09/09/2004 11:00PM

Local products surprise in two Grade 2 stakes


Slots or no slots, Maryland continues to produce runners of exceptional quality.

That point was underscored last week when two Maryland-bred colts rose up and won Grade 2 stakes within a three-day span. Each of the new stars was sired in Maryland, locally raised, and sold at Maryland's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale.

Love of Money (by leading Maryland sire Not for Love) led the charge with an unexpectedly forceful 8 1/2-length score over an accomplished field of 3-year-olds in the $750,000 Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 6 at Philadelphia Park.

Then Declan's Moon, a blue ribbon-getter at the 2003 Maryland Horse Breeders Association yearling show, judged by Barclay Tagg, outdueled previously undefeated Roman Ruler to win the Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 8 at Del Mar.

Both runners are owned by Jay Em Ess Stable (Jan and Samantha Siegel), whose California-based operation has been among the top buyers at Maryland auctions over the last two decades. The Siegels bankrolled $600,000 with the two wins.

Love of Money, who defeated the likes of Pollard's Vision, Tapit and My Snookie's Boy to win the Pennsylvania Derby, was making his fourth career start, first stakes attempt, and first try around two turns.

Purchased by the Siegels for $70,000, and trained by New York-based Richard Dutrow, Love of Money made his racing debut in June at Belmont Park, scoring by six lengths in a maiden special weight, and led up to the Pennsylvania Derby with a six-length victory in allowance company at Saratoga on Aug. 12.

He was bred in partnership by former MHBA president Tom Bowman and his wife, Chris; Mr. and Mrs. Tom Sutton; and Milton P. Higgins III. Tom Bowman and Higgins bought Love of Money's dam, the Smarten mare Mescalina, as a yearling for $18,000 at the 1994 Keeneland January sale.

"She was a good-looking yearling, and we hoped she'd do well enough as a racehorse that we could keep her as a broodmare," said Bowman. A winner of $67,385, Mescalina produced Love of Money as her fourth foal. Her first foal was Astrid (a 1998 filly by Concern), a two-time stakes winner of $242,539.

Mescalina has an Our Emblem yearling colt who is consigned to next month's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale, and a weanling colt by Two Punch. She is not in foal for 2005, but is booked to Silver Charm.

Declan's Moon, a $125,000 yearling, is part of a continuing success story for his breeder, Brice Ridgely of Spring Meadow Farm in Cooksville, Md. The saga began eight years ago when Ridgely bought Fabulous Vee (by Somethingfabulous) and her weanling filly Vee Vee Star (by Norquestor) for $3,500 after spotting an ad for them in the newspaper.

Vee Vee Star finished third to champion Silverbulletday in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes and earned $60,895 before retiring to Ridgely's small broodmare band. Declan's Moon is her second foal. Her yearling colt by Unbridled Jet is consigned to the Eastern fall sale. She has a 2004 Partner's Hero colt.

Declan's Moon, trained by Ron Ellis, had only one start before the Del Mar Futurity, a five-length maiden special score at Del Mar on July 31. He is by Malibu Moon, who moved from Maryland's Country Life Farm to Kentucky last fall based upon the success of another California-based Maryland-bred, multiple graded winner Perfect Moon, who finished third in last year's Del Mar Futurity.