09/27/2007 11:00PM

Top-notch talent without the big stud fees

EmailFlorida's success as a source of the solid stakes horse has, more often than not, been built upon stallions with modest stud fees. That is, those sires who can get you the profitable horse and on occasion a money-making graded stakes winner, and get the job done for a fee of $7,500 or less.

The recent Super Derby winner Going Ballistic is a good example. He is by Lite the Fuse, who stood at Adena Springs South for $7,500 before moving on to stand in Pennsylvania.

Another stallion who has moved on is Eltish. The one-time Live Oak Stud resident stallion had moderate acceptance when he stood in Florida for fees ranging from $3,500 to $5,000 live foal. Eltish, a 15- year-old son of Cox's Ridge, relocated to upstate New York following the 2006 breeding season. He currently stands at Saratoga Glen Farm for $3,500 and reportedly covered 50 mares in '07.

In 2006, Eltish got only 10 mares at Live Oak.

"Eltish just wasn't commercial for us," said John Rasmussen, the general manager of Live Oak Stud. "We never got more than 30 or so mares a year. His get were usually late-comers, and Ocala is 2-year-olds in training territory."

Silk Ridge, by any measure, is the leading 2-year-old filly racing at Calder Race Course, and she is from the penultimate Florida crop of Eltish.

Bred by Roger and Nikki Schick, Silk Ridge sold at last year's Ocala yearling sale for $5,200, or a little less than half the median price for the 11 yearlings sold in '06 by her sire. Gordon Potter signed the sales tab and the filly made her debut for Kathleen D. Keen. That $5,200 yearling purchase has won 4 of 6 starts. Saturday's victory in Calder's $150,000 Brave Raj Stakes, her third stakes win and boosted her earnings to $266,740. The $400,000 Florida Stallion Stakes finale awaits her on Oct. 13.

Fortunate buy-back

Rising Hill Farm's owner, Jim DiMare, races under the banner of JD Farms. He, too, participated in the same yearling sale that sold Silk Ridge. The difference, however, is that his homebred Wise Answer was bought back for $4,500.

Wise Answer is the leader of the 2-year-old male division at Calder and is the early favorite for the male finale of the $400,000 Florida Stallion Stakes on Oct. 13. He was second in the Dr. Fager division of the series and he won the Affirmed Stakes division. This past Saturday's victory in the $150,000 Foolish Pleasure Stakes boosted his earnings to $201,800.

Wise Answer is by Wised Up, a graded-stakes-winning Dixieland Band stallion whom DiMare bought because he thought the stallion would be a good pedigree cross for his mares as well as an overall source of stamina.

"I have a lot of daughters of Colony Light [by Pleasant Colony] and I thought Wised Up would really do well with Colony Light mares," he said. "Wise Answer is out of a Colony Light mare."

Pleasant Colony has not left much of a mark as a sire of sires, but in Colony Light he has one of his more successful offspring at stud. Through August, Colony Light has sired 29 black-type horses who have won closed to $12 million.

"I don't have anything else out of the dam of Wise Answer right now," said DiMare, "but she is in foal to Marciano, a young stallion we have by Two Punch. He stands for $3,500.

"I was always high on Wised Up, but, to be frank, he's not commercial. Maybe now that so many tracks are switching over to Polytracks, he'll get some notice. Wised Up's get do well going long on the turf and short on the dirt, so they should be able to handle Polytracks."