10/12/2006 11:00PM

Cold War's success small consolation to breeder

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This is not your typical feel-good story about a small-time Thoroughbred breeder who made it big.

In fact, Alison Westrop is no longer involved in the industry and she has some bitter feelings about her experiences, but the British-born horsewoman has reason to be proud about her stint as a breeder.

Westrop, who lives in the small town of Lindsay, Ontario, was pleasantly surprised to learn that Cold War, one of just a handful of foals she bred, became North America's winningest horse of 2006 with his 10th win on Oct. 9 at Woodbine.

"I can't believe it," said Westrop. "It was absolutely stunning when I got a breeders' award for him in August. It was the first I heard about him since I sold him."

That breeders' prize was for Cold War's sixth win of the year, a $32,000 claiming event at Woodbine. A 5-year-old gelding, Cold War has since won four more times, including his most recent score at the $77,500 claiming level.

In addition to Cold War's exciting exploits, Westrop was pleased to hear that Sheer Enchantment had just become a stakes winner when the 5-year-old mare beat males in the Halton Stakes on Sept. 4 on the Woodbine turf.

Sheer Enchantment now has earnings in excess of $478,000, while Cold War, a 13-time winner in 47 career starts, has earnings of $251,129.

"I had no clue about any of this," said Westrop, who bred just seven registered foals before getting out of the business in 2004.

Westrop has been immersed in the world of horses since she was a young girl in England, riding point-to-point hunters and attending the races religiously with family members.

After moving to northern Ontario and buying a farm with her husband about one hour north of the famed Windfields Farm, Westrop got the itch to try and breed racehorses.

"It was something I always wanted to do," said Westrop. "I did not put a lot of money into it, but I wanted to try it while I was raising my kids."

Westrop picked up four mares in a package deal through Windfields manager Bernard McCormack, including the Cool Victor mare Russian Victory, the dam of Cold War, and Classic Fergie, a daughter of Regal Classic and eventual producer of Sheer Enchantment.

But Westrop, a mother of five, learned early that breeding horses to sell is not an easy game.

"I couldn't get my horses into any select sales, and I sold Cold War out of my field as a 3-year-old," she said. "Basically he was going off to be a track pony."

Even when Sheer Enchantment finished third in a pair of stakes races in her 2-year-old campaign, Westrop did not have any luck with her homebreds at sales in 2002 and 2003.

"It's just not a business for small breeders," said Westrop. "I didn't think I would make a lot of money at it, but I couldn't even get a bid on some of my horses. It was quite depressing, actually."

To make matters worse, during her struggles with her breeding program, two of Westrop's prized eventing horses, including a son of Vice Regent, were killed by a bear on her property.

Cold War, who was named by Westrop, was bought by trainer Wray Lawrence, and it was 15 starts before the son of War Deputy won his maiden in a $5,000 claimer at Mountaineer Race Track in November 2004.

Cold War was sold to Vern and Pat Fernandes last summer and was toiling at the $4,750 claiming level at Fort Erie as recently as this past June before his reincarnation.

Sheer Enchantment, a $10,000 yearling, is a daughter of the deceased Archers Bay, who, like War Deputy, was one of Westrop's favorite stallions.

Westrop still owns Russian Victory and Classic Fergie and is frustrated that she has tried to sell the mares through advertising but never gets any calls.

"I can honestly say I don't have any fond memories about the business," she said. "But hearing about Cold War and Sheer Enchantment makes me feel a bit better.

"It means that I wasn't wrong, I had nicks that worked. I only ever wanted to breed a good horse who was healthy."

And Westrop can find comfort in knowing that she did just that.