02/17/2011 2:38PM

Whispering Oaks in Louisiana growing in tough times


Right out of high school, Carrol Castille found work at Dees Farm, a breeding operation in central Louisiana, where Castille had grown up. Castille has galloped horses, trained horses, and owned horses. He has bred horses and owns the Evangeline Downs training center, which used to be Evangeline Downs racetrack. His history considered, it was probably only a matter of time until he got into the business of standing stallions. That happened in 2010, and Castille’s Whispering Oaks Farm roster is up to four for the 2011 breeding season.

Whispering Oaks this year is standing second-year-Louisiana sire Intimidator, who had a strong run with 2-year-olds in 2010; Sorcerer’s Stone, whose first foals are 2-year-olds of 2011; Unbridledsensation, whose first foals are yearlings this year; and K One King, who took up residence at Whispering Oaks about a month ago.

Castille’s expansion into the stallion business comes at a time when many Louisiana breeders are pulling back on the sire front. With on-track slot machine parlors enriching the state’s purse structures, the Louisiana stallion population skyrocketed in the 2000’s, but purses have stabilized or dropped a bit, even as the state has been flooded with stallions.

But Castille, 44, is clearly no novice in the horse business, and he said he entered the stallion game with confidence.

“The simple fact is, I own my two stallions from the racing side,” he said, referring to Sorcerer’s Stone and Unbridledsensation, “so I was already in stallions. Sure, we have to cut deals like everyone these days, but now we’re starting to get some proven stallions.”

Before 2010, Whispering Oaks was a training farm more than a breeding farm. The 78-acre property has a six-furlong training track, and Castille based a large racing operation there with a private trainer until switching over to breeding, boarding, and stallions. The farm has 65 stalls for mares and six for stallions. Castille keeps his mares there, as well as mares for outside boarders. One of his main clients therein is Keith Asmussen − father of Cash and Steve Asmussen − who keeps 20 mares at Whispering Oaks.

Asmussen also is the owner of Intimidator, who was moved from Texas to Louisiana for 2010. Intimidator, a Gone West foal of 2001, was a $2.1 million yearling who won 1 of 8 starts, his career derailed by hock issues, according to Castille. Intimidator has 27 foals of racing age, and only 16 have started. But of those 16, 11 have won. His colt Simply Gone won a division of the Texas Stallion Stakes in 2010, and at Evangeline Downs, the colt Powerfully won the male division of the John Franks Memorial Sales Stakes last year. Intimidating Woman, by Intimidator, finished second in the female division of the Franks. Castille said Intimidator covered 110 mares in 2010 and would cover at least as many in 2011.

Out of the blue, 15-year-old K One King, the recent Whispering Oaks arrival, has started 2011 hot. A son of Apalachee, he was a good early-season 3-year-old of 1999 but scored his biggest win in the 2000 Oaklawn Handicap. He stood several years in Kentucky to no great success but has started getting winners in Louisiana. As of last week, he ranked sixth in the state with six winning performances so far this year.

Castille also is excited about the prospects of Run Production, whom he purchased last year in partnership with Don Hargroder. Run Production is off to a strong 2011 start with seven winners from 22 runners. He is standing for $3,500 at Hargroder’s Circle H Farms. Castille, new to the stallion business, is plum out of room at his place.