03/19/2004 1:00AM

Another New Yorker in big picture

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - When Friends Lake scooted across the finish line to win the Grade 1 Florida Derby, he became the best homebred runner for Mary and Chester Broman. A chestnut son of A.P. Indy and Antespend bred at the Bromans' Chestertown Farm near Babylon, N.Y., Friends Lake is the second serious challenger (Read the Footnotes is the other) for the classics this year bred in New York.

The Florida Derby winner is out of the Spend a Buck mare Antespend, who is the overall best racer campaigned by the Bromans. They purchased Antespend for $900,000 as a proven racehorse in training at the Elmendorf dispersal of the late Jack Kent Cooke's racing stock at the Keeneland sales in April 1997.

That was early in Antespend's 4-year-old season, and she was already a winner at the Grade 1 level three times. As a 3-year-old, she had won the Las Virgenes, Santa Anita Oaks, and Del Mar Oaks. With 10 victories from 24 starts, Antespend earned slightly more than $1 million.

Alan Porter, a pedigree consultant who works with the Bromans, said, "Chester picked the mare out on his own, as one that was worthy of consideration."

Chester Broman, commenting by phone from Ocala, Fla., said: "I was interested in upgrading my mares and getting a Grade 1-winning mare. I went down to see her run a couple of weeks before the sale, and then I came back to buy her."

After the purchase, Broman kept the mare in training and bred her the first time in 1998. Porter noted that "Antespend was bought after consideration. In terms of pedigree, it's not a commercial pedigree, although there's quality in it. She was a mare you could mate with a lot of different stallions and had some interesting elements in her pedigree."

Broman said that in choosing the mates for Antespend, "I bred her to the four best stallions in the world, I thought."

The first foal was a colt by Storm Cat named Rainmaker, and the second was a Deputy Minister filly named I Love New York.

Broman said, "Rainmaker bowed [a tendon] and is unraced. I Love New York had some ability but was not manageable on the track." She has been retired and is booked to Distorted Humor.

Friends Lake was Antespend's third foal, and in going to A.P. Indy, Porter said, "We'd always considered breeding her either to Seattle Slew or A.P. Indy. The duplication of Buckpasser with A.P. Indy was very appealing, as were the multiple lines of La Troienne. And there were a lot of elements in the pedigree of Spend a Buck that were important for a broodmare sire, although one doesn't have to be a genius to get a good horse by sending a mare like this to A.P. Indy."

They never sent Antespend to Seattle Slew, in part, Porter said, because "we were worried about Seattle Slew conformationally, and then he went out of action" in the breeding shed.

They put off using A.P. Indy, Seattle Slew's most successful son, because, Porter said, "A.P. Indy was the youngest stallion among the ones we liked best, so we went to him later because we felt he would still be around."

When Friends Lake was foaled, he was a good-sized colt. Tom Ryba, farm manager at Chestertown, recalled that "as a baby, he was very hard and muscular. It wasn't the bulging kind of muscle, but when you took hold of him, he didn't feel soft like a foal. He was hard-bodied."

That flat, stayer's muscling is typical of the Buckpasser line, which also tends more to refinement, even to the point of delicacy. Although she was by Horse of the Year Spend a Buck, Antespend was no porcelain doll.

Ryba said: "Antespend was a big mare, about 16-1 hands or more, and coarse. But she could really run."

Mating Spend a Buck, who had the quality and speed to be a front-running Kentucky Derby winner, with the rugged Argentine-bred Auspiciante produced Antespend for Elmendorf Farm. It is a pattern of mating physical types that really works, with Hard Buck being another recent example. The Brazilian-bred Hard Buck is by Spend a Buck out of Social Secret.

Given the success of her mating to A.P. Indy, Antespend would naturally have been bred back to that premier Lane's End Farm stallion. Unfortunately, Antespend died shortly after producing her fourth foal, a filly by Seeking the Gold. Named Seeking the Ante, she is in training with Barry Eisaman, Broman said.