02/08/2002 12:00AM

Bayard's success a long time coming

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To say that Samuel Bayard bided his time before getting into the horse business would be an understatement. Since the early 1960's, Bayard had savored the good times and suffered through the bad whenever any of the numerous accomplished runners of his parents, James and Nancy Bayard, took to the track.

But it was not until after his mother's death last summer that Samuel Bayard, the youngest of five children, became an owner in his own right.

Now Bayard, the owner of a leasing company, Rockford Leasing, in Wilmington, Del., has five horses of racing age, three of them purchased from his mother's estate. And one of them - the 3-year-old filly Bronze Abe - is giving him the kind of initiation that the dream of all first-time owners.

Bronze Abe (by Two Punch) got her second career stakes win when she drove to a 2 3/4-length victory in the Jameela Stakes for Maryland-breds on Feb. 2 at Laurel Park.

There was an unexpected twist of fate involved. The heavily favored Touch Love, Maryland's undefeated 2-year-old filly star making her first start since her victory in the Grade 2 Schuylerville Stakes last July, stumbled and unseated rider Ramon Dominguez near the start of the Jameela, thus removing herself from official competition. Touch Love, carrying on without her pilot, led the field, reins dangling, and actually crossed the wire first. Fortunately, she appeared to come through her "race" without ill effects.

Bronze Abe, dispatched as second favorite, took full advantage of the situation, and proved clearly the best of the other four starters. Bayard's filly has finished on the board in her last four outings, all Maryland-bred or Maryland-sired stakes. She won the Nov. 17 Heavenly Cause Stakes, dead-heated for second in the Maryland Million Lassie (Oct. 13), and was third in the Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship, won by True Sensation, on Dec. 29. In 10 career starts, Bronze Abe has never finished worse than third (although she was disqualified to sixth in her first try, a maiden special weight race at Delaware Park last May). She has to her credit four wins and five placings, and earnings of $149,290.

The Bayard racing and breeding operation dates back to 1946, and has been composed almost exclusively of Maryland-breds. James Bayard, a Wilmington, attorney, died in 1984, but the operation continued in full force with Nancy Bayard, who gained national recognition in 1994 when her homebred Calipha captured three consecutive stakes, including the filly counterpart to the Preakness, the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. Nancy Bayard was named the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association's Owner of the Month in June 1994.

Bronze Abe is a granddaughter of the Bayards' foundation mare, Rolling Mill (by Hagley). Purchased for $35,000 at the 1978 Timonium fall yearling sale by their longtime trainer Grover G. (Bud) Delp - who trains Bronze Abe - Rolling Mill carried the Bayards silks to victories in six stakes, earning $147,548.

Rolling Mill became the dam of five stakes horses, with the most notable including Eagle Mill, who earned $216,380 and ran second in the Devil's Bag Stakes and third in the Maryland Juvenile Championship Stakes, and My Mafalda, who earned $103,321 while placing in two stakes, including the Maryland Million Oaks, and went on to produce stakes winner Take Heed ($370,753) and stakes-placed Centurion.

Rolling Mill's daughter Buckles and Kinks (by Waquoit), who produced Bronze Abe as her first foal, was runner-up in two Maryland Million races, the 1996 Lassie and 1997 Oaks, and retired with earnings of $106,883, having won or placed in 14 of her 19 starts.

Samuel Bayard will not have an opportunity to breed more foals from Buckles and Kinks, who sold for $90,000 in the Bayard dispersal at the 2001 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic December mixed sale. But spurred on by his success with Bronze Abe, he says he is considering becoming involved in the breeding business, and possibly purchasing a farm.