08/15/2002 11:00PM

Freshmen begin to make mark


This year's class of Maryland freshman sires is gaining momentum now that racing in the state has resumed after a short break. Since the opening of Laurel Park's summer meet on July 25, four of Maryland's five first-year sires who have had a winner have had one at Laurel.

The most recent came on Wednesay, when Butiwillflysomeday, a daughter of Murmur Farm stallion Yarrow Brae, barreled her way to a 4 1/4-length victory in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight.

Maryland-bred Butiwillflysomeday, a May foal out of Kate of Aragon, is owned by Racer's Edge Stables and trained by Daniel Cassidy.

Yarrow Brae had his first winner less than a week earlier with Ministeroftrucks's score in a six-furlong maiden race at Laurel Aug. 8. A filly, Ministeroftrucks, out of Truckster (by Huckster), is owned by her breeder, Donald Reuwer, and won by five lengths in her first start. She is trained by John Salzman.

A 7-year-old son of Deputy Minister, Yarrow Brae was one of his sire's top runners of 1998, winning the Grade 2 Illinois Derby and finishing second in three other stakes, including the Grade 2 Jim Beam Stakes and Grade 3 Derby Trial.

Yarrow Brae retired that year with earnings of $571,580 from 18 starts, and entered stud at Allen and Audrey Murray's Murmur Farm in Darlington. Yarrow Brae is out of the Miswaki mare Bally Five.

Just a couple of miles down the road from Murmur Farm lies Bonita Farm, home to Grade 1 winner Ops Smile, whose first winner came five races before Yarrow Brae's on Aug. 8. A Queen's Smile, a filly bred in partnership by owner Joseph Cornacchia and the Boniface family's Bonita Farm, rallied from near the back of the 11-horse field to draw off to a 2 1/2-length score in the one-mile maiden special weight.

A Queen's Smile, out of the Pleasant Tap mare Queen Tap, is trained by Kevin Boniface. Her sire, Ops Smile, was trained the majority of his career by Kevin's father, Bill Boniface, under whom the roan son of Caveat won such turf races as the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap and Grade 2 Dixie Stakes. Ops Smile retired to Bonita Farm after a five-year career in which he won nine races and $785,246. Produced from the stakes winner Northern Sting, by Northern Jove, Ops Smile is a full brother to multiple stakes winner and graded stakes-placed Icy Warning as well as stakes-placed Northern Flair; his half-brother is Maryland Million Classic winner Testing.

Bonita also stands Swear by Dixie, a 7-year-old son of Dixieland Band represented by his first winner, Mark Aim Fire, on June 30 at Delaware Park in a race she won by nearly 10 lengths. She followed up that win with a four-length victory in allowance company July 26 at Laurel. Bred in Maryland by Bonita Farm and out of the Arctic Tern mare Trinity Shot, Mark Aim Fire is owned Kennard Warfield Jr. and trained Kevin Boniface.

Swear by Dixie, a stakes winner of $186,995, is out of graded stakes winner and multiple stakes producer Under Oath, a daughter of Bonita Farm's preeminent resident Deputed Testamony.

Storm Broker, a son of Storm Cat who stands at Country Life Farm in Bel Air, gained his first winner when his Maryland-bred daughter Stormy La Reine galloped to a 21 3/4-length rout in a six-furlong maiden race on July 27 at Laurel. Out of La Reine Rose, by King Pellinore, Stormy La Reine competed for Skeedattle Associates and trainer Tony Dutrow.

Winner of the Grade 3 Ben Ali Stakes at 4, Storm Broker earned $138,714. Eight-year-old Storm Broker is out of top-class race mare Buy the Firm, a daughter of Affirmed who earned $735,409 during her career.

The only winning Maryland freshman sire not to have a Laurel winner currently tops the ranks. Partner's Hero, who stands at Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City, was the first to make his mark when Maryland-bred Joanie's Smile won her maiden by 2 1/4 lengths on May 8 at Belmont Park. I Pay the Bills, a winner on July 2 at Colonial Downs, and Object of Virtue, who scored on July 27 at Mountaineer Park, are the 8-year-old stallion's other winners.

With 63 2-year-olds in his first crop, the most of any freshman sire in the state, it shouldn't be long before Partner's Hero gets a winner in Maryland.

A top sprinting son of Danzig out of Safely Home, by Winning Hit, Partner's Hero is a half-brother to champion sprinter Safely Kept. He won five stakes, placed in eight others, and earned $554,731.