Updated on 09/17/2011 11:34AM

Maryland breeding: Dr. Brendler an unknown no longer

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The 5-year-old Maryland-bred horse Dr. Brendler ran the race of his life to win the Grade 2 Dixie Stakes before the Preakness Day crowd at Pimlico on May 17.

The Dixie, a Pimlico fixture even older than the Preakness itself, has over the years showcased winning performances by the likes of Equipoise, Whirlaway, Assault, Fort Marcy, and Paradise Creek.

Dr. Brendler, bred and owned by prominent Washington, D.C., lawyer Frank O'Toole, competed against top horses in Ireland earlier in his career. In last year's Dixie, he finished fourth, less than four lengths behind the winner, Strut the Stage. Still, Dr. Brendler was a relative nonentity when he broke from the gate in this year's edition of the Dixie, which is contested at 1 1/8 miles on the turf.

Rain, days and days of it, undoubtedly worked in Dr. Brendler's favor, reducing the number of starters from 10 to six, and offering him his ideal conditions.

"Soft ground and cool weather seems to really help him," said trainer Graham Motion after Dr. Brendler fought his way to a half-length score, paying $39.40 as the longest price in the field.

The victory nearly doubled Dr. Brendler's lifetime earnings to $275,069 from 26 career starts.

Dr. Brendler (by Mr. Prospector's son Distant View, who was a Group 1 winner in England) is the third stakes performer O'Toole has bred and raced from the Irish-bred mare Lady of Vision (by Vision). Purchased as a yearling at the 1988 Goffs sale in Ireland, Lady of Vision won her maiden impressively in her home country and carried O'Toole's colors to a fifth-place finish in the Irish 1000 Guineas before he brought her to the U.S.

Lady of Vision's first foal is Polish Vision, a Polish Numbers gelding who has won or placed in five stakes, and at age 10 is still in competition for O'Toole and trainer Tim Keefe. Her second foal, the 1994 Polish Numbers filly Leading Question, placed in stakes.

O'Toole, who grew up in Blackrock County, Dublin, but has lived in this country since 1960, remains an avid fan of Irish racing. Dr. Brendler, named for O'Toole's Harvard University roommate, who is a renowned urologist at the University of Chicago Medical Center, took O'Toole to the heights of the sport in Ireland two years ago.

After winning the 2000 Guineas Trial (defeating eventual European sprint champion Mozart, over a soft course), Dr. Brendler was hyped as "the little guy's horse" in the 2000 Guineas. "It was amazing," O'Toole said. "He was running against a load of great horses, including [champion] Galileo, and we had this whole entourage following us."

Dr. Brendler finished out of the money in the 2000 Guineas, won by Black Minnaloushe, and out of the money in Galileo's Irish Derby. "After that we found out he was bleeding severely," said O'Toole. "We brought him to this country [in the fall of 2001] so that he could race on Lasix."

The Dixie was Dr. Brendler's third win in the U.S., and his second in a row, following an allowance score, at 1 1/2 miles on the turf, at Keeneland on April 5.

O'Toole has owned horses since 1985, and celebrated his first graded stakes win in the Dixie. Dr. Brendler is one of three horses in training for O'Toole, and Lady of Vision, boarded at Hartwell Farm in Kentucky, is his only broodmare in this country. He also has one mare in Ireland.

Barren for three years after producing Dr. Brendler due to a tear in her uterus, Lady of Vision delivered a full sister to Dr. Brendler in 2002, and has a Chester House colt at her side. She was bred back to Quiet American.