10/30/2008 11:00PM

State stallions fail to hit BC mark


Much has been made, and rightly so, about the European-trained horses being the dominant group in the 2008 edition of the Breeders’ Cup. What has not been noted is the inability of Florida’s Thoroughbred industry in general and Florida stallions in particular to measure up to world standards, as they once did.

In the 25 years since the inaugural BC championship races in 1984, Florida-breds have won 19 races – none in this year’s two-day, 14-race event. Fourteen of the Florida-bred Breeders’ Cup winners were by stallions who stood in Florida when their get won a BC event.

This year a total of 18 Florida-breds raced in the Cup. Only five of them are by stallions currently standing in Florida. The state’s best results came in the Sprint, where Fatal Bullet (by Adena Springs South sire Red Bullet) finished second and In Summation (by Bridlewood Farm’s Put It Back) ran fourth. The other three Florida sires of starters in the ’08 Breeders’ Cup are Graeme Hall (Winding Oaks Farm), Black Mambo (Bridlewood Farm), and Straight Man (Signature Thoroughbreds).

Each breeding season, Florida stallion stations announce the arrival of sire prospects who, following the usual hoopla, are promoted as the stallions of the future. Trouble is that if they make any waves, these sires are usually sold or moved to other venues.

Value to be found with newcomers

Irv Weiner is a practicing attorney who, with his wife France, has had the experience of operating a relatively small commercial entity since the 1970s. The Weiners’ modus operandi is to sell weanlings, yearlings and 2-year-olds in the established markets. The Weiners are the breeders of the stallion Closing Argument, a graded stakes winner and second in the 2005 Kentucky Derby to Giacomo.

“Frankly, I don’t know what I am going to when it comes to stallion bookings for the coming season,” said Weiner. “I’d rather not incur the expenses of shipping and boarding, but I don’t see many local alternatives.”

Weiner points out that a sire such as Ocala Stud’s Montbrook, with a fee of $10,000 live foal, is a good value for those who race or those who sell his get as 2-year-olds in training (17 Montbrook 2-year-olds in ’08 averaged $84,235), but not such a good thing for those who sell yearlings. Montbrook’s ’08 yearling average – 14 sold for an average of $19,900 – can be a losing proposition for those who breed for the yearling market.

“I guess that I will look for some hotshot newcomer and go that route,” Weiner said. “Not only do you have to like the stallion, respect the people who are marketing the stallion, but you still have hope that down the road buyers will support that stallion in the marketplace.”

Steve Silver has a 40-year history in the industry. He was the business manager for his family’s interest in Farnsworth Farms. He was co-owner and general manager of Vintage Acres Farm, general manager for George Steinbrenner’s Kinsman Stud, and of late has been the business manager for Sez Who Thoroughbreds.

“I have to agree with Irv,” said Silver. “If I had a group of mares that were worth shipping to Kentucky to be bred, I would first look and see who the new stallions are in Ocala. My perception is that if a stallion entering stud meets your criteria of pedigree, conformation, and performance, that this is the way to go in Florida – especially if you are breeding for the market. The next step is find a stud fee that you think is commensurate with value.”

* The Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. has modified its 2-year-olds in training sales dates. The traditional February sale has been delayed a week to Feb. 17. Under tack will be on Feb. 13. The Adena Springs sale of 2-year-old homebreds will be renewed in 2009 and it is scheduled for March 16. The Darley-OBS Championship Day of Racing has been moved to Feb. 16.