08/23/2001 11:00PM

Buy Judge T C, get his winners free!

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Luck has smiled on Tom Reigle, once again. As the proprietor of 105-acre Reigle Heir Farm in Grantville, Pa., Reigle has acquired over several years a handful of young stallions whose careers were going nowhere while they stood in Kentucky. No sooner do the stallions step off the van at Reigle's farm, it seems, than their offspring take off running.

It's already happened with Judge T C, Reigle's latest acquisition, who moved up from Airdrie Farm in July in anticipation of the 2002 breeding season. Judge T C is a multiple stakes-winning son of Judge Smells, who had a brief but very successful career in Pennsylvania before falling ill with laminitis and being euthanized in May 2000. So, Judge T C figured to appeal to local breeders.

Judge T C's credentials have grown immeasurably in recent weeks, however, with a spate of new winners, including Request for Parole, who won the Ellis Park Juvenile Stakes on Aug. 18, defeating Grade 2 Sanford Stakes hero Buster's Daydream. As of Aug. 23, Judge T C ranked as the sixth-leading 2-year-old sire in the country, ahead of superstars Storm Cat, End Sweep, and A.P. Indy.

"We hadn't even started to tell people he's here," said Tom Reigle. "We were waiting until a little closer to the breeding season - but now I guess it's time."

Like Request for Parole, Judge T C (out of the Secretariat mare I'm Pretty) first made headlines by winning the Ellis Park Juvenile. He went on to defeat Alphabet Soup, Concern, and Thunder Gulch while winning seven stakes and placing in four others during a career that encompassed 28 starts from ages 2 to 5. He earned $826,826.

Judge T C's first crop are now 3-year-olds, and he ranks eighth nationally among second-crop sires, with 2001 progeny earnings of $1,156,022. Owned by Robert and Bea Roberts, Judge T C will stand next year for a $2,500 live foal fee ($2,000 for mares foaling in Pennsylvania).

Timing has been Tom Reigle's forte in the horse business. He was selling advertising for the local newspaper when Penn National race track was built, practically in his backyard, in the early 1970's. Reigle took advantage of the opportunity and developed a full-service Thoroughbred facility, boarding layups as well as breeding and raising young stock. His operation has prospered over the years.

Bringing in young stallions from Kentucky is also a matter of timing, and filling a niche within the Pennsylvania industry, as Reigle explained it: "It's a lot easier to promote stallions whose foals are already running," he said. "With 70-plus stallions in Pennsylvania, and only 400 to 500 mares being bred to those stallions, the horses who have already proven they can sire runners are going to attract the bulk of those mares."

That plan worked superbly with Roanoke, who arrived at Reigle Heir in 1997, the year his son Dawson's Legacy was named champion 2-year-old in Canada. It panned out with Patton, who was added to the Reigle Heir stallion roster in 2001. Patton's results from his first crop - 13 winners among his two-year-olds of 2000 - outdistanced all other freshman sires standing in the Mid-Atlantic region in 2001.

Roanoke (by Pleasant Colony) was bred to 50 mares this year, and has covered a total of 205 mares during the past four seasons, Reigle reported. Patton (by Lord At War-Arg) was bred to 46 mares in 2001, and Reigle Heir's other active stallion, De Niro, had 54 mares.

De Niro, a Pennsylvania-bred son of Gulch and the champion mare Waya, has strong local ties along with a top-class pedigree. With three crops on the track, he also ranks among Pennsylvania's leading sires.