09/24/2003 11:00PM

Halfbridled is family's latest star


LEXINGTON, Ky. - According to the Breeders' Cup future bet, the heaviest favorite among the Breeders' Cup contenders is the juvenile filly Halfbridled. She is a daughter of Breeders' Cup Classic winner Unbridled and Half Queen, by Deputy Minister, who sired a pair of Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winners.

Halfbridled, a big bay filly, is undefeated in two starts, and her most recent effort in winning the Del Mar Debutante by five lengths over Hollywood Story has made Halfbridled the premier player in this year's run-up to the Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita on Oct. 25.

This weekend, she goes in the Oak Leaf Stakes at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting. Halfbridled figures to be odds-on to win that Grade 1 event and enter the starting gate for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies unbeaten.

Bred in Kentucky by Wertheimer & Frere (Alain and Gerard Wertheimer) and raced by Wertheimer Farm, Halfbridled won her maiden by 4 1/2 lengths at Del Mar on July 27. Just a month later, she won the seven-furlong Del Mar Debutante and brought her career earnings to $179,400.

Half Queen, Halfbridled's dam, is a half-sister to Grade 2 winner Lu Ravi. Both are out of Grade 3 winner At the Half, by Seeking the Gold.

Bill Tite is general manager for Hagyard Farm, where Halfbridled was born and raised. "Half Queen is a big, strong mare, pretty typical of Deputy Minister," Tite said. "She has a yearling colt by Saint Ballado, a filly this year by Pulpit, and is back in foal to Pulpit on a June 14 cover."

The Wertheimers bought Half Queen for $325,000 at the Keeneland November sales in 1996. Prior to Lu Ravi becoming a major stakes star, both At the Half and the weanling Half Queen were consigned to the November sales by the Ashview Farm of breeder Wayne Lyster.

In foal to Storm Cat, At the Half brought $950,000 from Will Farish, and the mare's first produce for her new ownership was Storm and a Half, who sold for $1.2 million at the 1998 Keeneland September yearling sales. By that time, Lu Ravi had shown her ability at the racetrack, and the family was appreciating in value by the day.

Earlier this month, a full sister to Lu Ravi sold for $1.35 million on the opening day of the Keeneland September yearling sale. Reynolds Bell Jr., acting on behalf of Jayeff B Stable, signed the ticket.

Lane's End, as agent, consigned the filly, and her value clearly was enhanced by being a half-sister to Half Queen - especially since Halfbridled had won the Del Mar Debutante only a few days earlier. The currency of top-class performance added the necessary spice to attract multiple bidders for the filly. In addition, people can't often buy into this very good family.

Nor will owners be able to acquire many more young prospects by Unbridled, who died in 2001. Scarcity combined with the impressive efforts of some of the sire's top stock made the yearlings by Unbridled sell very well this year, and shortly after the half-sister to Lu Ravi and Half Queen sold, Bell went to $1.1 million in purchasing an Unbridled filly who is a full sister to champion Banshee Breeze.

Consigned by Mill Ridge Sales, agent, the yearling filly is out of the stakes-placed Known Fact mare Banshee Winds, who is also the dam of stakes winner Unbridled Wind. Banshee Breeze was champion 3-year-old filly in 1998 and won five Grade 1 races: the Coaching Club American Oaks, Alabama, Spinster, Apple Blossom, and Go for Wand.

A big, rangy horse, Unbridled was not the easiest stallion to mate, but when he matched well with a mare, the results could be spectacular. The big bay sired a pair of American classic winners: Kentucky Derby winner Grindstone and Preakness winner Red Bullet. In addition to a champion in Banshee Breeze, Unbridled sired Unbridled's Song and Anees, a pair of Breeders' Cup Juvenile winners. The stallion's other Grade 1 winners include Manistique, Unshaded, and Exogenous.

Obviously, these are early days to estimate Unbridled's contribution to the breed through his daughters, but the early results from his sons have been encouraging. Unbridled's Song, a horse of similar proportions to his sire, has had success with his initial crops, with such high-class racers as Grade 1 winners Songandaprayer, Buddha, and Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Unbridled Elaine. Unbridled's Song now commands a six-figure stud fee.

As the years go by, breeders will come to appreciate the loss of Unbridled more and more.