07/10/2008 11:00PM

Maryland: Maddy's Lion claim looking like a Million


Brian Miller, the New Jersey-based owner who runs horses under the name of Silly Goose Racing Stable, has a lion on the prowl.

Trainer Greg Sacco unleashed Miller's game 6-year-old Maryland-bred horse Maddy's Lion to a close victory over New Jersey's reigning sprint star Joey P. in the $75,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes at Monmouth Park on July 5.

It was the fourth time that Maddy's Lion has finished in the top three in stakes competition since Miller claimed him on Jan. 10 at Aqueduct for $35,000.

If all goes according to plan, Maddy's Lion will run in the $100,000 Teddy Drone Stakes at Monmouth on Aug. 3, followed by the Grade 1 $250,000 Forego Handicap on Aug. 30 at Saratoga and then the $300,000 Maryland Million Classic on Oct. 4 at Laurel Park.

The Maryland Million, restricted to eligible Maryland-sired runners, was on Miller's radar when he claimed Maddy's Lion, whose sire, Lion Hearted, stands at Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City, Md.

"We're really looking forward to the Maryland Million - it will be our first one," said Miller, a mortgage banker who has been in the racing business since 2003.

Miller had a $40,000 claim, Prop Me Up, take him all the way to his first Breeders' Cup last fall, and that experience helped to strengthen his Maryland Million hopes for Maddy's Lion.

Maddy's Lion has had four different trainers since Miller acquired him. But the owner believes he has found the right fit with Sacco, who saddled Maddy's Lion for the first time in the Mr. Prospector.

Sacco made only one significant change to Maddy's Lion's regimen - glue-on shoes, applied by Ian McKinlay, the hoof specialist who treated with Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown's foot issues.

"Maddy's Lion has no major issues, just minor ones," said Sacco. "He's a genuine horse, a real pro. The key with him is to keep him happy and let him go out and do his job."

Maddy's Lion has earned $119,210 for Miller, boosting his career earnings to $369,482 from 36 starts, including 20 wins and placings.

Maddy's Lion (out of the Private Terms mare Maddy's Terms) comes from a productive family of runners that has been developed over more than four decades by his breeder, Dennis Federico, and his father, A.J. Federico.

Massachusetts residents who make their livelihood in the construction business, the Federicos are longtime clients of Northview Stallion Station, and its predecessor, E.P. Taylor's Windfields Farm.

Maddy's Lion campaigned as a homebred for Dennis Federico until Miller claimed him. A stakes performer each season from 2 to 4, Maddy's Lion won the 2005 Jimmy Winkfield Stakes and placed in four additional stakes for Federico.

This year's Maryland Million could be a family reunion of sorts for descendants of Tune-Swept (by Tudorka), the matriarch whom A.J. Federico bought as a 3-year-old in 1963.

A stakes-placed runner who won or placed in 43 of 84 career starts, Tune-Swept created a legacy through her stakes-winning granddaughter Maddy's Tune (by Key to the Kingdom).

Maddy's Tune is the granddam of Maddy's Lion and his full sister Maddy's Heart, who won last year's Maryland Million Ladies for the Federicos.

The Federicos hope to bring Maddy's Heart back for this year's Maryland Million. And they may have another Maryland Million contender in Waquoit's Love, a 5-year-old Not for Love mare produced by Maddy's Tune's daughter Waquoit's Tune (by Waquoit).

Waquoit's Love finished a close second (to Stormy West) in Belmont Park's Caress Stakes on June 25 for Dennis Federico and trainer Tim Hills.

The Federicos currently own 10 horses of racing age, but only two broodmares - the 14-year-old Maddy's Terms and Waquoit's Tune, who is 18. Both are boarded year-round at Northview.

Each mare delivered a colt by Dance With Ravens this past spring. Because of late foaling dates, neither was bred back for 2009.