12/05/2003 12:00AM

Stallion coordinator follows 10-point plan to success


Adam Staple is a pedigree guru. That is, his role as stallion coordinator for Ocala's Signature Stallions often requires him to advise breeders as to which stallions best suit their mares, and if none do - which rarely happens, he says - to recommend an outside stallion.

Staple can point with pride to his 14-year-old broodmare, Seattle Moon, by Seattle Dancer. She is the dam of Vous, his homebred 2-year-old, winner of this past week's $100,000 Hollywood Wildcat Stakes at Calder Race Course.

That mating, however, was not arranged by Staple. "She was in foal to Wild Rush when I bought her at Keeneland," for $25,000 in the fall of 2000, he said. "I bought her because I thought she'd be a good mare to breed to Straight Man here at Signature Stallions. And she fits my profile."

The profile is what Staple calls his 10 steps to breeding. "The first is the physical match," he said. "If the mare and the stallion don't complement one another, don't go any further. Put another way, match the phenotype [appearance] before you match the genotype [bloodlines]."

Staple is a Boston University alumnus who, when he could, spent his free time at nearby Suffolk Downs.

"I liked the horses and was a pretty good handicapper," Staple said. "But, this got a little old after a few years, and I turned my attention to racing horses, bought some bottom-level claimers and did okay. Not great, but okay."

Staple left Boston and relocated to St. Petersburg, Fla., where there were a few scattered Thoroughbred operations. He knew that he wanted to get back into the game and that commercial breeding was the way to go.

"I did my homework, read a lot, looked up pedigrees, and developed theories on breeding," Staple said.

Some of Staple's 10 steps are somewhat arcane. Among them is the one that deals with inbreeding to superior females. He posits that within a limit of no more than a half-dozen generations, a breeder should inbreed to a superior female - an outstanding racemare or producer. Yet, Staple is a staunch advocate of the dosage theory, which all but eliminates females in its paradigm.

"My research shows me that dosage is a tremendous guideline," Staple said. "Horses that do not race according to their dosage will often pass on their dosage traits rather than their racing forte.

"Let me give you an example: A horse who is bred to stay and turns out to be a sprinter will almost always return to his dosage, siring stamina rather than speed."

Staple has a 13-acre farm in Ocala and keeps two mares on it. His remaining four mares are quartered in New York, as he also participates in that state's rich breeding program.

Daughter of Strike the Anvil debuts

This past week at Calder Race Course, breeder, owner, and trainer Barry Croft saddled 2-year-old Sailor's Gold in a maiden special. The first-time starter ran a creditable fourth in a promising effort. More notable, though, is the name of her sire: Strike the Anvil.

That is a name some graybeards will remember. A hard-knocking son of Bolinas Boy, Strike the Anvil raced in the mid-70's and, in a five-year campaign, won 28 races including four stakes. Retired to stud in 1979, the bay stallion served mares through his 29th year.

"He died last December," said Bert Pilcher of Shade Tree Farm. "It got a little too cold for him."

Croft was one of Strike the Anvil's loyal supporters. The Calder-based horseman bred his only mare, Spook Sail, repeatedly to him in a nearly monogamous relationship that produced five foals, one of which was the multiple stakes winner Sugar N Spice, a full sister to Sailor's Gold.

Strike the Anvil was 29 when Sailor's Gold was foaled, and Spook Sail was well into her 20's.

Croft is a third-generation horseman. "My mother owned and operated the Barn Bar outside of Tampa Bay Downs," he said. "I grew up in this game. I sent Spook Sail to Strike the Anvil and got such a beautiful foal, I had to go back to him. Sugar N Spice was the frosting on the cake. I may have some more frosting with Sailor's Gold."