07/26/2007 11:00PM

Hook and Ladder runners score early

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New York stallion Hook and Ladder now has a graded stakes performer as his first crop of runners continues to impress.

His daughter I Promise, his first stakes starter, just missed in the Grade 3 Schuylerville Stakes as the prestigious summer meeting at Saratoga Race Course got underway Wednesday.

Showing high speed from the gate, I Promise dropped a nose decision to Subtle Aly.

A New York-bred filly, I Promise was bred by Chester and Mary Broman, and is owned by Dennis Narlinger and trained by Gary Contessa. She is out of the stakes-placed mare Affirm Promise, by Affirmed.

Purchased for $70,000 at the Fasig-Tipton February 2-year-olds in training sale, she has earned $46,800 in her two starts.

I Promise won her maiden at Belmont Park in restricted company on June 28.

Hook and Ladder, a 10-year-old son of Dixieland Band, already has 4 winners from 7 runners this year. In addition to I Promise, the winners are Under Serviced, Spanky Fischbein, and Play N Happy.

Winner of the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Sprint and Grade 3 Mr. Prospector Handicap, Hook and Ladder also placed in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap.

His stakes-placed dam Taianna, by Cox's Ridge, is out of a half-sister to graded winner Northern Fable, whose family includes champion Bernardini and former New York sire Abaginone. Other major stakes winners in Hook and Ladder's pedigree include Muhtathir, Fairway Flyer, Torsion, and Devil's Cup.

Hook and Ladder's juveniles have been well received at this year's major auctions. His colts are averaging $154,143, while his fillies are averaging $92,500.

Hook and Ladder has four colts and one filly cataloged for the New York-bred preferred yearling sale in Saratoga Springs on Aug. 10-11.

One of those colts, Hip no. 432, is out of the Affirmed mare Whiskey Whisper.

He stands at Sequel Stallions New York in Hudson, where his 2007 fee was $6,000.

Raise a Man dies at 30

The veteran New York sire Raise a Man, who died on July 22 of natural causes at Jonathan Davis's Milfer Farm, near Unadilla, N.Y., at the age of 30, was the sire of 24 stakes winners. His top runners included Vinnie the Viper, winner of the Grade 3 Sport Page Handicap, and Raise a Stanza, winner of the Grade 2 Cinema Handicap. Raise a Man also sired graded or group winners in England, Panama, and South Africa.

Raise a Man, by the great Raise a Native, moved from Gainesway Farm to Milfer Farm in 1990.

At 3, Raise a Man won the San Felipe Handicap and Malibu Stakes, both Grade 2 events, and the Grade 3 San Vicente Handicap. The following season he finished second in the Grade 1 San Fernando Handicap.

Raise a Man was a half-brother to stakes winner Stalwart Sal and descends from the wonderful mare Alcibiades, the champion filly and Kentucky Oaks winner who produced four stakes winners, including Menow, the sire of the great Tom Fool.

Unraced as a 2-year-old, Raise a Man earned $257,450 with a record of 6-1-1 from 12 starts.

Grand Refer wins stakes debut

Grand Refer was a sharp winner of the Ontario County Stakes last weekend at Finger Lakes Race Track.

Owned by Gerry Ibister and Jim Bakke, the son of Grand Slam reported home in 1:10.28 for six furlongs in his stakes debut.

Purchased for $95,000 as a Keeneland September yearling, he sent his career earnings to $112,850 with a record of 4-0-1 from 6 lifetime starts.

Bred by Gibraltar Group LP, Grand Refer is out of Val's Jazz, a stakes-placed daughter of Kentucky Jazz whose mother, Anawac, is a sister to Terra Incognita, winner of the Grade 2 Alcibiades Stakes.

The family also includes stakes winner Stolen Gold, who placed in the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity.