11/26/2003 1:00AM

Broodmare of the Year looks a lock


LAS VEGAS - The highest honor for a mare is Broodmare of the Year. The award is sometimes given to a broodmare who produced only one Thoroughbred of merit, such as Maid of Flight, who was bestowed the honor in 1964 for her son Kelso, five-time Horse of the Year (1960 through 1964).

But the honor is usually awarded to a broodmare who achieved extraordinary success through many of her offspring. Somethingroyal won the honor in 1973, the year that her son Secretariat swept the Triple Crown. Secretariat was the crowing achievement for Somethingroyal, who had previously produced major stakes winners Sir Gaylord and Syrian Sea, as well as First Family.

Glowing Tribute was Broodmare of the Year in 1993, the year Sea Hero won the Kentucky Derby, but he was the culmination of an exemplary record of her years in the breeding shed. In addition to Sea Hero, Glowing Tribute produced seven stakes winners, including Glowing Honor, Hero's Honor, Wild Applause, Coronation Cup, Mackie, and Seattle Glow. This exceptional kind of class transcends generations - two daughters of Glowing Tribute, Wild Applause and Mackie, produced stakes winners. Wild Applause is certainly worthy of being a Broodmare of the Year, as she has produced four major stakes winners: Blare of Trumpets, Eastern Echo, Roar, and Yell. Mackie is the dam of Mr. Mellon. Even an unraced daughter of Glowing Tribute, Victoria Cross, is the dam of two stakes winners (Mozart, champion 3-year-old in England and Ireland, and England Expects).

But there have been grievous oversights. How could a mare like Aspidistra not be on this list? Aspidistra should have been a shoo-in if only for her multiple champion and Horse of the Year son, Dr. Fager, in 1968. But Aspidistra produced three other stakes winners, including Ta Wee, champion sprinter in both 1969 and 1970. Champion Unbridled traces to Magic, an unraced daughter of Aspidistra.

Rough Shod II would be at or near the top of anyone's list of great broodmares, but she was never Broodmare of the Year. Bred to Nantallah, Rough Shod II produced three stakes-winning siblings - Ridan, Lt. Stevens, and a co-Horse of the Year, Moccasin - as well as stakes winner Gambetta (the dam of champion Gamely and granddam of champion Drumtop).

Moccasin, an undefeated champion 2-year-old filly, continued the legacy of class, producing six stakes winners, including two European champions, Apalachee and Belted Earl.

But Rough Shod's most important foal was stakes-placed Thong, a full sister to Moccasin, Ridan, and Lt. Stevens. Thong produced four stakes winners (including a dual European champion, Thatch, as well as King Pellinore, Lisadell, and Espadrille), and also produced Special, who deserves a separate wing in the Broodmare Hall of Fame.

Special, a full sister to Thatch and Lisadell, was not a stakes winner, but her influence as a broodmare was profound. She produced Nureyev, the champion racehorse and stallion, as well as Fairy Bridge, a champion at 2 in Ireland who is the dam of Sadler's Wells, the world's leading sire of stakes winners.

Misty Morn, the champion 3-year-old filly of 1955, was the 1963 Broodmare of the Year on the basis of the heroics of three stakes winners, Bold Consort, Beautiful Day, and Sunrise Flight. It wasn't until the following year, however, that the best of her offspring came to the races, when Bold Lad was champion 2-year-old. In 1966, 2-year-old champion Successor became Misty Morn's fifth stakes winner.

As good as Misty Morn was as a broodmare, she still fell short of emulating her dam, Grey Flight, who produced nine stakes winners. Dozens upon dozens of prominent stakes winners descend from Grey Flight, including champions Inside Information and Kona Gold, but Grey Flight was never named Broodmare of the Year.

While Empire Maker is in a real dogfight to win the Eclipse Award for champion 3-year-old colt, the Broodmare of the Year is a slam-dunk.

Because of Empire Maker, his dam, 14-year-old Toussaud, is 1-9 to win Broodmare of the Year. Along with Dahlia and Fall Aspen, Toussaud is only the third dam in history to produce four Grade 1 stakes winners. A Grade 1 stakes winner in the United States and Group 3 winner in Europe, Toussaud is also the dam of a Grade 2 stakes winner.

Toussaud has six foals of racing age, and despite being bred to a different stallion each time, she has produced high-quality individuals. In addition to Empire Maker (Unbridled), Toussaud's other stakes winners include the late Chester House (Mr. Prospector), Honest Lady (Seattle Slew), Decarchy (Distant View), and Chiselling (Woodman).

Toussaud has a yearling filly by Seeking the Gold and a weanling filly by Kingmambo, and was bred to A.P. Indy earlier this year.

It's hard to look beyond Toussaud, but in any other year, Prospectors Delite and Viviana would be very worthy choices as Broodmare of the Year.

Prospectors Delite, who died at age 12 in 2001, produced four stakes winners (Tomisue's Delight, Delta Music, Monashee Mountain, and Rock Slide) before Mineshaft developed into this year's best older horse as well as the likely Horse of the Year. Prospectors Delite was perfect as a broodmare, producing five stakes winners from only five foals, but she is likely to be added to the long list of great broodmares who never received an award.

Viviana, 13, has also been a special broodmare, and three of her offspring are stakes winners this year: 5-year-old Tates Creek (Rahy) and 4-year-old Sightseek (Distant View) are multiple Grade 1 winners. Three-year-old Special Rate (Pulpit) became her third stakes winner when he won the Bien Bien Stakes, his first effort on turf. Viviana has an unraced 2-year-old full brother to Sightseek named Viziership, a yearling full sister to Sightseek, and a weanling full brother to Tates Creek.