09/20/2007 11:00PM

Derry Meeting products take Europe by storm

EmailAn invasion of Pennsylvania-bred horseflesh took place in Europe over the second weekend of September, and when the dust settled, the Keystone State flag was flying high.

George Strawbridge's Lucarno and Bettina Jenney's Mrs. Lindsay, both homebreds hailing from the same southeastern Keystone State nursery - Jenney's Derry Meeting Farm - ran off with two Group 1 races, the English classic St. Leger for 3-year-olds at Doncaster on Sept. 15 and the Prix Vermeille at Longchamp the next day.

"It was almost too good to be true," said Jenney from her home in Cochranville a few days after Mrs. Lindsay's determined three-quarter-length victory in France.

Strawbridge, a friend and longtime client of Jenney and her late husband Marshall Jenney, boards approximately 35 mares at Derry Meeting, including Vignette, the dam of Lucarno. According to Lucarno's trainer, John Gosden, it was a sporting gesture on Strawbridge's part for Lucarno to line up for the St. Leger, run at about 1 3/4 miles, as there were questions surrounding the colt's ability at long distance.

Vignette, a Pennsylvania-bred daughter of Diesis, also bred by Strawbridge, had excelled at shorter distances and was a stakes winner at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf at Hollywood Park. To the cover of stamina-influencing sire Dynaformer, she produced Lucarno, her third foal. Lucarno proved up to the task in the St. Leger, producing a powerful stretch run to win by a length, giving his breeder his first victory in an English classic.

Lucarno didn't make his career debut until April 21 at Newbury, finishing second. He won his next two starts, including the Fairway Stakes at Newmarket on May 26, prompting his connections to run in the Epsom Derby a week later. Lucarno turned in a superb effort to finish fourth, losing third by a neck, in a race won by Authorized.

Within a span of five months, Lucarno has made eight starts with an added victory in the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes and a second in the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes. The lucrative St. Leger score propelled Lucarno's career earnings to $1,033,373.

As to racing in Europe this year, Jenney said, "We've had a cluster of good horses. Derry Meeting is really producing runners."

Producing runners is something Derry Meeting has done consistently since Marshall Jenney converted an old dairy farm into a top-class Thoroughbred breeding operation in the late 1960s. The farm's growing list of illustrious names includes leading sires Danzig and Storm Cat, champion and leading European sire Selkirk, Breeders' Cup winner Tikkanen, millionaire Yankee Affair, and Grade 1-winning filly Contredance (from Danzig's first crop).

Mrs. Lindsay comes from a long line of stakes-winning Derry Meeting mares, tracing back to her fourth dam, Mrs. Penny, a classic winner in 1980 who also captured the Prix Vermeille.

Bred by Derry Meeting and sold as a yearling, Mrs. Penny was a champion in England and Ireland, and won the Prix de Diane in France. Following her retirement, Mrs. Penny was boarded at Derry Meeting by her owner, Eric Kronfeld. Counted among Mrs. Penny's Pennsylvania-bred foals was a filly by The Minstrel whom Jenney purchased for himself and named Mrs. Jenney. In a brief career on both the track and at stud, Mrs. Jenney was a stakes winner and exceptional producer.

Mrs. Jenney had but two foals before her death at the age of 7 from colic. Her first was Grade 1 Whitney Handicap winner Unaccounted For, who earned just shy of $1 million and placed in such races as the Breeders' Cup Classic and Jockey Club Gold Cup. The second was A Votre Sante, a daughter of Irish River who was a stakes winner in France. Now a pensioner at Derry Meeting, A Votre Sante produced as her first foal Vole Vole Monamour (by Woodman), the dam of Mrs. Lindsay.

Vole Vole Monamour is in foal to Dixieland Band. Her yearling son, by Tale of the Cat, was sold by Derry Meeting for $150,000 at the Fasig-Tipton select yearling sale at Saratoga. Mrs. Lindsay had also been offered as a yearling, but was bought back for $95,000 when failing to reach her reserve.

Vignette has a 2007 filly by Epsom Derby winner North Light and is back in foal to that champion son of Danehill.

When Marshall Jenney, one of the racing's most enthusiastic and affable sportsmen, died unexpectedly at the age of 60 in November 2000, Bettina Jenney never considered anything except continuing on with Derry Meeting. Jenney owns five broodmares of her own and eight in partnership, but when adding in clients' mares, the farm foals approximately 50 mares a year. Sales prepping and consignments also constitute a large portion of farm business.

"We are carrying on what Marshall started," said Jenney, who credits advisors James Wigan, of London Thoroughbred Services, and Brian O' Rourke with their guidance in breeding and sales decisions.