04/26/2007 11:00PM

Happy Hailey debunks her sire's stereotype


Think precocious juveniles, and a middle-distance-loving son of A.P. Indy who won stakes on the turf may not be the first stallion to come to mind. But Maryland Stallion Station's first-year sire Rock Slide has already quashed that stereotype, getting his first winner with his first starter on Thursday at Pimlico.

There had been a buzz surrounding John Salzman's homebred 2-year-old filly Happy Hailey as she progressed through her works leading up to her debut.

Donald Litz, Maryland Stallion Station's founding partner and president, was thrilled with what he was hearing about the Maryland-bred Rock Slide filly and her connections. Salzman trained the remarkable champion sprinter Xtra Heat throughout her career. Salzman's son Tim has since taken over the barn, and has become well known for his prowess with 2-year-olds.

One of approximately 35 juveniles in Rock Slide's initial crop, Happy Hailey was the only filly in the eight-horse field for her debut, which included her workmate, the colt Brahma Fear. Those two were hustled to the front in the early stages of the 4 1/2-furlong maiden special weight, with the filly three wide on the outside. As the leaders rounded the far turn, Happy Hailey began to draw off and finished two lengths clear of runner-up Brahma Fear.

Happy Hailey is the fifth winner for her dam, the M. Double M. mare Redeployed, who also produced stakes-placed juvenile Run Cat Run.

"She was so poised in the paddock," Litz said of Happy Hailey. "She did everything like a pro."

Litz has gotten numerous reports of other Rock Slide juveniles getting close to their first start. And Thursday turned out to be a good day at the sales for the young stallion as well, as he was represented by a $120,000 colt at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's spring sale of 2-year-olds in training. Out of the Known Fact mare Ms. D. D. Walton, the chestnut colt named Rocky Six was purchased by Tom McCrocklin as agent for Mark Keller.

Now 9, Rock Slide was a two-time stakes winner who raced from ages 2 to 5 and earned $442,500 from 23 starts. But his race record pales in comparison to his pedigree, as he is one of five stakes winners from foals produced by the Grade 1-winning Prospectors Delite. A daughter of Mr. Prospector, Prospectors Delite was herself a half-sister to six stakes winners. And she is the dam of horse of the year Mineshaft, whose first foals also come to the races this year.

"The A.P. Indys may not be known to be quick," said Litz. "But Rock Slide did show speed during his career."

And with the excitement growing for his 2-year-olds, Litz predicts Rock Slide will be bred to at least 100 mares this year. The stallion stands for $5,000 live foal.

Ritchey's picks look good now

Afleet Alex's trainer, Tim Ritchey, did the honors of judging the Maryland Horse Breeders Association's annual yearling show last summer, and among his class winners were a More Than Ready colt and a Hennessy filly. Both turned up at Keeneland during the week of April 16.

The More Than Ready colt, now named Ready's Image, became the first Maryland-bred 2-year-old winner of 2007 when he drew clear in a 4o1/2-furlong maiden special weight on April 20. Owned by James Scatuorchio and trained by Todd Pletcher, Ready's Image produced a dazzling burst of speed to get the lead in midstretch and go on to win by 3o1/4 lengths. Making his first start, he was the even-money favorite in the field of 11.

Ready's Image was sold by his breeder, David and JoAnn Hayden's Dark Hollow Farm, at the Keeneland September yearling sale for $410,000.

Rosy Wreath, the bay Hennessy filly bred by Frank P. Wright out of Royal Feat (by Kingmambo), brought $210,000 at Keeneland's April 2-year-olds in training sale on April 17. Consigned by Sequel Bloodstock (Becky Thomas), agent, Rosy Wreath was purchased by J.S. McDonald.

Out of a half-sister to the dam of stakes winners Blue Sky Princess and Vaguely Rich and from the immediate family of stakes winner Inner Harbour, Rosy Wreath was reserve champion at the 2006 yearling show. She had been sold by her breeder, in the name of Huntingfields, for $170,000 at the 2006 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga selected yearling sale.

This year's yearling show, restricted to Maryland-breds, will be held on June 24 at the Timonium Fairgrounds horse show ring. In addition to prize money given the day of the show, all yearlings exhibited are eligible for bonus money totaling $40,000, based on their earnings at ages 2 and 3. Maryland Stallion Station will once again be host for the popular crab feast held the evening before the show.