07/26/2001 12:00AM

Colt's breeders revel in track-record win


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Mayakovsky's track-record win in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race at Saratoga Wednesday took the colt's breeders by surprise.

Breeder R.C. Van Vorhees and his partner Liz Steinbach, who live on their 35-acre Van Ann Farm in Ocala, Fla., had been looking out for the 2-year-old Matty G colt, who is out of their broodmare Joy to Raise. What they didn't realize was that after they sold him for $10,000 as a weanling in 1999, the colt was renamed. They had been scanning the entries for a horse named Matty's Man. It wasn't until a friend at nearby Ocala Stud Farms called to congratulate them, that they realized Mayakovsky was their former weanling. And he had just trimmed Saratoga's 55-year-old track record for 5 1/2 furlongs, winning in 1:03.32. The previous mark was 1:03.40, set by Tea Olive in 1946.

Vorhees, a retired Eastern Airlines pilot, and Steinbach, a realtor, have been in the horse business for nearly two decades, and have operated Van Ann for about 11 years. They know that success can be fleeting, but Mayakovsky's promising debut makes them hopeful that he might become Joy to Raise's first stakes-winner.

The 18-year-old Raise a Man mare, now in foal to Slew Gin Fizz after a barren year in 2000, is one of six mares at Van Ann, which also is home to a small herd of cattle. Vorhees considers the mare to be quite a bargain. He purchased her privately in 1991 from Ocala's Warnerton Farm for $8,500 after she failed to sell at auction. Since then, she has recouped her price several times in sales returns for her weanlings, and a stakes-winner could give her future foals a big boost at auction.

"We were really trying to breed a great sprinter," said Steinbach, who planned the mating of small, well-muscled Joy to Raise with Matty G, a Grade 1 winner at 1 1/16 miles. "We felt that there was the possibility of getting a good, hard-hitting, six-furlong-to-a-mile runner.

"We didn't even know who the owner was until Wednesday," Steinbach added, explaining that, after Van Ann sold Mayakovsky, the buyer, pinhookers Eisaman Equine, sold him as a 2-year-old for $210,000. Robert Scanlon signed the ticket as agent. When Mayakovsky crossed the finish line in his first start at Saratoga Wednesday, he was carrying the colors of one of the sport's wealthiest owners, Michael Tabor.

"Wow, that was some news," Steinbach said. "It's very exciting that people in that category know you can come to Ocala and get a good horse."

Mayakovsky wasn't the only advertisement for Ocala's auction house, the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company. Two other Florida-bred OBS graduates, Thunderello and Just Flight, rounded out the top three in Mayakovsky's race.

Mayakovsky was the farm's lowest-seller, when he went to the OBS October mixed sale in 1999.

"We were disappointed he brought our average down," Vorhees laughed.

In the meantime, though, he has brought their hopes up. If the colt runs again at Saratoga, Vorhees said, they'll at least be aware of it, now that they know his new name.

Green Valley II dead at 34

Broodmare Green Valley II (Fr), dam of the late sire of champions Green Dancer, died at France's Haras de Saint-Leonard on July 22, according to a Thoroughbred Times report. She was 34.

Green Valley, an unraced daughter of Val de Loir, also produced graded/group stakes-winners Val Danseur and Ercolano; stakes-winners Soviet Lad, Pink Valley, and Sir Raleigh; and stakes-placed Green Mount and Goldmine. Green Dancer, the first of 15 foals for Green Valley, died last year at the age of 29.

* Florida stallions Outflanker and Way West (Fr) have relocated from Ocala's Sez Who Thoroughbreds to Cloverleaf Farm in nearby Reddick, Fla.