11/14/2001 12:00AM

Champ sprinter My Juliet dead


LEXINGTON, Ky. - My Juliet, champion sprinter of 1976 and the dam of Grade 1 winners Tis Juliet and Stella Madrid, died last winter at 29, Lynn de Seroux confirmed Wednesday.

She died at Eric and Lynn de Seroux's Pleasant Retreat Farm near Paris, Ky., where she had produced her last four foals.

"She was our pet," Lynn de Seroux said. "She followed us around, and she never had a halter on. It was like losing a member of the family."

Jockey Tony Black, who rode My Juliet in 1976 and 1977, considered her one of his favorite mounts, and paid tribute to the great mare in a statement issued by Philadelphia Park Wednesday.

"She provided me with a lot of great memories that I doubt will ever be equaled," he said. "She was a great athlete - very versatile, wonderfully easy to ride, like pushing buttons. I have never ridden a sprinter better than her."

Kentucky horseman J.R. Bettersworth bred My Juliet from My Bupers, whom he bought at Keeneland's 1972 winter mixed sale carrying the filly. Bettersworth and his son, Jay, consigned My Juliet to Keeneland's 1973 fall yearling sale, where James Conway, agent, bought her for $7,500. My Juliet began her career for owner and trainer R. R. Ladd, winning three of her first four starts by a combined 13 lengths.

George Weasel Jr., purchased My Juliet privately from Ladd late in her 2-year-old season.

My Juliet's career for Weasel began with a win in Churchill's Pocahontas Stakes, and it improved from there. At 3, after finishing fourth in the Kentucky Oaks, My Juliet went on to win eight stakes, including the Grade 2 Cotillion and the Grade 3 Black-Eyed Susan. But her accomplishments were overshadowed that year by the towering talent of Ruffian, who won the 3-year-old filly championship.

My Juliet's championship season in 1976 almost ended prematurely when veterinarians detected a hairline fracture above her left ankle after she won in the Grade 3 Vagrancy Handicap in May. Her recovery progressed quickly, and she returned to competition with a string of five wins, ending at Santa Anita on New Year's Day, 1977, with a victory in the Las Flores Handicap. My Juliet also won the Ta Wee and Doylestown handicaps, then capped the 1976 season with a two-length win over eventual 3-year-old champion Bold Forbes in the Grade 2 Vosburgh.

In 1977, she beat males again in the Grade 2 Michigan Mile and One-Eighth Handicap. In the Neshaminy Handicap at Keystone, now Philadelphia Park, she set a track record of 1:14 3/5 for 6 1/2 furlongs; the record stood for 22 years.

She retired in 1977 with a record of 36-24-4-2 and earnings of $548,859.

My Juliet got off the mark quickly as a broodmare. Her first foal, a daughter of Bold Forbes named Bold Julie, was a stakes-winner. But My Juliet's best success as a broodmare came from matings with Alydar, who sired the mare's two Grade 1 winners, Stella Madrid and Tis Juliet.

My Juliet is buried where she died, at Pleasant Retreat Farm.