07/18/2002 11:00PM

Bettina Jenney carries on husband's work


When the incomparable Pennsylvania horseman Marshall Jenney died unexpectedly in November 2000, many people assumed that his Derry Meeting Farm - the place where Storm Cat and Danzig took their first steps, and headquarters for one of the mid-Atlantic region's top sales agencies - would be consigned to history.

Far from it.

Derry Meeting, a 300-acre enclave in the heart of Unionville, Pa., horse country, has survived and thrived under the direction of Marshall Jenney's widow, Bettina. Her 27-year marriage to the man sometimes referred to as "the maestro" appears to have prepared her well for her current role.

Bettina Jenney's motivation is clear. "I love the farm and want to continue to live here," she said. "But the horses have to do it for me."

Doing her best on Derry Meeting's behalf is Run for Joy, a 6-year-old daughter of Geiger Counter and Derry Meeting's homebred mare, Joy Valentine (by Shadeed).

Although no longer owned by Derry Meeting, having been claimed for $40,000 at Penn National last January, Run for Joy is rapidly developing into a running machine for owner E & G Stables (Eric and Gregg Fral) and trainer John McCaslin.

Run for Joy has started and won once every month since February. That's six months in a row. And she gained her first stakes win, defeating statebred champion Malvern Rose in a one-length victory in the Missy Good Stakes at Penn National on July 12. From 35 lifetime starts, Run for Joy has 11 wins and 14 seconds and thirds, for earnings of $270,890.

"We are delighted she has gone on and done so well," said Jenney, who counts Joy Valentine among her own small but select group of broodmares at Derry Meeting.

Run for Joy's dam, Joy Valentine (named for the late Unionville, Pa., horsewoman) also has produced Jenney's current top performer, Miles Ahead. He is a 5-year-old Unaccounted For gelding, who competes both on the flat and over the hurdles, and who finished third in this year's Hard Scuffle Hurdle, a Grade 1 steeplechase at Churchill Downs.

Derry Meeting handled the foaling of 40 mares in 2002, many belonging to outside clients. Jenney owns about five racehorses, all in partnerships.

But the farm's major impact traditionally has been in the sales arena, and that appears likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

At the 2001 Saratoga Yearling sale (23 years after Marshall Jenney sold the immortal Danzig for $310,000), Derry Meeting marketed its all-time most expensive yearling - a $3 million Kingmambo colt, out of the Seattle Slew mare Seattle Way - for owner George Strawbridge.

That home run, in Bettina Jenney's first year at the helm, did much to bolster her self-confidence. As did the rest of the consignment. Derry Meeting sold five horses at that sale, for a total of $4.3 million, making it the fourth-leading consignor by gross and second by average (two or more sold), at $860,000.

Jenney is quick to credit to her farm crew, headed by farm manager Bob Goodyear and office manager Phyllis Holford, and advisers Reiley McDonald and James Wigan.

As to whether Team Derry Meeting will accomplish a repeat at this year's auctions, Jenney is cheerfully unwilling to predict. The farm has six yearlings, all colts, in the Saratoga catalog, and plans to send eight to Keeneland September and two to the Fasig-Tipton Eastern Fall sale.

"We have some really nice colts to sell at Saratoga," said Jenney, who is offering sons of Capote, Distant View, Kingmambo, Not For Love, Polish Numbers, and Royal Academy. "I couldn't say which one might be a star."