03/18/2005 12:00AM

Best offspring of Maria's Mon yet to come

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High Limit, a fleet son of Maria's Mon, wins the Louisiana Derby.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Pin Oak Stud stallion Maria's Mon - already the sire of one classic winner and several interesting prospects, such as Lucky Bid and Dearest Mon, this year - has his brightest classic candidate in High Limit, who won the Louisiana Derby last weekend.

A champion juvenile in his own brief racing career, Maria's Mon has proven to be a consistent source of racehorses with the quality to race two turns. From the gray stallion's first crop came Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos, whose first foals will race this year. Monarchos's first yearlings sold well last year, said Clifford Barry, general manager of Josephine Abercrombie's Pin Oak Stud.

"This year, there was already a good start for the book of mares to Maria's Mon, especially with Monarchos being so well accepted at the sales," Barry said. "And it gives people just that much more confidence that here in a short time Maria's Mon has come up with another promising 3-year-old."

Unbeaten in three starts for owners Gary and Mary West, High Limit is trained by Bobby Frankel and was bred in Kentucky by Brookfield Farm.

Unlike some major farms with dozens of foals each year, Brookfield Farm is the small breeding operation of Barry and his wife, Elizabeth.

"Ms. Abercrombie generously allows us to keep a mare here so that we can participate in that side of the business, too," Clifford Barry said.

With the success of High Limit, the owner-breeder side of the business has become a thrill for Barry and his wife, who, he said, "is getting a bigger kick out of having a Derby prospect than anyone."

"I'm involved in the horses every day here at Pin Oak," he added, "and I'm excited, too."

Barry privately purchased the Known Fact mare Known Romance when she was carrying her first foal. He was attracted to the young mare because, he said, "she's a very nicely made mare who reminded me a lot of the sire, and I was trying to kill two birds with one stone, getting a well-bred mare that I could breed on the Unbridled-Known Fact cross."

That kind of breeding has already produced the Grade 1 winner Banshee Breeze.

In addition to getting a mare he could send immediately to Maria's Mon, Barry also was planning to send his young mare to the Pin Oak racehorse Broken Vow (by Unbridled) when that horse retired. When he sold Known Romance, she was in foal to Broken Vow.

Barry, after breeding High Limit, sold the colt and his dam privately to Domino Farm. He said that High Limit "was a knockout baby, and at the time she [Known Romance] was back in foal, to Broken Vow. The people at Domino were very interested in the foal, and I didn't want to wean at three months. I got an offer I couldn't refuse, and Domino bought her off me privately."

The deal also has worked out well for Domino. Barry had selected a mare with a good family who cataloged well, and when the pedigree was backed up by an outstanding individual, Domino sold High Limit for $145,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale. It was the fifth-highest price of 53 yearlings by the sire that sold in 2003.

High Limit is the second foal of Known Romance, a daughter of the In Reality stallion Known Fact out of Spa Romance, by Saratoga Six.

Spa Romance has produced stakes winner Spartan Cat and is a half-sister to three stakes winners, including Grade 1 winner Dance Teacher and Grade 2 winner Gold Mover.

Known Romance, after producing a filly by Broken Vow in 2003, foaled a filly by Arlington Million winner Chester House in 2004, produced a colt by Maria's Mon this year, and is booked back to him.

A good-sized individual with great quality, Maria's Mon was the best son of his sire, Wavering Monarch, descending from Raise a Native through that stallion's Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Majestic Prince and his best son, Majestic Light.

A champion 2-year-old with a distance-oriented pedigree, Maria's Mon proved popular when he went to stud, and even more so when his son Monarchos started making headlines in the winter of 2001.

"He was already booked full," Barry said, "but a different level of mare has rolled through the door after that."

Since the Maria's Mon book was full in 2001, few of those elite mares made it into that book. But the stallion's mates improved much in 2002, producing foals of 2003 that are 2-year-olds this year.

As a result, both the crop of runners from the stallion's best book to date - and the first crop by his Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos - will begin racing soon.