Bobby Zen

Pleasant Acres Farm outside of Morriston, Florida launched its stallion division in 2013 with the vision of bringing top-class sires to the Sunshine State.

Over a decade later, the operation founded by Joe and Helen Barbazon is still working toward that same goal. This year they’ve provided a major boost to the Florida stallion ranks with the addition of five newcomers for 2024, bringing their stallion roster up to a total count of 13 members.

With his first-crop of 2-year-olds hitting the track this year, Bodexpress (Bodemeister) has relocated from California to Pleasant Acres for 2024. Meanwhile the farm has brought in four new recruits who recently retired from racing: Doppelganger, a Grade I-winning son of Into Mischief; Verifying (Justify), a half-brother to champion Midnight Bisou; Grade II Fountain of Youth S. winner Simplification (Not This Time); and near-millionaire Chess Chief (Into Mischief).

Pleasant Acres’ Director of Stallion Services Christine Jones explained how their ambition to go out and recruit these notable racehorses with such in-demand sirelines reflects the farm’s mission to make bloodlines normally only accessible in Kentucky available to Florida breeders right in their home state.

“We worked extremely hard this year to try to bring in yet another level of horse,” Jones said. “With the stallions that we brought in this year, our thought was that perhaps all of us who are busy running up and down the road to Kentucky might be able to stay home with a couple of mares, which would be really nice. Our roster has grown in leaps and bounds with all the headline names.”

The first of the newcomers to arrive at Pleasant Acres last fall, Doppelganger will stand for $10,000 in 2024 and will be campaigned by a syndicate of partners that includes Pleasant Acres.

A $570,000 yearling out of the multiple graded stakes-placed Quiet American mare Twice the Lady, Doppelganger’s name is a nod to his shared physical resemblance with GI Kentucky Derby winner Authentic, another son of Into Mischief campaigned by a partnership that included SF Bloodstock, Starlight Racing and Madaket Stables. A TDN Rising Star on debut as a juvenile, Doppelganger was twice graded stakes placed at three and got his Grade I score in the 2023 Carter H. as a 4-year-old.

Doppelganger gives trainer Brittany Russell her first Grade I victory in the 2023 Carter H. | Sarah Andrew

“Doppelganger brings a lot to the table for us,” said Jones. “He is a stellar individual. What a strong shoulder and a great hip. He is absolutely what I think everyone is looking for.”

Few incoming stallions have as high-profile a pedigree as Verifying. The half-brother to 2019 Eclipse Award champion older dirt female Midnight Bisou joins Spendthrift Farm’s Arabian Lion as the first two sons of Justify to go to stud. Verifying’s dam Diva Delite (Repent), winner of the GIII Florida Oaks, is also responsible for multiple stakes winner Stage Left (Congrats).

First or second in seven of his 11 lifetime starts at two and three, Verifying won the 2023 GIII Indiana Derby and put in runner-up performances in the GI Champagne S., GI Blue Grass S., GI H. Allen Jerkens Memorial S. and GIII Matt Winn S.

Jeff Bloom, founder of Bloom Racing Stables which campaigned Midnight Bisou, joins Pleasant Acres as two members of the syndicate that will launch Verifying’s stud career. The 4-year-old will stand for $10,000.

Simplification is the first the first Not This Time to stand in Florida and also one of the first three sons of the red hot sire to launch his stud career, along with Coolmore’s Epicenter, who stands for $40,000 this year as his first foals hit the ground, and Lane’s End’s Up to the Mark, who is new this year for $25,000. Simplification with stand for $6,500 in 2024.

The Florida-bred is out of the stakes-placed Candy Ride (Arg) mare Simplify Confection, who hails from the family of champion Ashado (Saint Ballado). As a juvenile, Simplification broke his maiden in his second start by almost 17 lengths. The next year, he won the Mucho Macho Man S. and the GII Fountain of Youth S. before placing third in trio of graded stakes, including the GI Florida Derby. He also finished fourth in the GI Kentucky Derby and at four, placed in the GII Gulfstream Park Mile S.

