08/24/2007 12:00AM

Breeders go full circle with win

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When P V Lightening crossed the wire two lengths in front in the Humphrey S. Finney Stakes on Aug. 18 at Laurel, he completed a satisfying journey for his breeders, Michael and Patricia Sutherland.

P V Lightening's dam, McKilts (by Deputed Testamony), was the first stakes winner to represent the Sutherlands' 77-acre North Highland Farm in Barnesville, Md.

After campaigning her to win the Smart Angle Stakes at 2, the Sutherlands privately sold McKilts in the fall of her 3-year-old season, three days before her victory in the 1990 Maryland Million Oaks.

McKilts, who later placed in graded company, retired with 10 wins or placings and earnings of $260,968.

The Sutherlands kept themselves informed of McKilts's travels throughout the years. After launching her broodmare career, McKilts was sold at Keeneland auctions on four different occasions. She produced seven foals. Of her five foals to race, all were winners and one was a minor stakes winner, but there were no standouts among her offspring.

Finally, in early 2002, when McKilts was 15 years old, the Sutherlands bought her privately from a breeder in Canada and brought her back home.

McKilts produced only one named foal for the Sutherlands: P V Lightening, a 3-year-old gelding by Sultry Song. In his brief career, P V Lightening has become his dam's only black-type performer.

Racing in the name of Michael Sutherland and partners Dave Chappell and Bill Pershin, and trained by Gary Capuano, P V Lightening was making his sixth start when he scored a victory against eight Maryland-bred rivals in the Finney and paid $17.80 for the win. He completed the 1 1/8 miles over firm turf in a course-record time of 1:47.12.

It was the second win for P V Lightening, who had not finished in the money since scoring in his debut, a six-furlong maiden special weight at Pimlico last April. His earnings now total $51,264.

McKilts died in early 2005 after aborting a foal by Eastern Echo. But the Sutherlands still have two of her half-sisters in their five-member broodmare band.

McKilts and her siblings were bred from the mare Merle Halton (by Rattle Dancer), whom the Sutherlands bought at auction in Ontario in 1984 for the U.S. equivalent of $20,490. The Sutherlands were just getting started in the business at the time, and Merle Halton was one of their first broodmare purchases.

Merle Halton's daughter Sugarloaf (1997, Regal Intention) is the dam of the only other horse the Sutherlands are racing - Homesteader, a 4-year-old Pioneering filly. Also trained by Capuano, Homesteader has won or placed in 15 of her 22 starts, for earnings of $220,034. She has four stakes placings, most recently in the HBPA West Virginia Stakes on Aug. 5 at Charles Town.

In winning the Finney, P V Lightening defeated two other horses from noteworthy families of Maryland-breds.

The runner-up, Robert E. Meyerhoff's Fitzhugh LLC homebred Encaustic, is a full brother to Grade 1-winning millionaire and 2001 Maryland-bred horse of the year Include, as well as to four other stakes performers, all sired by Meyerhoff's Grade 1 winner and leading sire Broad Brush. Encaustic was the 8-5 favorite.

Third-place finisher Tiger Rag (by Jazz Club) is owned and bred by the Sutherlands's neighbor, Carey K. Miller. Tiger Rag is the fourth foal and first stakes performer from Miller's good stakes winner Holiday Ball (by Black Tie Affair), whose dam, Angelina County (by Rollicking), was Miller's all-time star performer. Angelina County, a multiple stakes winner of $340,857, was champion Maryland-bred 3-year-old filly in 1987.