11/20/2003 12:00AM

De Francis victor a career high for his sire


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Perhaps the winner of this year's Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park will cause some platitudes to be reformed. For instance, "To win a Grade 1, you have to break some eggs, or at least some huevos" would be appropriate.

Apparently, however, A Huevo wasn't named for eggs. The colloquial sense of the expression, according to the horse's former owner, Suzanne Moscarelli, approaches "You the man." But in this case, A Huevo isn't. He's a gelding.

Moscarelli, also the co-breeder, said that as a young horse, "He was a bear. He was rough, hard to handle, and big on top of it. His sire, Cool Joe, was big, too. He was like 16-3." So A Huevo was gelded to make him more manageable.

But the big bay showed ability from the start. Moscarelli said: "We had several offers for him early on, and we sold him to Mark Hopkins through Michael Dickinson and his partner Joan [Wakefield]. My son was training him up to that time."

Various problems have limited A Huevo's racing, and he will be laid up once again with a tendon problem. When he's right, however, he's very good, as he showed in winning the De Francis Dash. In the process, A Huevo provided a mark of quality for his sire. Many a sire of greater distinction and wider recognition than Cool Joe never has gotten a Grade 1 winner, so siring a horse of this ability is no small feat.

The stallion cannot reach any new heights of success, however, because he died in 1997, the year after A Huevo was foaled.

In all, Cool Joe sired 52 foals from nine crops, and 75 percent started, with 58 percent winners. Those are respectable statistics, but A Huevo is his sire's only stakes winner, and the production of stakes winners is the bottom line in sire success.

A big, powerful horse who occasionally was used as a teaser, Cool Joe was not widely known as a stallion. "We never advertised him," Moscarelli said. "We had a little partnership going with my husband's friends in New York, Joe Kosciuk and Joe Menafra. When the horse got going good on the track, they were looking for something to be involved with, and we offered them a piece of Cool Joe. Everything associated with the partnership had to have a 'Joe' in it.

"We bred and raced Cool Joe, and he won the first Maryland Million Sprint. He was talented but had very bad knees. So we sent him to Allen Jerkens in New York, and he was the one who sent Cool Joe down to the Maryland Million. After that, his knees got so bad that we sent him to the farm and bred some mares before cranking him up again and sending him to the Maryland Million Sprint the next year, when he ran second.

"It was a lot of fun, and when his knee went, we bred Cool Joe to our mares and friends' mares."

A winner of $204,660, Cool Joe was the "best stakes winner by his sire, Cold Reception," Moscarelli said.

Few stallions have had a better pedigree, as Cold Reception was by Triple Crown winner Secretariat out of the high-class stakes winner Cold Comfort, by Nearctic.

Cold Reception was a member of Secretariat's much-anticipated first crop (the second contained Storm Cat's dam, Terlingua, and multiple Grade 1 winner General Assembly), but Cold Reception was much like the other members of that initial crop: able to win but not within many lengths of his sire in ability. The liability for this was perhaps not solely Secretariat's, as Cold Reception proved to be one of three winners from only five live foals out of Cold Comfort.

What successes she lacked as a broodmare, Cold Comfort certainly found on the track. A winner of the Matron Stakes at 2, Cold Comfort ran second in the Matchmaker Stakes and the Acorn at 3, then improved on that form at 4 to win the Barbara Fritchie, Gallorette, and Hempstead handicaps.

Cold Comfort was by the sire of Northern Dancer, Nearctic, and was a sibling to three other stakes horses.

Cool Joe has carried on the Secretariat male line, but this branch will go no further, since A Huevo is a gelding. Even so, he has done his part in restoring prestige to the family with a Grade 1 success.

Bred in West Virginia by Daniel Lopez, A Huevo resulted from a partnership between Lopez and Vincent Moscarelli - Suzanne's late husband - who stood Cool Joe at his Country Roads Farm in West Virginia. Moscarelli and Lopez alternated breeding the foals out the Baldski mare Verabald, the dam of A Huevo.

Verabald won twice as a juvenile, and A Huevo is her fourth foal. The mare's first five foals are all winners, with four earning more than $50,000. The mare's 2-year-old is an unraced bay colt by Concern named Have Concern, and her foal of 2003 is a colt by Afternoon Deelites.

In 1997, the Moscarelli family bought out Lopez's interest in Verabald, as well as in A Huevo, and moved their operation to Maryland. Verabald is quartered there and is in foal to Polish Miner.