11/18/2005 12:00AM

Disco Rico on top, but owner sees even more potential


Two stakes winners for a young sire within a 24-hour period would send many stallion owners dancing in the streets. But when this happened to Disco Rico, his owner, Joe DiRico was quick to note that Disco Rico could be having an even bigger year.

Disco Rico got his first stakes winner when his speedy daughter Pure Disco, who in July was also his first winner, captured the filly division of the New Jersey Futurity on Nov. 4 at The Meadowlands. Displaying a style reminiscent of her father, Pure Disco burst from the gate and was immediately lengths in front of her rivals. She maintained a clear lead the entire six furlongs to win by 3 1/4 lengths. Bred in New Jersey by her owner, Patricia Generazio, Pure Disco had finished third in the Sorority Stakes at Monmouth in September after setting a rapid pace. She is her sire's leading earner, with $78,155.

On Nov. 5 at Suffolk Downs, the maiden Auntie Millie rallied to victory over 10 rivals in the six-furlong Amelia Peabody Stakes for DiRico, who also bred her. Auntie Millie is the first foal out of Disco Millie, who was bred by Joe DiRico's father, Alfred, and is a half-sister to the DiRicos' stakes-winning mare Dr Margaret. Alfred also is part-owner of Disco Rico, an 8-year-old son of Citidancer.

From 38 named 2-year-olds, Disco Rico has 3 winners from 11 starters, and total progeny earnings of $145,645 through Nov. 17. The leading freshman sire in Maryland, Disco Rico stands at Murmur Farm in Darlington, Md.

Joe DiRico points out that there were many missed opportunites throughout the year. Disco Rico was not represented on Maryland Million Day, which has become a prime launching ground for the state's freshmen sires.

"His two hottest horses were not nominated," said DiRico, referring to Pure Disco and Disco's Son, a colt bred and owned by Joe's uncle, Henry DiRico.

To make matters worse, Disco's Son, a solid maiden winner at Saratoga in August, lost all chance at the break of the Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont, stumbling badly at the start and dumping rider Javier Castellano.

"We all believed he had a really good shot, and would have finished at least second if he had the chance," said DiRico.

Unraced since the Futurity, Disco's Son is expected to start at Gulfstream Park this winter.

Florida is where the DiRicos first saw Maryland-bred Disco Rico, whom they bought for $82,000 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s March 2-year-olds in training sale. He was an unexpected purchase.

"I was in the back walking ring watching the sales horses when I first saw him," said DiRico. "He has such a presence - he just stood out. It was love at first sight."

Disco Rico won stakes each year he raced, from 2 to 4, under the guidance of trainer Lori Testerman. A dynamic sprinter, Disco Rico gained a large fan base in the region while winning or placing in 15 of 17 starts. His seven stakes wins included graded victories in the Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup Stakes and Maryland Breeders' Cup Handicap, and he earned $532,244.

Out of the stakes-placed runner Round It Off (by Apalachee), Disco Rico descends from the well-known Maryland family of Turn Capp, which includes Eclipse Award-winning sprinter and top sire Smoke Glacken. Disco Rico's sire, Citidancer, a standout in the region for years whose runners have included the likes of Grade 1 winners Urbane and Hookedonthefeelin, was recently retired at age 18.

"We think Disco Rico is going to carry on the success of his sire and grandsire, Dixieland Band," said DiRico.

In his first three years at stud, Disco Rico had books of about 50 mares, including a high of 66 in 2003.

DiRico is optimistic about the foals of 2004. "He got an even better group of mares his second season than his first," said DiRico, hoping for fewer missed opportunities.