03/22/2007 11:00PM

Les Arcs reaps honors for European success


The English-based Les Arcs, who began his 6-year-old season as a relative unknown on both sides of the Atlantic, produced two remarkable efforts within 21 days during the summer of 2006. His victories in the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot and the July Cup at Newmarket, both Group 1 races on the turf, netted Les Arcs not only the majority of his $855,075 in earnings for the year, but also the titles of Maryland-bred horse of the year, champion older horse, champion turf horse, and champion sprinter in the annual poll conducted by the Maryland Horse Breeders Association.

It is not unprecedented for a runner who made all his starts outside the United States to be named statebred horse of the year. El Gran Senor pulled off the feat after being named Europe's champion 3-year-old in 1984.

Les Arcs launched his championship season with four consecutive wins, three on all-weather tracks, during the winter and early spring of 2006. Owned by Willie McKay and trained by Tim Pitt, Les Arcs also won the Cammidge Trophy Stakes at Redcar. All 10 starts he made in 2006 were at five or six furlongs.

Maryland's leading earner of 2006, Les Arcs was bred by James Moran's Elk Manor Farm in North East, Md. Out of the Cormorant mare La Sarto, Les Arcs was sold by Moran at the Keeneland September yearling sale for $140,000 to John Ferguson, who bought him on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin Racing. When Les Arcs didn't make the grade in the vast Godolphin operation, he was sent to the Tattersalls autumn horses in training sale as a 3-year-old, where he was purchased by McKay for approximately $63,000.

Only two 2006 Maryland-bred champions were unanimously selected by a panel of seven Maryland racing writers - Les Arcs, for his turf title, and the older filly or mare Promenade Girl.

Promenade Girl, a homebred daughter of Carson City owned by Sondra and Howard Bender, won three times and was third twice in eight outings last year at 4, earning $344,300. Her most impressive performance came when she battled last year's Breeders' Cup Distaff winner, Round Pond, through Monmouth Park's stretch to win the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher BC Handicap by a head.

The tightest race for top honors came in the 3-year-old male division, with trainer King T. Leatherbury's homebred Ah Day edging out graded stakes winner Point Determined for the championship.

Ah Day, who races in the name of Leatherbury's The Jim Stable, won seven times (six stakes) and placed in four stakes over a 15-start campaign, earning $455,560. A durable son of Malibu Moon, Ah Day made his 3-year-old debut on Jan. 1, 2006, and raced at least once a month for 11 consecutive months. He won at distances from six furlongs to 1 1/8 miles and was most impressive when he captured Pimlico's Federico Tesio Stakes by 5 1/2 lengths.

Maryland Million Day victories proved the deciding factor in the selection of juvenile champions Clifton Park and Spectacular Malibu.

Clifton Park, bred by Tom and Chris Bowman, Dr. Laura Schrock, and the Allen's Prospect Syndicate, was sold as a weanling at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic December mixed sale for $34,000 to Tom and Connie D'Ambra, of Clifton Park, N.Y.

Clifton Park, a colt from the final crop of Allen's Prospect, made three starts at 2, winning back-to-back stakes at Laurel the Oliver's Twist and Maryland Million Juvenile in front-running fashion.

Spectacular Malibu was bred by the late trainer Charlie Hadry and his wife, Connie, and purchased privately by the Pons family's Country Life Farm.

In four starts at 2, Spectacular Malibu won twice, including the Maryland Million Lassie, and was second in the other two - the Grade 3 Tempted at Aqueduct and the Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship. She is from the final Maryland crop of the now Kentucky-based Malibu Moon. Both Allen's Prospect and Malibu Moon stood at Country Life Farm in Bel Air, Md.

The champion 3-year-old filly, Robert Hahn's homebred Livermore Valley, won or placed in seven of her nine starts, six of them stakes. A two-time stakes winner in New Jersey, Livermore Valley, a daughter of Mt. Livermore out of Maryland-bred champion Secret Prospect, was Grade 1-placed when third in the Prioress BC.

Steeplechase writer Joe Clancy chose Good Night Shirt, owned by Sonny and Ann Via, as the steeplechase champion. A son of a Maryland-bred horse of the year Concern, who formerly stood at Northview Stallion Station, Good Night Shirt was bred by the Bowmans. Last year at age 5, Good Night Shirt won or placed in four graded steeplechase stakes.