04/25/2003 12:00AM

Clap Happy, pride of family operation


David Moose runs a landscaping business in Baltimore County, Md., but he also has a keen eye for a horse. How else do you explain what's happened with Moose's 11-year-old mare Clap Happy (by Greinton), who now is the dam of four stakes horses from five foals of racing age?

Moose bought Clap Happy for $3,700 at the 1995 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic February mixed sale. It was her pedigree that caught Moose's attention. Like many longtime race followers in Maryland, Moose has fond memories of Clap Happy's dam, Applause (by Shecky Greene), who ranked among the top race mares in the Mid-Atlantic region during the mid-1980's.

An unraced 3-year-old when Moose bought her, Clap Happy was listed in the catalog as a racing prospect. But a racemare was not what Moose had in mind.

"I shipped her to Kentucky immediately and had her bred [to Northern Prospect]," Moose recalled.

The following year Clap Happy produced a colt whom Moose sold as a weanling for $2,700 at the Keeneland November sale. Named Echo Canyon, Clap Happy's first foal was placed third in the 1999 Alysheba Breeders' Cup Stakes and earned $148,546.

It has only gotten better since then, and the pattern hasn't varied. All of Clap Happy's stakes performers are colts or geldings, by different sires. Moose, his wife, Cindy, and mother, Audrey, have handled the foaling and raising of the horses at the family's 25-acre Finale Farm in Boring, Md., before selling each of them as a weanling.

Clap Happy's newest star is Love Happy, a 5-year-old horse by Not for Love who sprinted into the ranks of stakes winners on April 12, capturing Pimlico's Fire Plug Stakes by a neck in 1:09.76, missing the six-furlong track record by .60. It was Love Happy's fifth victory in a row; he is undefeated since last December, when trainer Howard Wolfendale claimed him on behalf of owner Edward Turner for $30,000 at Laurel Park. Moose sold Love Happy at the 1998 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic December Mixed sale for $35,000. In 30 career starts, he has earned $298,060.

Clap Happy was well represented earlier this year when Crossing Point, her 6-year-old son by Allen's Prospect, won Aqueduct's Jan. 25 Paumonok Handicap. That victory was overturned on a medication violation. Still, Crossing Point has stakes credentials, having finished second in last year's Grade 3 Fall Highweight Handicap. He also set a 5 1/2-furlong track record at Laurel. Crossing Point, sold at the 1997 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic December mixed sale, has earned over $200,000.

Clap Happy's youngest standout is My Boy Kyle (by Pembroke), a $15,000 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic December mixed sales weanling who won the Chenery Stakes and finished second in the Continental Mile last season at 2. My Boy Kyle boasted juvenile earnings of $62,727.

And there could be more good things to come. Moose reached new auction heights at last December's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale, selling Clap Happy's Two Punch filly for $50,000. Clap Happy has a Not for Love colt at her side and was bred in April to Fourstardave.

"She's a short-backed little mare, a little bit like a pony," said Moose, who has been as surprised as anyone by Clap Happy's prowess as a broodmare.

Breeding stakes performers is nothing new for the Mooses, whose horse operation was started 32 years ago by David Moose's late father, Dwight Moose. Theirs is strictly a family business, with about six broodmares, and its standouts have included Maryland-bred steeplechase champion Circuit Bar. Still, none of the Moose horses has altered the landscape in quite the same way as Clap Happy.