11/18/2005 1:00AM

Strive to stud in 2006 at Pepper Oaks Farm

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Strive, purchased for $180,000 at Keeneland last Monday, will enter stud in 2006 at Pepper Oaks Farm in Santa Ynez, Calif., according to farm manager Jim Wilson.

Strive was purchased by Patricia Youngman, who operates Pepper Oaks Farm.

Raced and bred by Marty and Pam Wygod and trained by Bill Mott, Strive won 4 of 24 starts and $287,910 in a career that ended earlier this year after a victory in an allowance race at Belmont Park.

The highlight of Strive's racing career was a third to eventual Horse of the Year Mineshaft in the 2003 New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds.

Strive is by Deputy Minister out of Symbolically, the dam of four stakes winners: Sweet Life, Caribbean Pirate, Echo of Yesterday, and Pirate's Revenge. Sweet Life is the dam of Sweet Catomine, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2004.

Strive will stand for $3,500, Wilson said.

Wilson said that Pepper Oaks had considered Strive a stallion prospect for several months, following a conversation he had with Russell Drake, who manages the Wygods' California farm. "We tried to purchase him privately, but he was already entered in the sale," Wilson said. "I'm good friends with Russell and we talked about the horse."

Pepper Oaks will have five stallions in 2006, including Cat Dreams, Malek, Swiss Yodeler, and Trail City.

Through Thursday, Swiss Yodeler was the third-ranked stallion in California by progeny earnings this year with $2,651,839, trailing Bertrando ($3,085,328) and In Excess ($2,662,841).

Ten statebred stakes at Santa Anita

There are 10 stakes for statebreds at the upcoming Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, a schedule led by the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic for California-breds and Florida-breds on Jan. 28.

The Sunshine Millions Classic, run over 1 1/8 miles, was also run at Santa Anita in 2004. It was run at Gulfstream Park in Florida in 2003 and 2005. The series began in 2003.

The other Sunshine Millions races at Santa Anita on Jan. 28 are the $500,000 Filly and Mare Turf over 1 1/8 miles, the $300,000 Filly and Mare Sprint over six furlongs, and the $250,000 Dash for 3-year-olds over six furlongs.

The first stakes for statebreds is the $125,000 California Breeders' Champion Stakes for 2-year-olds over seven furlongs on Dec. 26, opening day.

The Sunshine Millions Classic is a goal for McCann's Mojave, who won his first stakes around two turns in the 1 1/8-mile $250,000 Cal Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 6.

"He came out of the race in good shape," said trainer Paddy Gallagher. "Maybe we'll try to get him a race the last part [of the Hollywood Park meet] or the first part of Santa Anita."

The Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf could mark the 2006 debut for Valentine Dancer, who finished 11th in the Cal Cup Distaff.

Trainer Craig Lewis said Valentine Dancer may not start until that race. "She needs a little freshener, like we all do," he said. "We'll see what that does for her."

Valentine Dancer, 5, has won 8 of 28 starts and $1,144,126, making her one of the richest statebred females in history. Lewis said that no retirement plans have been finalized, even though there is a possibility that Valentine Dancer could run for the first few months of 2006 and then be bred.

"It's always a chance for a mare with her value, but nothing has been decided," Lewis said.