08/22/2008 12:00AM

Claim pays off years later for Capuano


There's more than one way to play the claiming game, as trainer Dale Capuano demonstrates.

In May 2001, Capuano claimed a good-looking, well-bred Marquetry filly for $25,000. Bred by Howard and Sondra Bender's Glade Valley Farms, the 3-year-old filly, named Lux Marquet, was making her first career start in a maiden race at Pimlico. She never raced again.

But last weekend at Laurel, Capuano sent out Lux Marquet's 3-year-old son Seeyouinthecity (by Slew City Slew) to win the $50,000 Humphrey S. Finney Stakes at Laurel Park.

Bred and owned by See You Stable, a partnership of Capuano and Columbia, Md.-based attorney Lou Ulman, Seeyouinthecity delivered a breakout performance in the Finney, setting every fraction on his way to 1 1/2-length victory under jockey Malcolm Franklin in the 1 1/8-mile turf race for Maryland-bred 3-year-olds.

Now a winner in 3 of his 6 career starts and undefeated in two outings this year, Seeyouinthecity has inspired Capuano to consider running him back in Delaware Park's Grade 3, $500,000 Kent Stakes on Saturday.

Lux Marquet's potential as a broodmare was apparent all along. Out of the Buckpasser mare Luxurious Gal, she is a half-sister to three stakes horses, including the multiple-stakes-winning Majestic Light gelding Major Lux, who starred in an off-the-turf edition of the Finney in 1990.

"Once in a while, I take a shot," said Capuano, of his track record in finding prospective broodmares at the claim box.

Lux Marquet took time to prove her worth, however. Her first two foals have never made it to the winner's circle. Capuano and Ulman raced her 2003 Prized gelding, Seeyouwinaprize. They sold her Millennium Wind daughter, D'Lux Wind, for $13,000 at the 2005 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale.

Then in 2006, Lux Marquet's situation became more complicated. She developed blood incompatibility problems that caused a life-threatening illness for her Rock Slide colt born that year.

Capuano and Ulman went to considerable expense to save the colt, Tough As Rocky, now a 2-year-old in Capuano's stable who is winless in three starts.

Not wanting to invest any more money in the mare, they gave her away in December 2006.

Lux Marquet had been living as a year-round boarder at Jerry and Laurie Calhoun's Summer Wind Farm in Libertytown, Md.

Laurie Calhoun, who has placed many horses for adoption, found Lux Marquet a new home at Hedgeland Farm in Leesburg, Va.

"The farm has been involved with show horses and is just getting into racing in a small way," Calhoun said.

More important, Hedgeland is co-owned by an equine veterinarian, Dr. Vito DelVento, who was not put off by Lux Marquet's health issues.

Lux Marquet delivered a healthy Domestic Dispute filly last March, bred by DelVento and his Hedgeland partner Kelly Hawkins.

Until Calhoun called them, DelVento and Hawkins were unaware they had a stakes producer in their barn.

"They were very happy," Calhoun said.

Capuano, meanwhile, is out of the breeding business, at least for now.

"If I had one I liked, I'd probably keep her," he said. "But I can go to the sales and buy horses cheaper than their stud fees."

Capuano added that he may reconsider his approach if Maryland's slots referendum is approved by voters on Nov. 4 and the state's breeding industry rebounds.

Maryland Million pre-entry books available

Maryland Million and Maryland-bred Fund races will make up the entire stakes schedule at Laurel Park this fall.

A total of 23 stakes, worth $2.23 million, will be offered for eligible runners bred and/or sired in Maryland.

Maryland Million Day, which will have its 23rd running Oct. 4 at Laurel, consists of 12 races worth nearly $1.7 million in purses.

Maryland Million pre-entry books are now available. The nomination deadline is Sept. 25.

For more information, call the Maryland Million/Maryland Horse Breeders Association office at (410) 252-2100 or visit www.marylandthoroughbred.com.