06/02/2005 11:00PM

Lunachick adds to farm's luster


Maryland's Glade Valley Farms has long held a reputation for breeding solid, classy runners. And a 3-year-old filly named Lunachick is building on that history.

Sold for only $6,000 at the 2003 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale, Lunachick (by Partner's Hero) has earned nearly 12 times that amount in California this season. She became a stakes winner with an apparently effortless victory in the Vallejo Stakes last Sunday at Golden Gate Fields.

Owned by Turf Express Inc. and Robert L. Beck, and trained by Steve Miyadi, the Maryland-bred Lunachick was sent off as the odds-on favorite in the Vallejo, based on her runner-up performance in the Winner's Foundation Sprint Stakes on April 24 at Bay Meadows. With little prompting from rider Russell Baze, she took to the lead in the six-furlong stakes and drew away to win handily by four lengths, earning a 102 Beyer Speed Figure.

The victory brought Lunachick's earnings to $71,625, and improved her record to 3 wins and 2 seconds in 5 starts.

As a great-granddaughter of Dead Reckoning (by First Landing), Lunachick comes from one of Glade Valley's oldest and most productive families. Glade Valley's then managing partner, Dr. Robert A. Leonard, purchased Dead Reckoning as a yearling for $16,000 at the 1971 Eastern fall sale on behalf of J.I.B. Farms, a partnership of himself and Glade Valley co-owner Stanley Bender.

Dead Reckoning produced four stakes winners, three of them by Glade Valley's patriarch, Rollicking, who for many years ranked among Maryland's leading sires. Rollicking, a 1967 son of Rambunctious, was bred and owned by Robert Leonard's wife, Nancy. The Leonards bought Rollicking's dam, Martinetta (by Martins Rullah), at auction as a weanling in 1961 for $2,500.

Dead Reckoning's first foal, Danger Bearing (1975, Rollicking) won or placed in eight stakes, earning $134,986. From a mating with another Maryland-bred stallion, 1983 Preakness winner Deputed Testamony, Danger Bearing in turn produced the stakes-placed runner Bearing Testamony, who is the dam of Lunachick.

Before Lunachick went through the sales ring, Glade Valley had already sold Bearing Testamony for $3,100, barren, at the 2003 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic February mixed sale. Her purchasers, Pennsylvanians Connie and Bob Nesteruk, bred a Cryptoclearance yearling filly from the now 19-year-old mare.

"Lunachick is the end of the line for this family at Glade Valley," said Larry Murray, who manages the farm for owners Howard and Sondra Bender.

When consigned to the yearling sale, Lunachick was not an impressive individual, according to Murray. "She was plain looking," he said. "There was nothing flashy about her." The purchaser of record was Hope Stable.

Glade Valley Farms was established in the 1960's by Robert Leonard, Jack I. Bender (father of Howard Bender), and Col. Harry B. Marcus. It was a major commercial breeding establishment under Leonard's direction until the early 1990's.

Now retired and living with his wife on Maryland's Eastern Shore, Leonard sold his interest in Glade Valley to the Bender family several years ago. The farm has continued to prosper, as an almost exclusively private facility for the Benders. Howard and Sondra Bender were Maryland's breeders of the year in 2001, 2002 ,and 2003.

The Benders own a share in Lunachick's sire, Partner's Hero, who stands at Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City, Md.

Lunachick is the sixth stakes winner from Partner's Hero's four crops of racing age. A Grade 2-winning son of Danzig, Partner's Hero is also part of a long-running Maryland success story. He is a half-brother to Eclipse Award-winning sprinter Safely Kept (by Horatius), out of a famously hard-trying but obscurely bred mare, Safely Home (by Winning Hit).