Tropical Turf H. (gr. III)

(gr. IIIT , 9f ,)

HOST (CHI) (CH h, 118 lb) $60,000
Hussonet —Colonna Traiana (CHI) , by Roy
B—Haras De Pirque, CHI.; O—Melnyk, Eugene and Laura; T—Todd A. Pletcher

Silver Tree (CH h, 118 lb) $20,000
Hennessy —Blue Begum , by With Approval
B—Vegso Racing Stable, FL.; O—Peter Vegso; T—William I. Mott

Demeteor (DK B/ g, 114 lb) $11,000
Dehere —Seattle Meteor , by Seattle Slew
B—Grand Farm, KY.; O—Kenneth E. Hoffman; T—Kenneth E. Hoffman

Margins: neck, ½, 1. Others: Mogador 115($6,000) , In Hand 115($3,000) , Keep Cool 115 , Private Scandal 115 , Sea Pleasure 115 , Bob's Proud Moment 115 , Final Prophecy 115 , Colonial Bay 113 , Pah 114 . Winning Jockey, John R. Velazquez.

Eugene and Laura Melnyk might have a new powerhouse in their racing stable to take the place of such retired male stars as Speightstown and Strong Hope. Host, a Chilean-bred champion colt who arrived in the U.S. last year, won the Dec. 4 Tropical Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Calder Race Course for his second consecutive stakes win. The 8-5 favorite, Host closed from three lengths back at the eighth pole to win by a neck.

Host, who won the Oct. 30 Knickerbocker Handicap (gr. IIT) and earlier placed in the Cliff Hanger (gr. IIIT) and Excelsior Breeders’ Cup (gr. III) Handicaps, is through for the year. Trainer Todd Pletcher said Host probably will run next in the Feb. 12 Appleton Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park. Host raced twice at the 2004 Gulfstream meeting, and finished second both times.

Speightstown and Strong Hope will enter stud in 2005 in Central Kentucky. Winner of the Oct. 30 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I), Speightstown will stand at Bill Casner and Kenny Troutt’s WinStar Farm near Versailles, Ky. Strong Hope, a grade II winner, will hold court at the Hancock family’s Claiborne Farm near Paris, Ky.

The Melnyks, who bought the former Mockingbird Farm near Ocala, Fla., in 2002 and renamed it Winding Oaks Farm, rank sixth on the 2004 leading owners’ list by earnings. Their runners this year have earned $4.2 million, and have won at a 20% rate and finished in the top three at a 49% rate. In addition to millionaire Speightstown, the Melnyks are represented by 2004 stakes winners Black Rock Road (a homebred), Flower Forest, French Village, Harmony Lodge, and Two Mile Hill. Eugene Melnyk is chairman of the Toronto-based pharmaceutical firm Biovail Corp.

Hussonet, sire of Host, has sired 62 known stakes winners, including 17 added-money winners of 2004. Hussonet, who stood for a time in Chile, is owned by John Messara’s Arrowfield Stud and stands at that Australian farm.—D.S.