05/28/2001 11:00PM

Icons find winner's circle again


The thrill of breeding a stakes winner obviously remains fresh for Robert Meyerhoff and Mrs. Allaire duPont, two Maryland icons who were once again in the winner's circle at Pimlico on April 21.

The occasion was Maryland Spring Challenge Day, launched eight years ago to celebrate the state's breeding industry and serve as a complement to the fall's Maryland Million. Four stakes worth a combined $335,000 were offered to runners born in Maryland, and the $200,000 Federico Tesio Stakes, Maryland's top classic prep, carried a bonus of $50,000 for Maryland-bred runners.

This year, four of the biggest names in the state's breeding industry were celebrating.

In addition to Meyerhoff and Mrs. duPont, Richard Golden and the Pons family's Country Life Farm were among the breeders of the four stakes winners.

Mrs. duPont's Shine Again, an elegant dark bay daughter of Wild Again, took the Geisha Handicap by two lengths. Making her first start in Maryland, the Allen Jerkens-trained Shine Again went off as favorite in the seven-horse field, following consecutive victories in the Chip Stakes at Gulfstream Park and an allowance at Aqueduct.

Shine Again is a fourth-generation homebred for Mrs. duPont, and is the first foal out of a talented though lightly raced winning daughter of Two Punch named Shiner. The family has produced a number of notable runners, including graded stakes winner American History and stakes-placed Mari's Book, a son of Northern Dancer whose offspring includes top turf runner Double Booked and graded stakes winning Hot Novel, dam of $4 million-earner Behrens.

In accepting the trophy for Shine Again's victory, a beaming Mrs. duPont stated that she still has Shiner at home. The mare is currently in foal to Forest Wildcat.

Meyerhoff's Include, expected to dominate the Jennings Handicap, had to work a little harder than anticipated to hold off Waited in the stretch, but pulled away to win by more than three lengths with former hometown hero Chris McCarron in the irons. Trained by Bud Delp, Include is scheduled to make his next start in the Pimlico Special. Meyerhoff delights in explaining his breeding philosophy, and points to Include as a prime example. Include combines three crosses of Turn-to (who appears twice in the pedigree of Include's sire Broad Brush and once along the male line of Include's dam Illeria) as well as two occurrences of the important broodmare Hidden Talent. The combination has worked before, for Illeria has also produced Maryland-bred champion Magic Broad to the cover of Broad Brush. Illeria has a yearling colt by Broad Brush, and produced a

Coronado's Quest filly in early March. She is back in foal to Broad Brush.

The biggest surprise of the day came in the Star de Naskra Stakes for 3-year-olds. Jorgie Stover, a son of Press Card and the Smarten mare Smarter dodged runners on his way to win by three-quarters of a length over Smile My Lord. He paid $34.40 in scoring his first stakes victory. Bred by a partnership of James Glenn and Country Life Farm, Jorgie Stover was claimed twice in his brief six-race career and now races for John Alecci. Country Life Farm still owns the colt's dam, having purchased her (barren) for $13,500 at the 1992 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic February mixed sale.

Stakes-placed Smarter, 20, is carrying an Allen's Prospect foal, due to deliver this week.

Caesar's Wish Stakes winner Hunka Hunka Lori Z, bred by Richard Golden from the mare Bunka Bunka, was sold at the 1999 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic fall yearling sale for $7,000. The buyer, Chip Reed, races the 3-year-old Colonial Affair filly in partnership with Mike Zanella.

Although Maryland-breds were absent in the Tesio Stakes, Marciano, a son of Maryland sire Two Punch, was the surprise winner over odds-on choice Burning Roma. Two Punch stands at Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City.