02/01/2008 12:00AM

Vegso has 834,000 reasons to love Millions


The sixth round of the Sunshine Millions, the interstate rivalry between Florida-breds and California-breds, was, most would agree, a rout. Florida-breds won 7 of the 8 events in the series, held last Saturday at Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita. This gives the Sunshine State-breds a record of 32 wins versus 16 for California reps in the six years of Sunshine Millions competition.

One might ask the question: Is Florida breeding that much superior to California breeding? The fact is that most of the Florida-bred horses in these races are by stallions who no longer stand in Florida. The one sire of a victorious Florida-bred standing in Florida is the Ocala Stud stallion Gibson County. He is the sire of American County, winner of the Sunshine Millions Oaks. Not only is American County by a resident Florida sire, but she is out of a mare with extensive Florida roots – a daughter of Florida-bred Pentelicus, who also stood at Ocala Stud.

California’s lone success in the Sunshine Millions came with Bob Black Jack, who won the Dash. The 3-year-old colt is by Stormy Jack, by Bertrando, and is out of Molly’s Prospector, by Native Prospector. Stormy Jack stands in California.

It was a day of days for the “Chicken Soup” books publisher Peter Vegso and Racing Edge, his 140-acre breeding and training center in Ocala. The Vegso colors were carried to victory on three fronts on the day, twice in the Sunshine Millions. His homebred War Monger, by War Chant out of Carnival Delight, by Half a Year, won the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf at Gulfstream. This was followed by a victory by Star Brook at Tampa Bay Downs, and the afternoon was capped at Santa Anita when Go Between, by Point Given out of Mediation, by Caerleon, won the $1?million Sunshine Millions Classic. In all, the Vegso troops won $834,210 that afternoon.

Chuck Patton is the manager of Racing Edge. He has been associated with Vegso in one form or another for more than two decades and has managed Racing Edge for the better part of 12 years.

“There are 30 mares on the farm, and usually we send three-quarters of them to Kentucky to be bred,” Patton said. “This year Mediation is in foal to Point Given and will go back to him. This will give us two full brothers or sisters to Go Between.”

Patton noted that Carnival Delight, the dam of War Monger, is barren this year.

“She’s going back to War Chant,” he said.

Both of these dams have promising younger produce that will be racing this year. Go Between has a half-brother by Orchard Park named Matai, and War Monger has a half-sister by Fusaichi Pegasus named Marvelous Mixture.

Juvenile sale season set to begin

The first of the selected 2-year-olds in training sales is the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.’s February auction, which begins Feb. 12 at noon. This sale is the descendent of the south Florida sale that started the 2-year-olds in training auctions a half-century ago at Hialeah. The OBS has cataloged 171 in this sale, the first conducted over the Ocala synthetic Safetrack.

Sixty horses cataloged for this sale are Florida-breds. And 16 of them are by stallions standing in Florida with first crops racing in ’08. These stallions are Alke (1), Black Mambo (2), Omega Code (6), Peace Rules (1), Read the Footnotes (4), Roar of the Tiger (1), and Spanish Steps (1).

The first of two under-tack shows is Sunday beginning at 9 a.m. The second is next Sunday, Feb. 10, also starting at 9.