10/04/2017 3:06PM

Belford has three possible for Best of Ohio Endurance

Coady Photography
Strike Your Light is among three horses owned by Steve Belford nominated to the Best of Ohio Endurance.

Ohio native Steve Belford is a prominent owner and breeder in his home state and is set to showcase his operation when the Best of Ohio program is contested Saturday at Belterra Park. The operator of Ohio-based Maccabee Farm, he has three homebreds nominated for the $150,000 Best of Ohio Endurance, where reigning statebred horse of the year Mo Dont No is expected to be favored.

All three of Belford’s nominees, including stakes winner Strike Your Light, are trained by Tom Drury Jr. The Saturday card includes five stakes for Ohio-registered horses, worth a total of $750,000.

“These Ohio-breds have been a lot of fun,” said Drury, who also has trained for Claiborne Farm and who broke Eclipse Award champion Hansen as a youngster. “I’d love to have more, and Steve breeds a good horse.”

Belford’s trio of nominees is led by Strike Your Light, winner of the Green Carpet Stakes in May at Belterra and second or third in two other stakes this year. He also was an open-company allowance winner last year at Churchill Downs. The Majestic Warrior colt was most recently sixth on the turf against open stakes company in the Centaur Stakes at Indiana Grand.

The other two Maccabee colorbearers nominated are Cape Rojo and Tensweep, who both would be stepping into stakes company for the first time. Cape Rojo, by Cape Blano, has never finished worse than second in three lifetime starts. Tensweep, by Majestic Warrior, is coming off consecutive wins at Belterra.

The broodmare sire of both Strike Your Light and Cape Rojo is Hofre, whom Belford purchased for $10,000 at the 1988 Keeneland September yearling sale. He trained the horse to finish third in the Illinois Derby in a productive career, then stood him in Ohio.

Belford, whose top runners in recent years include 2016 Best of Ohio Juvenile winner Tough It Up, has farms in Ohio and Kentucky. He continues to refine his program, with more than a dozen mares foaling in Kentucky this year.

“It’s a business decision,” he said. “The restriction to have mares in Ohio by Aug. 15 [for Ohio-accredited offspring] needs to be looked at. I buy top-quality mares in foal to high-priced stallions in the October and November sales [in Kentucky] and I have a farm there. Unless I breed back to an Ohio stallion, they can’t be registered as Ohio-breds. I believe we need the quality of the breed in the state to flourish, and in a few years Ohio-breds could win from coast to coast.”

In the meantime, Belford has plenty to look forward to in coming years. His winning homebred Banjo Lady, the Hofre mare who is the dam of Strike Your Light, delivered an Alternation colt this year. She was bred back to Maclean’s Music, sire of Preakness Stakes winner Cloud Computing in his first crop.