03/24/2006 12:00AM

Celestial Legend showed as well as she ran

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The rich get richer among horses that compete in the Maryland Horse Breeders Association Yearling Show.

Every year, the eight top-earning 2- and 3-year-olds who participated in the show (which is exclusively for Maryland-breds) divide a total of $40,000 in premiums.

Understandably popular since it was instituted for the 1983 edition of the show, the program is supported by the Maryland-bred Fund, which currently provides $20,000 for each age category. The awards (divided on a percentage basis of 65-20-10-5, according to earnings) go to the owner of the horse at the time of the show. The horses are judged at the show on their appearance as prospective racehorses.

Horses earning premiums for the 2005 racing season are a distinguished group, including two Maryland-bred champions.

Topping the 2-year-old division, for horses exhibited at the 2004 yearling show and judged by trainer Jonathan Sheppard, is Celestial Legend, who earned $99,360 as a juvenile while going undefeated with victories in the Holly and Toddler stakes. A chestnut daughter of City Zip out of the Polish Numbers mare Lunar's Legend, Celestial Legend was the champion Maryland-bred juvenile filly of 2005.

Shown back in 2004 by her breeders, William T. Fitzgibbons Sr. and David Wade, Celestial Legend won third place among 24 entries in her class, for fillies by out-of-state sires. Fitzgibbons is a longtime Maryland owner-breeder, and Wade is the manager of Richard Golden's Sycamore Hall Farm in Chesapeake City, Md. Only a few weeks after the show, Fitzgibbons and Wade sold Celestial Legend for $45,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale.

Placings at the show have no bearing on the premium awards, which are given out strictly based on earnings on the track. Many of the highest-earning horses of past years were unplaced in the show. However, five of the eight premium winners for 2005 were among top selections when they were shown.

The highest-earning 3-year-old of 2005, Thatswhatimean, also won her class at the 2003 show, judged by trainer Barclay Tagg.

Thatswhatimean, a dark bay/brown filly by Belong to Me, defeated 13 rivals at the show and last year earned $136,325 with five stakes wins or placings in California, including a win in the China Doll Stakes and a second in the Grade 2 Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap. Thatswhatimean, a half-sister to 2003 3-year-old star Atswhatimtalknbout, out of the Red Ransom mare Lucinda K, was exhibited at the show by Pat Konka and Maureen Johnson's Bittersweet Farm of Westminster, Md., which sold her for $375,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale.

The results for 2005 continued a remarkable record of success for Hal and Jeanne Begg Clagett, who between them have won the top premium at five earlier shows. The Clagetts collected premiums from both the 2003 and 2004 shows.

Other premium award winners, with their 2005 earnings and names of exhibitors, are:

Three-year-old division: Declan's Moon (Malibu Moon-Vee Vee Star, by Norquestor), Maryland-bred champion 3-year-old male, $120,000, won Grade 2 Santa Catalina Stakes in only start at 3, Spring Meadow Farm, placed first in his class; Lucrezia (Louis Quatorze-Manderley's Baby, by Northern Baby), $97,380, second in Martha Washington Breeders' Cup and All Brandy Stakes, Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Merryman, placed fourth in her class; Gold Casing (Amerrico's Bullet-Secret Snow, by Clever Secret), $84,790, winner of the Northern Dancer Stakes, Hal C.B. and Jeanne F. Clagett.

Two-year-old division: Rainbow Inthestorm (Storm Boot-Citirainbow, by Citidancer), $69,793, Costas N. Triantafilos; Who Was (Allen's Prospect-Smart Tally, by Smarten), $58,080, second in the Maryland Million Lassie Stakes, Huckleberry Farm LLC, placed fifth in class; Sound Moon (Malibu Moon-Sound Ambition, by Compelling Sound), $52,423, winner of the Tri-State Futurity, Hal C.B. and Jeanne F. Clagett.

This year's MHBA Yearling Show will take place June 21 at the Timonium Fairgrounds. The judge will be announced by the end of April. For more information, contact the Maryland Horse Breeders Association at (410) 252-2100.