09/26/2002 11:00PM

Daneys score with Docent


No Thoroughbred horsepeople bridge the states of Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania quite like Bernard and Arlene Daney. The Daneys live in Delaware, where Bernard is serving his second six-year term as chairman of the Thoroughbred Racing Commission, but their horses typically are foaled in Pennsylvania and raised at Elberton Hill Farm in Darlington, Md., under the care of their daughter-in-law Amy Hopkins Daney.

It all came together as never before on Maryland Million Day, Sept. 21, when the Daneys sent out their 4-year-old Pennsylvania-bred colt Docent to win the featured $200,000 Maryland Million Classic. Docent, whose sire, Waquoit, stands at Northview Stallion Station (and was one of four Northview stallions who generated a total of five winners on the 10-race card), rallied for a two-length victory as 3-2 favorite, giving the Daneys the biggest win in their more than 30 years as owners.

"The day was simply a great experience for the whole family," Bernie Daney said. "I don't know if there can ever be anything like it."

The Daneys said something along those lines last year, when Docent gave them their first Maryland Million win in one of the lesser races of the day, the $50,000 Maryland Million Sweepstakes. Little did they know that bigger things were in store for their homebred, who has won three stakes in 2002 for Tim Ritchey, the Delaware Park-based trainer celebrating his second consecutive Maryland Million Classic score. Ritchey saddled Sumerset to win the 2001 edition.

After last year's Maryland Million, Docent came back to finish fourth in the Grade 3 Discovery Handicap at Aqueduct in October. He then had a lengthy layoff, and reappeared in June, registering a close third in the Lyman Sprint Championship at Philadelphia Park, and in July and August added back-to-back victories in Philadelphia Park's Iroquois Handicap (defeating Sumerset) and the West Virginia Governor's Handicap at Mountaineer Park (over Grade 1 winner Burning Roma).

"We weren't sure Docent could get the mile and three-sixteenths of the Classic. He had never been asked to run that far before," said Daney. "But he showed he could get it in good order."

Docent (out of the Halo mare Dormir) is not the best-known horse the Daneys have campaigned. That honor goes to Parfaitement, a Pennsylvania-bred who ran in the 1983 Kentucky Derby and Preakness. They also had a brush with fame with a mare named Ramhyde, whose 1979 Halo filly, Rowdy Angel, sold by the Daneys at Saratoga for $85,000, went on to gain renown as the dam of Pine Bluff and Demons Begone, and granddam of Fusaichi Pegasus.

Docent's family has brought solid success, however, much of it in Pennsylvania-bred stakes. The Daneys bought Docent's maternal granddam, Let Me Sleep (by Cyane-Dusk, by Olden Times), at the 1976 Saratoga yearling sale for $32,000 and raced her to win or place in seven of 15 starts, earning $18,675. Let Me Sleep's value soared when her half-brother Johnny D. won an Eclipse Award as the nation's turf champion in 1977.

Two of Let Me Sleep's offspring - Fast Philly and Endormir - won stakes for the Daneys. Dormir, four times stakes-placed, produced Docent as her eighth foal. She also has to her credit Dirce (a stakes winner in Italy) and stakes-placed Ordinary Time.

Dormir is kept year-round at Bettina Jenney's Derry Meeting Farm in Cochranville, Pa. And if all goes according to plan, the journey toward future Maryland Millions will begin again next spring, when Docent's full brother or sister arrives in the Pennsylvania countryside.