10/24/2002 11:00PM

Are these the state's next two stars?

Email

Leadership of the Maryland-bred 2-year-old divisions was an open question until Oct. 14, when two well-connected youngsters scored resoundingly in Maryland Fund stakes at Laurel Park.

Bridge Out Again, a colt owned, bred, and trained by Richard W. "Dickie" Small, fought off Maryland Million Nursery winner Cherokee's Boy to win by a half-length in the Rollicking Stakes, completing the seven furlongs in 1:24.19.

Kitty Knight, a second-generation homebred who carries the colors of her breeder, Allaire duPont's Bohemia Stable, overcame a rough start and dominated the Heavenly Cause Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths to remain undefeated in two career outings.

Each has the potential to become Maryland's next superstar.

Bridge Out Again, whose name refers to a bridge on a farm owned by friends of Small, continues a remarkable saga that began in the mid-1980's. Small, a Maryland-based trainer then at the pinnacle of success with multiple Grade 1 winner and future leading sire Broad Brush, also had in his barn a talented filly named Daytime Princess (by Brent's Prince), owned by Sally M. Gibson. Daytime Princess won two stakes and placed in nine others, including third-place finishes in the 1986 Spinaway and Matron, both Grade 1's.

Small's stable crew often envisioned a mating between the rugged Broad Brush and the somewhat delicate Daytime Princess. And in fact Daytime Princess would give birth to Broad Brush's very first foal - the 1989 colt Sweep of Daylight, whom Small still believes "may have been the best there was." Soundness problems, and injury, kept Sweep of Daylight from fulfilling his potential, said Small, although he was three times stakes-placed, including a second in the 1991 Maryland Juvenile Championship.

Daytime Princess, having launched her broodmare career for Gibson, failed to produce a live foal in 1990 and 1991, and Gibson became discouraged. Small, encouraged by what he had seen in the mare's first foal, bought her on his own account. Although she would remain a problem breeder, Daytime Princess gave Small no cause for regret. She died in the spring of 2001 after producing four stakes horses for Small, the most recent being Bridge Out Again (by Broad Brush's Grade 1-winning son Concern). The others are Tookin Down, a 1995 Broad Brush filly who won or placed in 13 stakes, including a victory in the Grade 3 Violet Handicap, for earnings of $419,458; and stakes-placed Phyxius (a 3-year-old Broad Brush daughter) and Ay Alo (by Broad Brush's half-brother Hay Halo).

Kitty Knight's story also traces back to the mid-1980's. DuPont campaigned Kitty Knight's granddam Give a Toast (by Storm Bird) to win or place in five stakes, including a victory in the Grade 3 Beaugay Handicap, after acquiring her through the 1984 Keeneland Summer yearling sale, where she sold for $235,000. Give a Toast's dam Salud (by Raise a Cup) was a half-sister to multiple Grade 1 winner and sire Our Native.

Give a Toast did not turn out to be one of duPont's stellar producers, and was sold at the 1997 Keeneland November sale for $37,000 (in foal to Two Punch). But three of her daughters bred by duPont won more than $100,000 - stakes winner Crafty Toast ($219,128), Rum Punch ($117,900), and Let's Toast ($110,479).

Let's Toast, a 1993 daughter of Miswaki, produced as her first foal Kitty Knight (by Capote).

Kitty Knight, like many of duPont's best runners - such as her graded-winning granddam and duPont's 2001 and 2002 Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes winner Shine Again - is trained in New York by Allen Jerkens. "We couldn't be more excited about this filly," said duPont. "She is lovely, and well-mannered, and she loves to run."