10/13/2004 11:00PM

Females stole the show this year


ARCADIA, Calif. - This year will be remembered as the season of fillies and mares among California-breds.

Whether it was Moscow Burning winning the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay Handicap at Belmont Park in June, Bear Fan scoring three wins in graded stakes for sprinters from February to June, Summer Wind Dancer's major stakes wins in California and Delaware, or the successful national raids by 3-year-old fillies such as House of Fortune and Yearly Report, it was the girls who carried the banner for statebreds.

The males have been a disappointing group. No older California-bred horse has scored an important win on the national level, the 3-year-olds have been mediocre, and no 2-year-olds have shown the sort of form that commands attention for the Breeders' Cup.

So, for the first time since Cat's Cradle in 1995, a filly or mare is likely to earn the title of statebred horse of the year. Picking one will not be easy. Perhaps a win by Summer Wind Dancer or Yearly Report in the California Cup Matron on Saturday or an upset win by Moscow Burning in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30 will help voters sort out their decisions.

Here is a glance at the eight equine divisions, with the leading candidates and their accomplishments this year. The three candidates in each division are listed in alphabetical order.

Older males

1. Excess Summer

Pedigree: In Excess-Summer Ruckus, by Bold Ruckus

Breeders: Edwin Gregson and Edward Hand

Owners: Conboy, McClanahan, and Wineman, et al
Trainer: Jeff Mullins

2. Stage Player

Pedigree: Stage Colony-Ole' Sis, by Ole'

Breeders: Brian Bartch, Barbara Dutton, and Tom Capehart

Owner: Robert Bone

Trainer: Jeff Mullins

3. Yougottawanna

Pedigree: Candi's Gold-Chapel's Sister, by Midway Circle

Breeder: Halo Farms

Owner: Peter Redekop, B.C., Ltd.

Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer

In a division that has lacked a standout this year, the California Cup program is expected to play an important role in the title for older male of the year.

Excess Summer began the year with a promising second to Florida-bred Southern Image in the Sunshine Millions Classic in January, but was sidelined until September. He prepped for the California Cup Classic with a second in the Governor's Cup Handicap at Fairplex Park last month.

Yougottawanna has been the top older state-bred in northern California this year. Claimed for $50,000 and $80,000 in the first half of the year, he has won two stakes this year. He, too, is a top contender in the Classic.

Stage Player has been a standout on turf, winning the Claiming Crown Emerald at Canterbury Park and the California Turf Championship at Bay Meadows last month. He starts in Saturday's California Cup Mile.

Calkins Road, the winner of the 2002 California Cup Classic, has raced sparingly this year, but did run his best race of the year winning the Joseph Grace Handicap at the Sonoma County Fair in Santa Rosa in August. He starts in the Classic.

Older females

1. Bear Fan

Pedigree: Pine Bluff-Shezalong, by Shimatoree

Breeder-Trainer: Wesley Ward

Owners: Ward and Peter Fan

2. Moscow Burning

Pedigree: Moscow Ballet-Burning Desire, by Mr. Leader

Breeders: Harris Farms and Ken Maddy Trust

Owners: Don Van Kampen, Jeffrey Mariani and Michael Nentwig

Trainer: Jim Cassidy

3. Summer Wind Dancer

Pedigree: Siberian Summer-Native Wind Dancer, by Incinderator

Breeders: Wira, Vetter and Penny

Owners: Linda Vetter and Richard and Yvette Wira

Trainer: Jeff Mullins

This category is so deep that Dream of Summer, the winner of two graded stakes during the summer; Valentine Dancer, who won the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf in January; and Royally Chosen, who won the B. Thoughtful Stakes in April, could easily have been included among the three profiled candidates.

The three fillies and mares listed each have won graded stakes and at least $495,000 this year. Each was brilliant in her respective division - Bear Fan in sprints, Moscow Burning on turf, and Summer Wind Dancer routing on the main track.

Bear Fan was brilliant in the first half of the year, winning three graded stakes and never finishing worse than third in six starts.

Summer Wind Dancer won the Delaware and Hawthorne handicaps, and Moscow Burning will make her fifth consecutive start in a graded stakes in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf.


