10/17/2002 12:00AM

Stallion roster declines but book sizes rise


LEXINGTON, Ky. - There are fewer active Thoroughbred stallions in North America, but their book sizes are growing. That's the message from The Jockey Club's Reports of Mares Bred for the 2002 breeding season.

The Jockey Club reported Thursday that 3,364 stallions covered 59,090 mares in North America this year. That is a decline of 2.7 percent in the active stallion population since last year, but the number of mares bred rose 1.3 percent in the same time frame. The number of stallions bred to 100 or more mares this year was 93, up from 77 last year.

Ashford Stud, the North American division of the Irish-based global breeding conglomerate Coolmore Stud, perennially leads stallion farms in terms of book size. This year is no different. Coolmore/Ashford stallions filled 12 of the top 15 slots in numbers of mares bred, starting with Grand Slam, who had North America's largest book of 215 mares.

At $25,000 a breeding, that theoretically means Grand Slam alone could have grossed $5,375,000 for Coolmore on his Northern Hemisphere breeding season. In reality, that income is likely to be somewhat lower, given that Grand Slam is advertised as syndicated, and shareholders generally are entitled to a free season each year.

The rest of the top 15 stallions by book size, with their 2002 advertised fee in parentheses, are Coolmore's Giant's Causeway ($135,000) with 213 mares; Coolmore's High Yield ($30,000) with 184; Coolmore's Louis Quatorze ($10,000) with 178; Coolmore's Tale of the Cat ($25,000) with 172; Coolmore's Fusaichi Pegasus ($135,000) with 169; Coolmore's Black Minnaloushe ($15,000) with 161; Coolmore's Stravinsky ($25,000) with 158; Spendthrift's Mr. Greeley ($25,000) with 149; Coolmore's Hennessy ($45,000) with 146; Coolmore's Thunder Gulch ($80,000) with 145; Coolmore's Honour and Glory ($30,000) with 144; Vinery's More Than Ready ($25,000) and Hill 'n' Dale's Mutakddim ($7,500) with 142 each; and Coolmore's Royal Academy ($20,000) with 138.

The figures released Thursday include about 90 percent of mares bred this year. Reports of Mares Bred forms are due on Aug. 1 of each breeding season, but Jockey Club officials expect from 800 to 1,000 reports to be filed late.

Busy agenda for Brida

On New York Showcase Day, Saturday, Dennis Brida will be among the New York-breds' most enthusiastic supporters.

Brida, a 53-year-old former trainer, took the executive director position at the New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc., in April after Michael Flynn, the former executive director, moved to Maryland.

Brida said his current priorities at the NYTB include promoting New York-breds and the New York-bred incentive programs, helping the push for video lottery terminals at New York racetracks, and expanding breeders' educational programs.

Another agenda item: getting the breeding incentive program included in out-of-state simulcasting revenue. "That's an area of big growth," Brida said. "If a bet is made at New York City Off-Track Betting, the Breeding and Development Fund get some of that money. But if it's made through TVG, we're not included, though the horsemen are. So purses increase, but the amount to the breeders' awards doesn't. We're saying we'd like to be part of the team, because we don't want to oppose bringing TVG to New York."

In the meantime, Brida said, the NYTB is dedicated to helping the New York Racing Association bring fans directly to the track.

"As horsemen, we need to create more special days like Showcase Day, and we need to get people involved from the community," said Brida, who points to promotions like free admission for Nassau County residents and American veterans as good ways to start. "We have a beautiful facility at Belmont, and if people have a good time, they'll come back."

Gorgeous dead at 16

Multiple Grade 1 winner Gorgeous died at age 16 on Oct. 4 after an internal hemorrhage. The death, first reported by Thoroughbred Times, occurred at the Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital. Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Ky., sent the Slew o' Gold mare to the clinic when farm officials discovered that she was hemorrhaging.

Gorgeous was a daughter of 1990 Broodmare of the Year, Kamar, who also produced Grade 1 winner Seaside Attraction and graded or group stakes winners Key to the Moon and Hiaam.

Gorgeous won or placed in 13 of her 14 lifetime starts, and she counted three Grade 1 races - the 1989 Ashland Stakes, the 1989 Hollywood Oaks, and the 1990 the Vanity Invitational Handicap - among her eight career victories. She also finished second in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Distaff and Mother Goose Stakes in 1989 and in the Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap and Spinster in 1990.

In addition to her Grade 1 wins, Gorgeous's stakes career included victories in the 1990 Apple Blossom and the 1990 La Canada, both Grade 2, along with the ungraded Santa Ysabel and Bourbonette Stakes in 1989. In three seasons of racing, she accumulated $1,171,370 in earnings.

From nine foals of racing age so far, Gorgeous produced stakes winner Stunning, a Nureyev filly who is group-placed in France, and the stakes-placed Mr. Prospector filly Sweetheart, who also raced in France.

Gorgeous produced an Anabaa filly this year.