Simplification was purchased as a yearling by Florida horsewoman Tami Bobo. She opted to skip the 2-year-old sales with him and race him herself. Even after the colt’s hair-raising debut under the tutelage of trainer Antonio Sano, Bobo went against her normal practice and turned down offers so that she could continue racing the colt herself. Even now as Simplification debuts as a stallion, Bobo remains at the helm of his career.

“Tami is well invested in this horse and he still belongs to her 100%,” said Jones. “It’s lovely to have people who have so much excitement and passion because it’s their own horse. She is sending between 25 and 30 mares to him this year, so it really shows her enthusiasm and it’s nice to be able to tell the breeders that because they know that the owner is vested as well.”

The highest earner among the four new guys, Chess Chief will stand for $5,000 in 2024. The son of Into Mischief is out of a daughter of GISW Plenty of Grace (Roberto), who is a half-sister to champion Soaring Softly (Kris S.). Racing from two through seven for trainer Dallas Stewart, Chess Chief is five-times graded stakes-placed and got his signature win in the 2021 GII New Orleans Classic S. Owner James Coleman has retained ownership for the Virginia-bred’s stallion career.

“He’s a very sturdy horse, running 39 times and on the board in 14 of those starts, and he is a very good-looking horse,” said Jones. “He looks a lot like Into Mischief for sure. A nice, big shoulder, good walk, very nice hip. He was also Horse of the Year in Virginia, which is a pretty nice accolade. He brings a lot of good things to Florida.”

Verifying and Tapit Trice battle to the wire in the GI Blue Grass S. | Coady

Presenting four new sires to a regional market all in one year certainly cannot be an easy task, but Jones said that in many ways, the new recruits have spoken for themselves. She shared that they expect each stallion to fill a book of over 100 mares this year.

“Our clients are very pleased to see the level of horse that is coming in now,” she said. “We are very hopeful that each of these guys will get a very full book. We are well on our way to having that accomplished, so I couldn’t be happier for the Barbazons and all of the owners of these horses. It’s a challenge these days to make that happen, especially here in Florida and I think probably anywhere since our crop is on the decline, but I think in Florida we may even be seeing some people who were maybe taking a little break but are now coming back in, so that’s great.”

Also new to Pleasant Acres this year, Bodexpress entered stud at Barton Thoroughbreds in California in 2021 but relocated to Pleasant Acres for this season. The son of Bodemeister won the 2020 GI Clark S. and will stand for $3,500. This year he will be represented by his first crop of 2-year-olds. Four went through the ring at the recently concluded OBS March Sale, including a colt out of Tart’s Knickers (Ghostzapper) that worked in :10 flat and sold to agent Steve Young for $85,000.

There’s no shortage of young blood on the Pleasant Acres roster. MGSW Gunnevera (Dialed In), MGSP Curlin‘s Honor (Curlin) and GISP Sweetontheladies (Twirling Candy) are also represented by their first juveniles this year. Meanwhile MGSW Leinster (Majestic Warrior) has his first crop of yearlings and both Magic On Tap (Tapit), winner of the 2021 GII Triple Bend S., and Mutasaabeq (Into Mischief), 2020 GII Bourbon S. victor, have their first foals arriving this spring.

The stallion division is just one sector of the Pleasant Acres operation. The farm will have around 150 new foals this year, from both client-owned mares and Pleasant Acres’ own broodmare band.

“The Barbazons have worked very hard their whole lives,” said Jones. “Helen and Joe have made this a lifelong pursuit. They started off at a very small place in Ocala, like most of us. They had 20 acres, which they quickly outgrew, so that’s how they located this [current] piece of property, which encompasses about 450 acres. The Barbazons started the stallion division when it became very apparent that we needed a few more stallions in Florida. They’re always looking for a new chapter and I think this one has turned out really well.”

The post Pleasant Acres Optimistic on New Sire Quintet appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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