02/07/2011 4:11PM

Decision to race son of Bellamy Road pays off for owner

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Dianne Cotter said she didn’t have seller’s remorse after watching Bellamy Road go through the auction ring in 2004 as a 2-year-old for $87,000 and return a year later for George Steinbrenner to win the Wood Memorial by 17 1/2 lengths and head to Louisville as the Kentucky Derby favorite.

However, she did tell herself that if she ever got a chance to breed a mare to Bellamy Road she would keep the offspring to race as opposed to sell, which is what she and her husband, Julian, usually do. So, when Cotter bred the mare Brandon’s Ride to Bellamy Road, she knew she was going to keep the resulting foal, a colt they named Toby’s Corner.

“When we bred to Bellamy Road, we knew we’d like to race his son since we didn’t race Bellamy,” said Cotter, who bred only three mares in 2007. “Luckily, we found [trainer] Graham Motion, who has been wonderful with him.”

Now, Cotter and Motion have an interesting 3-year-old colt who recorded his third consecutive victory Saturday, winning the $100,000 Whirlaway Stakes by two lengths over a muddy Aqueduct inner track. He earned a respectable Beyer Speed Figure of 88.

Toby’s Corner, who had won two straight one-turn one-mile races at Laurel, is expected to make his next start March 5 in the Grade 3, $250,000 Gotham Stakes, which, like the Whirlaway, is a two-turn 1 1/16-mile race. The Gotham is the prep for the Grade 1, $750,000 Wood Memorial on April 9.

Cotter has a memory of the 2005 Wood hanging in her family room. Her brother had commissioned the artist Robert Clark to paint a picture of Bellamy Road’s record-setting performance in the Wood and gave it to her as a Christmas present in 2005. Cotter said she remembered watching that year’s Wood Memorial from her home near Gainesville, Fla.

“That was just exciting that he did that well,” Cotter said. “Maybe we wouldn’t have known where to send him or do as well as he did with Mr. Steinbrenner. He had the wherewithal to do the best thing by the horse.”

Cotter, 73, said she is conservative by nature and does not have any dreams about the Kentucky Derby with Toby’s Corner. On Monday, Cotter wasn’t even sure if Toby’s Corner – named for a pony named Toby that Cotter bought her granddaughter nearly 20 years ago who was kept in the corner stall of the barn – was nominated to the Triple Crown. He is.

“It’s not necessarily the best horse that wins the Derby,” Cotter said. “It must be intimidating to them with all the horses.”

Motion also is conservative and said he will let Toby’s Corner take them to the next step, not the other way around.

“I’m not forcing the issue,” Motion said. “He’s got to take me there. If he’s good enough, he’s going to get it done.”

Given that New York weather can be tricky in early March, Cotter said she wasn’t sure if she would come up from Florida for the Gotham.

“We’re talking about it, but we’re not sure yet,” Cotter said. “If he wins the Gotham, we’ll certainly be at the next race.”