09/09/2004 11:00PM

Steinbrenner strikes gold


George M. Steinbrenner III, generally referred to as "The Boss," made a change of Kinsman Farm personnel earlier this year when he hired Ed Sexton, formerly with Ocala Stud Farm, as farm manager.

Steinbrenner bred and raced the millionaire graded stakes winner Concerto and had Triple Crown hopes for the son of Chief's Crown. Concerto's forte was middle distances, however. He won graded stakes at distances up to 1 1/8 miles and was second in the Saratoga Breeders' Cup to Awesome Again at 1 1/4 miles.

When Concerto's racing days ended in 1998, Steinbrenner, who admittedly does not like the hassle of standing a stallion, sent Concerto to stand at Ocala Stud.

Concerto proved quick off the mark. He sent 33 runners from his first crop to the races and 25 of them won - 14 of these as 2-year-olds. That first crop also produced four stakes winners. This was enough to place Concerto among the freshman sire leaders. Steinbrenner did not leave it to others to support his stallion.

"Kinsman Farm has been breeding on the average of six mares a year to Concerto," said Mike O'Farrell, the owner of Ocala Stud.

Ocala Stud took three offspring of Concerto to this year's OBS spring sale of 2-year-olds in training. Sexton was familiar with two of the colts and recommended both to Steinbrenner. Never one to zip the pocketbook, Steinbrenner went to the sale and bought them both.

The first went for $87,000. This bay or brown colt was out of the winning mare Hurry Home Hillary, by Deputed Testimony, from the family of stakes winner and sire Out of Place. He had already been named Bellamy Road and Steinbrenner decided to keep the moniker.

The second was a gray or roan colt out of Mauvin Gway, by Rajab. Steinbrenner bid $75,000 for this half-brother to the Grade 2 stakes winner Shake You Down.

The pre-sale workout times for both were 23.20 for a quarter-mile. For the remaining three days of time trials, revved up sales 2-year-olds were going quarters in 21 and change.

"There was a stiff wind blowing up the stretch that day and times were relatively slow," O'Farrell said.

Steinbrenner sent Bellamy Road to Michael Dickinson, a recent addition to his stable roster of trainers.

Bellamy Road made a successful debut sprinting at Delaware Park on Aug. 3. On Sept. 6, Bellamy Road made his second start, in the Grade 3 Cradle Stakes at River Downs. Third choice in a field of eight, Bellamy Road took command soon after the start and stretched his speed around two turns, winning the 1 1/16-mile Cradle by almost three lengths.

Steinbrenner is reported to be in New York urging on his Yankees, but he is, no doubt, already thinking of the first Saturday in May.

Storm damage minimal

Hurricane Frances could have been worse, much worse. That's the collective overview of the Marion County horse industry.

Jerry Parks of JP Insurance Group sums it up: "We have roughly 150 claims to process but no horse fatalities. Farms lost roofs and buildings were damaged by wind and flying debris, but, thankfully, no deaths."

"We lost trees everywhere, and some of them were old-timers, said O'Farrell of Ocala Stud. "But that was mainly it. Of course, electricity, or lack of it, was a problem, and still is for many of the farms."

"We made the OBS barns available to those needing shelter," said Tom Ventura, the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's general manager. "And, roughly 600 horses of all breeds were stabled with us. The OBS did not, like so many of the farms did, lose power. And this was a big plus."