in ’07, came in at 4,003.

In 2007, there were 15 stallions standing in Florida that covered 100 mares or more. The leader in this category with 173 mares was Wildcat Heir, who stood at Journeyman Stud for a fee of $8,000. This year there were 11 stallions who covered 100 mares or more and the leader was With Distinction, who stands at Hartley DeRenzo Thoroughbreds for a $7,500 fee. The graded-stakes-winning son of Storm Cat covered 160 mares this past season.

Unlike in Kentucky, where the stallions range in fees from free to hundreds of thousands of dollars, Florida’s roster of stallions begins at the free level and ends at $12,500 – the published fees for the Vinery’s Peace Rules, who covered 57 mares this year; the Vinery’s Congrats, who covered 125 mares in ’08; and Journeyman Stud’s newcomer Circular Quay.

A newcomer to the Florida ranks is Chapel Royal. The son of Montbrook is the North American leader in 2-year-old winners with 28 at last count. He goes to Signature Stud for 2009 after having covered 194 mares in ’08 at Ashford Stud in Kentucky for a published fee of $10,000.

Montbrook, the sire of Chapel Royal, is Florida’s leading sire in the money-won category. He stands for $10,000 at Ocala Stud, where Chapel Royal was foaled. A spokesperson for Ocala Stud confirmed that there would be no raise in Montbrook’s fee for 2009. A fee reduction, however, was announced for Ocala Stud’s Concerto, who drops to $5,000 from $7,500.

Florida’s Italian connection

Dr. Paulo Romanelli is a practicing physician in south Florida with ties to Italian racing, an industry wherein his family was prominent for generations. Romanelli’s sideline is earmarking Florida-breds who he thinks are made of the right stuff to race in Italy, and convincing breeders and owners to consider Italian racing. One of his clients is Liam Benson, who operates Mayo West Farm in Morriston, Fla.

Huntingman, by Straight Man, is a Mayo West Farm homebred colt. A 2-year-old, he won his maiden by 12 lengths in Italy and last weekend won his second start, the $46,400 Premio Portobello, which was contested at 1 1/8 miles at the San Siro racecourse.

The dam of Huntingman is Huntingland, by Dove Hunt, and she has a yearling colt by Bridlewood Farm’s Put It Back who is, according to Benson, a candidate for next March’s Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. selected 2-year-olds in training sale. The mare is back in foal to Signature Stallion’s Straight Man and will return to this son of Saint Ballado in 2009.

One More Dubai, by E Dubai, was a weanling purchase for $20,000 at the 2005 OBS fall mixed sale. The 3 year-old colt was third in the Group 1 Premio Roma this past week, beaten less than a length in the 1 1/4-mile turf fixture at San Siro.