05/11/2007 12:00AM

Derby success for one-mare operation

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You can't get smaller than a one-broodmare breeding operation, but that's all that Gerry Theisen owns these days. Her lone broodmare, Frosty Cupcake, by Top Account, is the dam of Imawildandcrazyguy, the gray or roan colt who proved best of the Florida-breds when he rallied from last place and another time zone to finish fourth in last week's Kentucky Derby.

"We kept looking for him," said Theisen, "but we couldn't find him until almost at the end." She was at home in Ocala, Fla., watching the race courtesy of NBC.

Theisen, naturally, was ecstatic with the finish of Imawildandcrazyguy, but melancholy as well. She would have liked to have had her late husband Ward enjoy the family's conviviality, but he passed on a couple of years ago.

"We're originally from California," said Theisen. "My grandparents raced horses. When Ward, who was a contractor for Walt Disney, was assigned to work on Disney World, we relocated to Orlando."

Ocala is a leisurely two-hour drive from Disney World. The Theisens made the trip many times before deciding that Marion County would be their new home when Ward's career working for Disney was done.

"The area reminded me so much of the California countryside, we knew that this is where we wanted to be," Theisen said.

In the mid-80s the Theisens bought a 20-acre farm in Ocala area, subsequently adding a few acres more. Ward Theisen, upon retirement, spent much of his time, said Gerry, learning the pedigree end of the business. The broodmare band prospered to where the Theisens were breeding 10 mares.

"The first good horse we bred was Din's Dancer," said Theisen. "Jack Van Berg trained him and he won several stakes and over a half-million dollars. We raced him with Ken Opstein."

Din's Dancer finished 13th in the 1988 Kentucky Derby, a year after Van Berg had won the Derby with Alysheba.

Imawildandcrazyguy is a son of the Bridlewood Farm stallion Wild Event. Theisen credits Bridlewood Farm manager George Isaacs for being both helpful and savvy when it comes to matings. It was Isaacs, said Theisen, who suggested Wild Event as suitable stallion for their broodmare.

Bridlewood Farm, agent, consigned Imawildandcrazyguy as a weanling to the '04 Ocala Breeders' Sales fall mixed sale, but the weanling failed to bring his reserve. Imawildandcrazyguy was subsequently sold the following August in the OBS yearling sale, pin-hooked by Fred and Sara Lynn Yutani for $17,000. Fast forward to the '06 OBS spring sale of 2-year-olds in training and once again Imawildandcrazyguy did not meet his reserve. Enter Calder Race Course trainer Bill Kaplan, who is known to be partial to gray or roan horses. It was Kaplan's patrons Lewis Pell and Michael Eigner who bought the gelding privately from consignor Lynn Erin Farm.

It's worth noting that Kaplan's eye was taken by another gray or roan horse at that same OBS spring sale of 2-year-olds in training. Storm in May was bought at that sale for $16,000 for Kaplan clients David and Teresa Palmer and Felicity Waugh. Kaplan kept a piece of the horse for himself. Although he finished well behind Imawildandcrazyguy in the Kentucky Derby, Storm in May is nonetheless a stakes winner of $459,430.

Frosty Cupcake, the dam of Imawildandcrazyguy, is in Kentucky awaiting a pregnancy surety. She was bred to Jump Start. The mare has no foal for '07, but there is a yearling filly by the late Horse of the Year Favorite Trick and a 2-year-old filly by Unbridled Time who is named I Am Mary.

"Frosty Cupcake is forever going to be a part of our family," said Theisen. "When the time comes she'll be a pensioner. One of the last things my late husband said to me was, 'Take care of her, she's special.' We have and we will."

A graded winner in every crop

Padua Stables' Exchange Rate has a pair of 2-year-old winners this year and one of these, Rated Fiesty, won the Grade 3 Kentucky Breeders' Cup Stakes on Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs. This gives the young Danzig stallion a record of siring at least one graded stakes winner in each of his first three crops.

Exchange Rate is Florida's leading sire for '07 with more than $1.2 million in earnings. He is followed by Trippi (Ocala Stud) and Put It Back (Bridlewood Farm).