05/24/2002 12:00AM

Three-stakes week for Farnsworth


Last week was a good one for Mike Sherman's Farnsworth Farms.

Horses bred there won three stakes. Vesta won the Miss Preakness at Pimlico on May 16. On May 18 - Preakness Day - Bold World won her fourth stakes of the year, the Little Silver Stakes at Monmouth, and Nothing Flat won the Jock LaBelle Stakes at Delaware. According to Sherman, Nothing Flat is Farnsworth's 198th stakes winner.

Also last week, Farnsworth's freshman stallion Double Honor had his first winner when Lady Honoree won a $50,000 maiden claiming race at Calder. Double Honor, a graded stakes winner by Gone West-Holiday Snow, by Storm Cat, entered stud in 1999. His first winner came at a good time for the farm.

"She's Double Honor's first runner and her win really helps, as I am selling a bunch of them at OBS in the June 18 and 19 sale of 2-year-olds in training," Sherman said.

Lucky Lionel, a Grade 2-winning son of Mt. Livermore who stands at Adena Springs South, is the state's freshman leader with five starters and two winners. Those with one winner, in addition to Double Honor, are Grade 2 winner Concerto (Ocala Stud), and Grade 2 winner Northern Afleet and Grade 3 winner Semoran, both of whom stand at Double Diamond Farm.

Doubts about a new track

Concrete information is scarce about the proposed construction of a racetrack within the city limits of Ocala. Behind the Ocala racetrack is Frank Stronach and his Magna Entertainment, which owns several Thoroughbred tracks.

Thus far, 400 acres have been placed under contract by Stronach, according to Mark Roberts, farm manager at Stronach's Adena Springs South. This is in addition to an adjacent seven parcels recently purchased for just under a half-million dollars. Land also has been purchased by an entity that goes by the name of 20020 Delaware Inc.

Roberts was quoted in local media as saying that the master plan for development will soon be presented to the City of Ocala's planning director, Tye Chighizola.

"We are not getting too excited until we see the plans," said Chighizola. "They have not done anything that says that this is for a racetrack. For all I know it could be something else, something completely different."

Any new parimutuel entity in Ocala would impact facilities owned by the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company, which is primarily owned by Florida breeders and Thoroughbred sales agents. The OBS has two parimutuel licenses: The first is to operate an intertrack wagering site and the second to operate Ocala Jai-Alai.

Thom Chiota, president and CEO of OBS, has made no public comment on the possibility of a racetrack in Ocala. David S. Romanik, former president of the Magna-owned Gulfstream Park, says it will take an act of the Florida legislature and approval by the governor to get a permit for a new parimutuel facility in the area.

There's a population of roughly 50,000 in Ocala and another couple of hundred-thousand within an hour's driving distance. Most would agree these numbers fall short of supporting a live parimutuel meet. Ocala Jai-Alai would likely fold were it not supported by simulcast horse and greyhound players who, on the average, number only in the hundreds.