12/03/2004 12:00AM

Heiligbrodt's hunch


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Any young colt who sweeps through his first season unbeaten and turns a glistening eye to the Triple Crown is going to be compared to Smarty Jones, the public favorite who nearly captured racing's most coveted honor this year.

This fall there are a pair of 2-year-olds, one on each coast, who fit that description. From the West comes Declan's Moon, unbeaten going into the Hollywood Futurity, and in the East is Rockport Harbor, winner of all four of his starts, including last weekend's Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct.

In the Remsen, Rockport Harbor won by only a neck over the game A. P Jet gelding Galloping Grocer. The first two, however, finished more than eight lengths ahead of the Remsen third-place finisher, a useful Fusaichi Pegasus colt named Killenaule.

Although run at the season's end and typically marking the first time its starters have tried nine furlongs, the Remsen has been won by some outstanding colts, such as multiple classic winners Northern Dancer and Damascus.

This year's running produced the second-fastest time in Remsen history. Rockport Harbor's time of 1:48.88 is 1.08 seconds slower than the 1:47.80 that Believe It took to win the race in 1977 from Alydar.

That's not bad company.

In this year of Smarty Jones, the similarities to the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner do not stop with Rockport Harbor being undefeated and impressive. He is trained by John Servis and ridden by Stewart Elliott.

There the similarity ends, however. Rockport Harbor races for Rick Porter in the name of Fox Hill Farms. Unlike homebred Smarty Jones, Porter purchased Rockport Harbor for $470,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale in 2003 out of the consignment of Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent.

Bred in Kentucky by Heiligbrodt Racing Stable and Taylor Made Farm, Rockport Harbor is one of three dozen stakes winners by Unbridled's Song. He is out of the stakes-winning Copelan mare Regal Miss Copelan. Bred by Harry Mangurian Jr., Regal Miss Copelan won only two of her 11 races, but one of them was the Colleen Stakes at Monmouth. She earned $56,225.

In foal to Unbridled's Song, Regal Miss Copelan sold for $525,000 at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale in 1999. Bill Heiligbrodt, the buyer, said, "I bought Regal Miss Copelan because I owned her full sister, Regally Appealing," winner of the Adirondack Stakes at Saratoga.

"Regally Appealing had been a top racemare for me," Heiligbrodt said, and "the Taylors bought 5 percent of Regal Miss Copelan when I went over there" to board broodmares.

Looking back, Heiligbrodt said, "I probably overpaid to get her, but her first baby sold exceptionally. I thought it was outstanding in conformation."

That foal of 2000 (later named Going Commando) was so attractive that the owners sent the mare back to Unbridled's Song in 2001. Explaining the rationale for the mating, Heiligbrodt said, "Regal Miss Copelan was short-backed and stocky, and I thought Unbridled's Song" - who is notably tall and lengthy through the body - "was the right match for her."

That mating produced Rockport Harbor.

Ben Taylor of Taylor Made Farm said, "We owned the mare together and bought a season to Unbridled's Song. Then in 2003, we sold her" for $350,000 to ClassicStar in foal to Forestry.

A few months after Regal Miss Copelan was bred to Unbridled's Song for the second time, Going Commando brought $550,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select sale of yearlings in 2001. The following year, Regal Miss Copelan produced Rockport Harbor.

In between the full brothers by Unbridled's Song, Regal Miss Copelan produced a filly by Silver Deputy named Deputy Rose.

"I kept the Silver Deputy filly," Heiligbrodt said, "and bought another filly out of that family that I thought was even better than Regal Miss Copelan conformationally."

The filly Heiligbrodt purchased was Royal Sweep, by End Sweep. Deputy Rose is in training, but her owner believes she is more valuable as a broodmare at this point.

Now part of the ClassicStar broodmare band, Regal Miss Copelan is in foal to the Gone West stallion Mr. Greeley for 2005 on a March 31 cover. She has a weanling colt by Forestry and is expected to return to Unbridled's Song next year.