02/17/2010 12:00AM

Yankee Gentleman meets a demand


Leestown, a leading Louisiana sire, died in 2008. Sefapiano, another one of the state's more popular studs, died just last month. Yonaguska, new to the state in 2009, and one of Louisiana's top-level stallions, was recently sold to Turkey.

There exists a gap at the high end of the stallion market, and Brett Brinkman, who runs La Mesa Stallion Station in Carencro, La., hopes to help fill it with 11-year-old Yankee Gentleman.

Yankee Gentleman, a son of Storm Cat, moved to La Mesa from Kentucky to stand the 2010 season, his stud fee advertised at $5,000, as high as any stallion in the state. Yankee Gentleman's third crop races in 2010, and he already has experienced success from his first two crops to race. Yankee Gentleman's first crop included good stakes winners Golden Yank and Yankee Bravo, and he is the sire of the 3-year-old Louisiana-bred Speedacious, who earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 103 in an explosive sprint-stakes win late last year at Fair Grounds.

"He's definitely a big fish here," said Brinkman. "I just felt like we needed an upper-end horse in the state, but more so, a horse that was accepted by trainers. I know it sounds odd, because most people are searching for a stallion accepted by the sales arena, but I wanted a horse that trainers liked."

Brinkman stands a better chance of finding out how trainers feel about certain stallions than most stallion operators, in great part because he is one. Brinkman wears many hats in the Thoroughbred business, which has occupied the better part of his life. He grew up mainly in the Ocala, Fla., area with his aunt and uncle, Joe and Betty King, who operated Waldemar Farm, a full service Thoroughhred facility that provided an ideal learning environment for Brinkman.

Brinkman went to work on the racetrack for a while, then took a job with Arthur Appleton's Bridlewood Farms, where he worked for about eight years. After that came a period of breaking young horses and pinhooking on his own, until 12 years ago, when owner-breeder Bill Heiligbrodt hired Brinkman to work on retainer. Through Heiligbrodt, Brinkman got a look at the booming Louisiana-bred industry, and wound up buying the property that became La Mesa. Now, besides shuttling back and forth between La Mesa and another farm he owns in Florida, Brinkman also trains a string of Louisiana horses based at the Evangeline Training Center in Lafayette.

So, yes, when Brinkman made a list of stallions he might bring into Louisiana for 2010, and sought trainer opinion on the offspring of particular studs, he had no trouble accumulating information.

"Ability is one thing, but for a trainer to like a horse in his barn, they've got to be able to train them," Brinkman said. "Most of the horses by Yankee Gentleman are trainable horses. I made a list I thought I could get to the state, and he was not very far down that list."

Brinkman, who has six other stallions at La Mesa, said he hopes to breed Yankee Gentleman to 70 mares this season. The state, awash in stallions since slot-machine money boosted Louisiana-bred purses into the stratosphere, is in the midst of a downward correction in the stallion market. But there is still room for a big fish or two.

Half Ours has book of more than 100

Val Murrell, at the Clear Creek Stud in Folsom, had the same kind of idea as Brinkman: Import a stud for 2010 with a little more pedigree and flash, and place him near the top of the state's market. Murrell's selection was Half Ours, a 7-year-old Unbridled's Song who is closely related to Yankee Gentleman on his female side.

Half Ours went to stud in 2008, and stood his first two seasons at Taylor Made Farm in Kentucky. A $6.1 million 2-year-old in training purchase, Half Ours raced sparingly during three seasons, and made only seven starts in his career. A stakes winner at 2, he made only one start at 3, but won the Grade 2 Richter Scale at age 4. His offspring have sold for up to $50,000 at auction.

Murrell said Half Ours, who is advertised for a $4,500 fee, would breed more than 100 mares in 2010.