03/30/2007 12:00AM

Jambalaya's win ignites hot start for home team

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - It has been a memorable start to 2007, as Canadian-breds have won Grade 1, 2, and 3 races at three racetracks since the beginning of the year.

Jambalaya, owned by Kingfield Farms, won the Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Turf Handicap on Feb. 24 to become the first Canadian-bred, -owned, and -based horse to win a Grade 1 at the prestigious Gulfstream winter meeting since Mt. Sassafras won the Gulfstream Park Handicap 10 years ago.

Formal Gold, one of the fastest horses bred in this country, won the 1997 Donn Handicap, but the son of Black Tie Affair was American owned and based.

Jambalaya, who won the Breeders' Stakes at Woodbine in 2005, was winless through an unlucky 2006 campaign but relished the firm Gulfstream turf and won an exciting stretch duel with the tough mare Honey Ryder after some traffic trouble on the last turn.

A Langfuhr-Muskrat Suzie gelding, Jambalaya was bred by Gus Schickedanz and bought for just $2,500 (Canadian) as a yearling. He was scheduled to run again in Saturday's Pan American Handicap at Gulfstream.

Dr. Brian Van Arem, who has a veterinary practice at Woodbine and owns TnT Racing in Palgrave, Ontario, is the proud owner of Muskrat Suzie, having purchased the mare for $7,500 (Canadian) at the 2003 Woodbine winter mixed sale.

"She was a Vice Regent mare in foal to Langfuhr and she had a couple of other foals by him, so I was gambling that one of them would be good," said Van Arem.

The gamble paid off with the emergence of Jambalaya, the mare's fifth foal. The first TnT foal bred from the mare, a 3-year-old full brother to Jambalaya named Mustfuhr, is also showing plenty of ability in his training at Woodbine.

The mare has a 2-year-old by Johnannesburg named Gauteng in training at Payson Park in Florida. Van Arem sold 75 percent of Mustfuhr and Gauteng to Bru-Mel Stables.

The mare has a Whiskey Wisdom yearling and is in foal to Johannesburg, and has a planned mating later this spring to Vindication.

The two other graded stakes wins by Canadian-breds came on March 24 when Maryfield (Elusive Quality-Sly Maid) changed her running style and rallied to win the Grade 2 Distaff Breeders' Cup at Aqueduct and Sealy Hill won the Grade 3 Bourbonette Stakes at Turfway Park.

Maryfield broke slowly in the six-furlong race but rallied past the tiring speed, which included yet another Canadian-bred, Candy Box, owned by Stronach Stables, to win her first graded stakes.

A 5-year-old mare, Maryfield was bred by Mike Carroll and John C. Harvey Jr. in Ontario and was an $80,000 (U.S.) yearling purchase by Jim and Alice Sapara. The Saparas lost Maryfield for $50,000 claiming at Santa Anita last January.

Maryfield's dam, Sly Maid, a stakes-placed daughter of Desert Wine (also the broodmare sire of 2005 Queen's Plate winner Wild Desert), was bought by Carroll and Harvey in foal to Lord Avie in 1997 for $50,000 (U.S.). Her last reported foal was to live was the 2002 colt Sly Illusion, a winner.

Sealy Hill, owned and bred by Eugene Melnyk, is out of the brilliant mare Boston Twist, who raced at Woodbine for Bill Schettine and won 3 of 5 races, including the Glorious Song Stakes. The mare had two other foals, including a 2-year-old of this year by Silver Deputy, and then died in 2006.

There were a parade of other noteworthy Canadian-bred winners in the first three months of 2007, including Buffalo Man, who won two stakes in Florida this winter before suffering an injury that knocked him off the Kentucky Derby and Queen's Plate trail; Twilight Meteor, the winter book favorite for the Queen's Plate who won the Hallandale Beach Stakes at Gulfstream; and the stakes winner Homesteader. Reata's Rocket and Cobrador were stakes-placed this winter.