1. Bear Fan

Pedigree: Pine Bluff-Shezalong, by Shimatoree

Breeder-Trainer: Wesley Ward

Owners: Ward and Peter Fan

2. Dream of Summer

Pedigree: Siberian Summer-Mary's Dream, by Skywalker

Owner-Breeder: James Weigel

Trainer: Juan Garcia

3. McCann's Mojave

Pedigree: Memo-Joni U. Bar, by Nordic Prince

Owners-Breeders: Nikki Hunt and Mike Willman

Trainer: Leonard Dorfman

Another category with depth. The list of candidates could have included California Cup Sprint hopeful Green Team, the winner of the California Sprint Championship at Bay Meadows on Sept. 11.

The leading contender for the title is Bear Fan, who won the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie at Laurel in February, the Irish O'Brien for state-breds at Santa Anita in March, and two Grade 2 stakes at Belmont Park in the spring: the Genuine Risk over six furlongs and the Vagrancy over 6 1/2 furlongs. She finished second in the Princess Rooney Handicap at Calder in July, her most recent start.

McCann's Mojave had an excellent campaign in the first few months of the year, but was sidelined with injury in May. He was brilliant in winning the Grade 2 Potrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita in March and was a game second to Speightstown in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Handicap on the undercard of the Kentucky Derby.

Turf horse

1. Black Bart

Pedigree: Stage Colony-Lyrical Pirate, by Pirate's Bounty

Breeders: Ed and Sharon Hudon

Owner: Thomas F. Metzger Sr.

Trainer: Troy Bainum

2. Moscow Burning

Pedigree: Moscow Ballet-Burning Desire, by Mr. Leader

Breeders: Harris Farms and Ken Maddy Trust

Owners: Don Van Kampen, Jeffrey Mariani and Michael Nentwig

Trainer: Jim Cassidy

3. Stage Player

Pedigree: Stage Colony-Ole' Sis, by Ole'

Breeders: Brian Bartch, Barbara Dutton and Tom Capehart

Owner: Robert Bone

Trainer: Jeff Mullins

Moscow Burning, a 4-year-old, has been a standout this year, racing throughout the nation. She won the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay Handicap at Belmont Park in June and has not been worse than third in six consecutive starts. The streak began with a victory against state-bred fillies and mares in the Fran's Valentine Stakes at Hollywood Park in April. She followed with a front-running win in the Sheepshead Bay, second-place finishes in the Beverly Hills and John Mabee handicaps, and a game third against males in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap in late August.

In her last start, Moscow Burning finished third in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational Handicap at Belmont Park. Granted, she has lost more than she has won this year, but Moscow Burning has been remarkably consistent. If she hits the board as a longshot in the Filly and Mare Turf, she will earn major consideration for the California-bred horse of the year title.

The males Black Bart and Stage Player have had excellent campaigns, each winning turf stakes for statebreds and winning on other circuits. Black Bart won two minor stakes at Turf Paradise in the winter.


1. Areyoutalkintome

Pedigree: Smokester-Andrea Gail, by Storm Bird

Breeders: John Toffan and Trudy McCaffery

Owners: Ron Manzani, Dennis O'Neill, Russ Sarno

Trainer: Doug O'Neill

2. Cheiron

Pedigree: Maria's Mon-Fortunee, Wild Again

Breeder: The Thoroughbred Corp.

Owners: Noctis Stable, Neil Papiano and Steve Taub

Trainer: Kristin Mulhall

3. Lava Man

Pedigree: Slew City Slew-Li'l Ms. Leonard, by Nostalgia's Star

Breeders: Lonnie Arterburn

Owners: STD Racing Stable and Jason Wood

Trainer: Doug O'Neill

This has been a poor year for statebred 3-year-old males. No statebred made a significant impression on the Triple Crown trail in the early part of the year, and there were no late-developing colts such as Tiznow, who won the Eclipse Award as the 2000 Horse of the Year with late-season success.

Cheiron has the distinction of winning the richest race for the division, the $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes at Hollywood Park in April. Cheiron made one more start, a fourth in the Affirmed Handicap in June, and is looking to rebound in Saturday's Sprint. To win, he must best Areyoutalkintome, who has developed into a promising sprinter in recent months for trainer Doug O'Neill.

