06/07/2006 12:00AM

Barn fire kills Favorite Trick, Saratoga Six


Former Horse of the Year Favorite Trick and Grade 1 winner Saratoga Six were among six Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse stallions killed Tuesday night in a barn fire at the JEH Stallion Station in Hondo, N.M., according to a farm employee and Paul Jones, a shareholder in Favorite Trick.

Favorite Trick was 11. Saratoga Six was 24.

The blaze, which injured no humans, also killed the Thoroughbred stallion Gone Hollywood and Quarter Horses The Down Side, winner of the Grade 1 Champion of Champions Stakes in 2003; Fredericksburg, 2005 champion aged stallion; and Southern Cartel, winner of the 2003 Ruidoso and Lazy E derbies.

Those six stallions made up the entire stallion roster at JEH Stallion Station's New Mexico division. The farm, owned by Jim and Marilyn Helzer and R.D. Hubbard, also has a division in Texas.

Officials investigating the New Mexico blaze on Wednesday morning expected the investigation to take several days, a farm employee said. None of the farm's mares, foals, or yearlings were injured. The farm's night watchman discovered the fire at about 9 p.m. on Tuesday.

"They're not sure how the fire started," said Jones, also the trainer of The Down Side. "We haven't gotten any real answers."

Jones said he rushed to the farm Tuesday night after hearing about the fire.

Favorite Trick was the 1997 juvenile champion and Horse of the Year, becoming the first colt to take both honors in the same season since Secretariat in 1972. Undefeated in his eight starts that year, he clinched the titles with a decisive 5 1/2-length win over Dawson's Legacy in the 1997 Breeders' Cup Juvenile. His other graded victories that year came in the Grade 1 Hopeful, Grade 2 Breeders' Futurity, Grade 2 Saratoga Special, and Grade 3 Bashford Manor.

The Phone Trick-Evil Elaine colt came back to race at 3, winning the Grade 2 Keeneland Breeders' Cup Mile, Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes, Grade 3 Swale Stakes, and the Long Branch Breeders' Cup Stakes.

Bred in Kentucky by Mr. and Mrs. M.L. Wood, Favorite Trick raced for the Joseph Lacombe Stable in the care of trainer Pat Byrne and, later, Bill Mott.

"Favorite Trick was certainly a once-in-a-lifetime horse," said Byrne, who bought Favorite Trick for $100,000 on Lacombe's behalf at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s select 2-year-old sale. "He was so easy on himself, and he was an easy horse to train. He was a very laid-back 2-year-old and a very smart horse, even at a young age. I think one of the reasons he was so successful was because he was so relaxed. He was wonderful to be around and a pet in the barn."

Favorite Trick began his stud career at Walmac in Lexington, Ky., before moving to CloverLeaf Farms II in Florida. He relocated to JEH Stallion Station last summer and was standing his first season there. His best runners to date are Datrick, winner of the recent Kentucky Breeders' Cup Stakes, and two-time stakes winner Yucatan. He has more than $8.4 million in progeny earnings.

Saratoga Six, a son of Alydar and the Irish Castle mare Priceless Fame, won the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity, Grade 2 Hollywood Juvenile Championship, and Grade 3 Balboa Stakes in 1984. He sired Grade 1 winner Toga Toga Toga.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen