10/06/2006 12:00AM

Maryland Million Classic finale for Cherokee's Boy

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Maryland stallions will be on center stage this weekend as the focus shifts to Laurel Park for the 21st running of the Maryland Million. The 12-race card, to be run on Oct. 14, is restricted to offspring of Maryland-resident stallions who are nominated to the Maryland Million. When pre-entries closed last Wednesday, 68 horses were listed, representing 42 Maryland sires.

The richest runner on the list is millionaire Cherokee's Boy, who is cross-entered in the biggest race on the program, the $250,000 Maryland Million Classic, and the $150,000 Maryland Million Sprint, in which he finished a fast-closing second last year. Foard Wilgis, the horse's co-owner along with David Picarello, said that 6-year-old Cherokee's Boy will contest the Classic, which is expected to be the final start of the durable runner's career before he heads off to stud at Maryland Stallion Station in Glyndon, Md.

Named Maryland-bred horse of the year for 2005 after winning five stakes and placing in three others in 12 starts, Cherokee's Boy is seeking his third stakes win this year. He most recently won the 1 1/8-mile DTHA Owner's Day Handicap at Delaware Park on Sept. 9.

The leading earner for Country Life Farm's retired sire Citidancer, Cherokee's Boy found Maryland Million success early in his career, gaining his first stakes victory in the Maryland Million Nursery in 2002 on his way to earning statebred championship honors. Trained by Gary Capuano throughout his career, Cherokee's Boy added 13 more stakes wins to his resume over five seasons of competition, and with a career mark of 19 wins, 10 seconds (seven in stakes), and 8 thirds (seven stakes) from 47 starts, he has earnings of $1,170,446.

Cherokee's Boy ranks 13th on the list of all-time leading Maryland-bred money-earners, ahead of another durable runner, Dave's Friend. Cherokee's Boy would leap three spots on the list if he wins the Classic.

Maryland Stallion Station president Don Litz noted that Cherokee's Boy, who will stand his first season for $2,500, should appeal to many breeders: "He has a pedigree that is highly representative - the Northern Dancer sire line and a classy female family, plus he's free of Mr. Prospector and Raise a Native - and he has been as versatile a racehorse as you could find."

Out of the multiple-stakes-winning mare Cherokee Wonder (by Cherokee Colony, a son of Pleasant Colony), Cherokee's Boy is from the family of 2006 Grade 1 winner and older female handicap division leader Fleet Indian, whose dam is a half-sister to Cherokee Wonder.

Cherokee's Boy is one of nine Maryland Million winners pre-entered this year. The others are Deer Run (2002 Sprint), Drum Roll Please (2004 Sprint Starter), Hunca Munca (2004 Distaff Starter), Namequest (2004 Turf Sprint), Silmaril (2004 Oaks), Smart and Fancy (2005 Lassie), Sticky (2005 Oaks), and Surf Light (2005 Ladies).

The leading sire of pre-entered runners is Not for Love, with 23. Not for Love, who stands at Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City, has seen the most success on Maryland Million Day in recent years, with eight winners since 2002, including three consecutive winners of the Maryland Million Sprint. Of the 11 pre-entered for this year's Sprint, four are sons of Not for Love.

An incentive for Deputy Storm

Using an approach novel to the region, Northview Stallion Station has announced an incentive plan that could earn one breeder $50,000 for supporting the farm's young Forestry stallion Deputy Storm in 2007.

"We've never done anything like this before," said Richard Golden, Northview's co-founder and managing partner. "But we love this horse, and want to give him a shot at becoming successful."

Northview will pay out the $50,000 to the breeder of Deputy Storm's first foal to earn $100,000, accrued in any manner (from claiming races to stakes), but as calculated and published by Daily Racing Form.

"We've set it up in a way that someone can win," added Golden.

Deputy Storm will stand next season for $3,500 live foal.

Now 5, Deputy Storm won the Tyro Stakes at Monmouth Park during his 2-year-old season, and the King Cotton Stakes at Oaklawn Park at 4. Blazingly fast, Deputy Storm set the early fractions en route to placing in the Grade 2 Hutcheson and Grade 3 Sapling stakes. An earner of $183,465 from 11 starts, he is the second stakes winner produced from his champion dam, Deputy Jane West (by Silver Deputy). The first was juvenile stakes winner Bag Lady Jane.