At Del Mar, Areyoutalkingtome beat a moderate field by three lengths in the Real Good Deal Stakes for statebreds and then ran a game second to Green Team in the California Sprint Championship at Bay Meadows on Sept. 11.

A win by either in the Sprint could clinch the championship.

Cozy Guy and Lava Man, the second- and third-place finishers in the Pomona Derby, start in Saturday's Classic. Lava Man won the Derby Trial Stakes at Fairplex Park last month.

3-year-old fillies

1. House of Fortune

Pedigree: Free House-So Fortunate, by Garthorn

Breeder: John Treasure

Owner: Arnold Zetcher

Trainer: Ron McAnally

2. Silent Sighs

Pedigree: Benchmark-Quiet Romance, by Bertrando

Owners-Breeders: Marty and Pam Wygod

Trainer: Julio Canani

3. Yearly Report

Pedigree: General Meeting-Fiscal Year, by Half a Year

Breeders: John and Betty Mabee

Owner: Golden Eagle Farm

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Silent Sighs won the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks, and House of Fortune won the Grade 2 Fantasy Stakes and the Grade 2 Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks, but Yearly Report outdid them both through the year, winning four stakes across the nation.

A late-developing 2-year-old in 2003, Yearly Report won her first four starts of 2004: the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Stakes, the Melair Stakes for statebreds, the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico, and the Grade 2 Delaware Oaks at Delaware Park.

The disappointments of her campaign were a springtime illness that kept her from starting in the Kentucky Oaks and a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga, her most recent start.

Yearly Report will have a tough field to beat in Saturday's California Cup Matron, but may have already accomplished enough this year to earn the division championship.


1. Senor Fango

Pedigree: Mud Royte-Creyente, by Believe It

Owners-Breeders: Dutton Stables and Vlad Popovich

Trainer: Jerry Dutton

2. Swiss Lad

Pedigree: Phone Saga-Swiss Courts Cheat, by Notebook

Owner-Breeder: Ron Waranch

Trainer: Jeff Mullins

3. Top Money

Pedigree: Old Topper-Money for Madrid, by Alwasmi

Owner-Breeders: Tommy Town Thoroughbreds

Trainer: Adam Kitchingman

Swiss Lad is out for a year with an injury, and Top Money will attempt to extend his unbeaten streak to four in Saturday's California Cup Juvenile. Top Money can earn the championship with a victory, but he will be racing beyond six furlongs for the first time.

Swiss Lad had an excellent September, finishing third behind Declan's Moon and Roman Ruler in the Grade 2 Del Mar Futurity before winning the Cavonnier Stakes for statebreds. Top Money has not started since winning the I'm Smokin Stakes, his first start away from claimers.

Senor Fango and Fallfree were first and second in the Graduation Stakes at Del Mar in July but are not entered for the California Cup. There is time for This Wizard Rocks to make a late impression this year. He won the Gateway to Glory Stakes by 9 1/2 lengths at Fairplex Park on Sept. 23, his first win in his fourth start. He starts in the Juvenile.

2-year-old fillies

1. Coastal Strike

Pedigree: Smart Strike-Coast Rica, by Meadowlake

Owners-Breeders: Mr. and Mrs. Larry Williams

Trainer: Clifford Sise

2. Short Route

Pedigree: Mud Route-Short Call, by Phone Trick

Owner-Breeder: Herrick Racing

Trainer: Joe Herrick

3. Sterling Cat

Pedigree: Event of the Year-Stormy Regina, by Storm Cat

Breeders: Mrs. John Mabee

Owners: Mary Schroeder and James Vreeland

Trainer: Jeff Bonde

Coastal Strike and Sterling Cat are sidelined with sore shins, postponing a couple of promising careers. Both are stakes winners unbeaten in two starts; Sterling Cat won the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association Stakes at the beginning of the Del Mar meeting, and Coastal Strike won the Generous Portion Stakes at the end of that meeting.

Short Route won the Cover Gal Stakes over seven furlongs Sept. 29 and is a top contender for Saturday's California Cup Juvenile Fillies. Her only loss in three starts is a fourth behind Coastal Strike in the Generous Portion.

There is likely to be a California-bred in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Owner-trainer Bill Currin is considering the race for Memorette, who finished third in the Grade 2 Oak Leaf Stakes and was second to Coastal Strike in the Generous Portion.