11/28/2003 1:00AM

Louis Quatorze joins state stallion roster


Two of Maryland's leading breeding farms were looking to fill a niche, and both have succeeded.

Preakness Stakes winner Louis Quatorze will stand the 2004 season at Allen and Audrey Murray's Murmur Farm in Darlington, Md. The Pons family's Country Life Farm is replenishing its sire ranks with Parker's Storm Cat, who joins another first-year stallion, No Armistice, at the farm in Bel Air, Md.

It is welcome news for farms whose headlines the past two years resulted in losses for the Maryland breeding industry.

Two years ago, the Murrays acquired the young stallion Our Emblem out of Kentucky and went on a magical ride through the Triple Crown of 2002, as Our Emblem's son War Emblem won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. The Murrays' score resulted in Our Emblem standing only one season in Maryland - they couldn't refuse the $10 million offered for Our Emblem, who promptly returned to Kentucky.

Louis Quatorze comes to Maryland with lofty credentials. A multi-millionaire, he had a superb career on the track, winning four graded stakes and missing by a nose in the 1996 Breeders' Cup Classic. Louis Quatorze sired Repent, a millionaire who won four graded stakes, in the first of his three crops, and the Murrays are excited about Louis Quatorze's immediate future. After standing at Ashford Stud in Kentucky, Louis Quatorze has been shuttling between the U.S. and Argentina since entering stud in 1998.

"He has approximately 400 offspring coming to the races," said Audrey Murray. "And he was bred to very good mares after Repent."

The Murrays purchased Louis Quatorze from Ashford and are in the process of syndicating him into 30 shares. With little marketing, there has been a lot of interest in the $15,000 shares, says Murray. A big, attractive son of Sovereign Dancer, Louis Quatorze has settled in nicely at Murmur.

"We couldn't pass up the opportunity to get him," said Murray of Louis Quatorze, who will stand for $6,000 live foal, payable when the foal stands and nurses.

Country Life Farm's newest addition, Parker's Storm Cat, will be attempting to build on his family's reputation. A 3-year-old son of Storm Cat, Parker's Storm Cat is a half-brother to Malibu Moon, the former Country Life stallion who exploded onto the freshmen sires list this summer and was relocated to Kentucky to stand in 2004. The same week Malibu Moon left Country Life Farm in September, top sire Allen's Prospect, who stood his entire career at the farm, was put down.

For the Pons family, the 2004 breeding season is "like building a football team," said Mike Pons. "We will have fun with two young prospects."

Parker's Storm Cat, out of Group 1 winner Macoumba (by Mr. Prospector), looks very much like Storm Cat.

"A chip off dad's block," said Pons. "He's one of the best-made Storm Cats I've seen. When people come to see him, they will like him. He was very athletic and had plenty of speed - the same attributes as Malibu Moon."

Pons also said that B. Wayne Hughes, Parker's Storm Cat's breeder, who will retain half-interest, always thought highly of Parker's Storm Cat and named him after his late son.

"Mr. Hughes is sending terrific mares to Parker's Storm Cat," says Pons. "Parker's Storm Cat looks very mature, as did Malibu Moon [who entered stud at age 3]. He is very smart and was easy to train. We are tickled to get him - it is a tough market to find good, attractive young sires. Both our new guys fit the bill."

Pons hopes Parker's Storm Cat will have a first book of 75 mares.

Country Life has another new stallion. No Armistice, a sprinting son of Unbridled, will stand for $3,000 live foal, payable when the foal stands and nurses.