11/13/2009 12:00AM

Cup day a cause for home state to celebrate

Justin N. Lane
California Flag, Joe Talamo up, wins the BC Turf Sprint, adding to his dam's honored status.

ARCADIA, Calif. - It took 10 months and a week before the California breeding industry had something to brag about in 2009. Once it started, the success could hardly stop.

Until Nov. 7, no California-bred had won a seven-figure race or a Grade 1 this year. Both of those milestones were accomplished in consecutive races when California Flag won the $1 million Breeders' Turf Sprint and Dancing in Silks won the Grade 1 BC Sprint at Santa Anita.

Adding to the occasion, the California-bred The Usual Q.T. won his graded stakes debut in the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby in the day's final race.

The issues that concern California Thoroughbred breeding are still prevalent - the high costs of operating farms, a huge drop in the number of breeders, and shrinking purses - but at least Nov. 7 provided proof that California can produce runners capable of succeeding on the world's largest stage.

Two hours before Zenyatta's historic win, California breeders were smiling in honor of Keith Card, the breeder and owner California Flag.

Card, 82, has battled the effects of a stroke in recent years, but still enjoys his racing as much as ever.

"It's awesome," Card said in the postrace interview. "I'm humbled by the experience, really am."

John and Diane Fradkin had a unique perspective into California Flag's win. They own the dam, Ultrafleet, who was leased to Card the year that she produced California Flag. Ultrafleet was named California's broodmare of the year earlier this year.

"It's great for Keith," John Fradkin said. "I think he couldn't be happier, capping his life in the horse business. He was smiling and he was happy. I think he did just fine."

California Flag is by Avenue of Flags. Ultrafleet was sent to Kentucky a few years ago and is in foal to Bernardini. She is the dam of a yearling Vindication colt owned by Fradkin who is based at Card's California ranch. The Vindication colt was listed as not sold for $47,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale, but Fradkin has not ruled out placing the colt in a 2-year-olds in training sale next year.

Of course, the colt's value is higher now than it was last week. The Turf Sprint produced a few anxious moments for Fradkin, who bred California Flag's older sister Cambiocorsa, the winner of 9 of 18 starts, five stakes on the hillside turf course, and $522,055.

"It was great," Fradkin said. "I was a little worried before the race. I was worried about the other speed causing a problem. After the first quarter mile when Canadian Ballet let [California Flag] go, I felt pretty good. I thought, he's leading by two or three and he'll be tough to beat. When he crossed the dirt and opened up a little, like he and his sister often do, I thought he'd win pretty easy."

Dancing in Silks is by Black Minnaloushe out of Lemhi Love, a Royal and Regal mare. Bred by Ron Jex and owned by Ken Kinakin, Dancing in Silks is the second stakes winner produced by Lemhi Love, a foal of 1983. A multiple stakes winner in the Midwest who earned $265,723, Lemhi Love produced Gins Majesty, the winner of two stakes and $210,431 on the East Coast.

Kinakin paid $21,401 for Dancing in Silks as a yearling at the 2006 Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society summer mixed sale in British Columbia.

It cost him $180,000 to supplement the 4-year-old gelding to the BC Sprint, which was the horse's second consecutive stakes win. Trained by Carla Gaines, Dancing in Silks won the California Cup Sprint in early October.

"I just believed in the horse and believe in Carla's training," Kinakin said.

Gaines said she tried to talk him out of the high supplement.

"I was concerned about him dumping all that money in there," she said. "He said, 'No, Carla, the power of positive thinking. Let's go.' "