Final nominations for Calder's 2003 Florida Stallion Stakes closed early this month with a total of 880 juveniles eligible for the rich $1.2 million series, which begins Aug. 9.Last year, 816 2-year-olds were nominated.This will mark the 22nd running of the track's 2-year-old showcase which is restricted to offspring of nominated stallions standing in the state in 2000 and kept eligible through a series of payments as weanlings, yearlings and 2-year-olds .Ocala Stud's 13-year-old Montbrook is among the leading stallions by numbers with 29 eligible, including a colt that was making headlines before he ever ran. Bred by Ocala Stud, the dark bay out of Cut Class Leanne was purchased for a record $1.2 million at the OBS February 2-year-old sales.Now named Chapel Royal, he was the last horse in the ring that night and was purchased by agent Demi O'Byrne for Michael Tabor. Placed with trainer Todd Pletcher in New York, he made his career debut at Belmont on May 15 and drew off to win by more than nine lengths as the 3-to-5 favorite.Other veteran Florida resident stallions with substantial representation include Notebook (19), Kissin Kris (23) and Mecke (17). Full sisters to two stars of Calder's 2002 juvenile crop may try to extend their family history in this summer's Florida Stallion Stakes series. A daughter of Mecke out of Boots n Jackie is a sister to Supah Blitz and a daughter of West Acre out of Beaty Sark is a sister to Ivanavinalot.It is quite early in the 2-year-old racing season but at least one nominee is already a stakes winner: Francis (Skip) McDonnell's Kipper's Night, a son of Kipper Kelly trained by George Handy. The precocious colt, a $6,000 weanling purchase, won the $50,000 Mockingbird Stakes on closing day at Gulfstream on April 24 after winning his debut.
Trainer Manny Tortora will have Supah Blitz' sister, Supah Jackie, among his usually strong juvenile contingent at some point. He already has unveiled a top prospect in James Lewis, Jr.'s homebred gelding Sea Clip. The son of Mecke out of Florida Stallion Stakes winner Devilish Brunette was impressive winning his lone start on April 28.Trainer Jim Hatchett and owner-breeder Jacks or Better Farm had an outstanding group of 2-year-olds develop here last year, including Midas Eyes, but many of them were offspring of Kentucky-based stallions not eligible for the Florida Stallion Stakes.The team has a promising prospect for this year in Proud Lion, a homebred colt by Lucky Lionel out of E.J.'s Honey. The chestnut was the 6-to-5 favorite for his debut on April 27 and romped home an easy winner by nearly four lengths.Another top filly prospect is New Life Stable and Sidney Sacks' aptly named For All Who Dream. Trained by Gerry Procino, the daughter of Eltish went wire-to-wire to win by two lengths on May 11.The most recent debut to attract attention came in the 12th and last race on Memorial Day, when veteran horseman Manny Azpurua turned Oscar Novo's homebred Sir Oscar loose. The son of Halo's Image ran away to score by 8 ¾ lengths as a 12-to-1 chance.