06/07/2007 11:00PM

Statebreds spreading stakes sunshine


The first Saturday in June was a break-out one for horses foaled in the Sunshine State. Among the major events was the victory of Delightful Kiss in the Grade 2 Ohio Derby. And Buzzards Bay returned to top form when he won the Grade 2 Californian.

Also in the troop of Florida-bred stakes winners last Saturday was Therecomesatiger in the Opening Verse at Churchill Downs. He took the measure of the Art Appleton-bred Icy Atlantic in that turf fixture. Nerve, by the late Tour d'Or, won the Spend a Buck at Monmouth, while Florida-breds, led by Katy Smiles, swept the first three positions in the featured Hoist Her Flag Stakes at Canterbury Park.

Kissin Kris, the sire of Delightful Kiss, was bred and raced by the late John Franks and stood until Franks's death in 2003 at Franks Farm South in Ocala, Fla. Kissin Kris was not a popular commercial stallion, as he was perceived to be a source of stamina rather than the speed sought by breeders who point for the 2-year-olds in training sales. The fact that he won over $1.6 million - and won the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational Handicap and placed in the Travers and Breeders' Cup Classic - still did not create a needed commercial buzz. So, he spent most of his Ocala career standing for $5,000 with deals. When the Franks estate liquidated its Ocala property along with its 600-plus equine empire, Kissin Kris was sold and moved on to Tommy Town Farm in Santa Ynez, Calif., where he stands for $5,000.

Hobeau Farm, the breeder of Delightful Kiss, was, years ago, among the largest non-commercial Thoroughbred farms and training facilities in the Ocala area. It was developed by Jack Dreyfus Jr. - the man who gave his name and acumen to the mutual funds that bear his name.

The Hobeau Farm team of manager Elmer F. Heubeck Jr. and subsequent Hall of Fame trainer H. Allen Jerkens made the familiar orange silks a potent force on the New York and Florida circuits. Instrumental in this success was a Count Fleet stallion named Beau Gar.

The original Hobeau Farm property was sold last year to S. Roy Lerman and became Lambholm South. But, the Hobeau Farm name continues. Craig L. Wheeler has served as Hobeau Farm's manager for 20 years or more and is in charge of the Dreyfus breeding and boarding operations. There are 20 mares in the Hobeau Farm band. Office manager Myrtle Smith says that the mares are rotated between Florida and Kentucky. Deputy's Delight, by French Deputy, is the dam of Delightful Kiss and she is currently in Kentucky with a colt by Honour and Glory at her side and is carrying a foal by Limehouse.

Not many of them, but they're all runners

Marco Bay, sire of the millionaire racehorse Buzzards Bay, stands in Ocala. This 17-year-old stallion has stood periodically in Florida, Pennsylvania, and here and there since entering stud 10 years ago. A statistic that gets little notice is that the Copelan stallion is among the leaders in terms of average progeny earnings.

"He never had big crops, but those who do make the races can really run," said David Hulber who stands Marco Bay at his Sugar Oaks Farm.

Marco Bay has nine small crops of racing age, and with an average of slightly under five runners per crop.

"Yes, his numbers are respectable, but they haven't filled his book," said Hulber, who says the horse will get 15 mares this year. "Most breeders are looking for 2-year-old sales horses or early 2-year-olds to race. Marco sires the kind of horse that will be much better as late 2-year-olds and older. Still, 19 of his 32 winners won at 2. His two stakes winners came at 3. Noel Hickey of Irish Acres Farm breeds to race, and he sent five mares to him this year."

* The Ocala Breeders' Sales June sale of 2-year-olds in training has set next Saturday and Sunday for the under-tack shows. It should be noted that these shows have an early starting time of 8 a.m. The two-day auction begins the following Tuesday, June 19, with a 10:30 a.m. starting time.