04/22/2009 11:00PM

This may be just start of good times for Legacy

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - There has never been a time quite like the present for Pete Parrella, the owner of Legacy Ranch in Clements, Calif.

The ranch has two young stallions on its roster - Our New Recruit, whose oldest foals are 2-year-olds this year, and Cindago, whose oldest foals are yearlings. If one of those has early success, Legacy could be a destination spot for mare owners in coming years.

On the racetrack, Legacy Ranch is in the midst of its best run. Including horses owned with partners, Legacy is on a five-race winning streak since March 7, and has won with eight of its last nine starters since Jan. 30. The highlight was Sweet August Moon's victory in the Grade 3 Las Flores Handicap at Santa Anita on April 5.

"I've never had a run like that," Parrella said.

The winning streak began with Sweet August Moon's win in the Honest Lady Stakes at Santa Anita on March 7, and had a double on March 21 when If It Stays Fair won a $40,000 claimer at Santa Anita and Jiggly won an optional claimer at Golden Gate Fields. It continued when Phantom Wildcat won a maiden race at Santa Anita and with Sweet August Moon's win in the Las Flores.

The success will get a stern test on Saturday when If It Stays Fair starts in the $150,000 Khaled Stakes for statebreds at Hollywood Park and Jiggly starts in an optional claimer at Golden Gate Fields.

If It Stays Fair will need to run a career-best performance to win the Khaled Stakes. Fifth in the 2007 California Cup Juvenile in his first start for Parrella and trainer Brian Koriner, If It Stays Fair was turned out for 13 months following that race. He has won 2 of 4 starts since his comeback.

As thrilled as he is about the horse's recent success, Parrella is quick to note that If It Stays Fair began his comeback on Legacy's training track under the direction of farm trainer Shaun Hadley. So did, Jiggly, Phantom Wildcat, and Sweet August Moon after they were given breaks.

"We stopped on them for many reasons, brought them home and gave them two months to six months off," he said. "They've all come off our racetrack. That's a good indication of what Shaun and his staff can do. I'm kind of tooting my own horn a little bit."

The new stallions offer Legacy Ranch ample promise. Our New Recruit, a 10-year-old by Alphabet Soup, won the 2004 Golden Shaheen Stakes in Dubai and finished his career with 6 wins in 19 starts and earnings of $1,470,914. He stands for $3,500.

Cindago, a 6-year-old by Indian Charlie, won 2 of 3 starts in a career cut short by injury. He won the El Cajon Stakes at Del Mar in 2006 and stands for $2,500. Both stallions are owned by Lee and Susan Searing, who race as CRK Stables.

Parrella, 65, said he brought 12 mares from Kentucky to breed to those stallions this year. He said the early foals of both stallions have caught his eye.

"I've been in the game 25 years and I think I know a little bit about what a good yearling or 2-year-old looks like," he said. "We've committed to both of those stallions. We think we'll come up with some runners."

Sweet August Moon gave Legacy Ranch and co-owner Shirley MacPherson their first graded stakes win with Thoroughbreds in the Las Flores. The victory earned Sweet August Moon a break at Legacy Ranch. Parrella has his eye on bringing her back for the $150,000 A Gleam Handicap at Hollywood Park on July 18. The Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 6 is a long-term goal.

"She's home right now," Parrella said. "We thought this was a good time to freshen her up. She's sound."

Parrella began his involvement in racing with Quarter Horses at Los Alamitos in the 1980s, owning such major stakes winners as Griswold, one of the finest 870-yard runners in history, and the major stakes winner Apprehend.

About the same time, he began investing in Thoroughbreds, and had success with the California-bred His Legacy, who won three runnings of the California Cup Starter Handicap in the early 1990s. Both Griswold, 23, and His Legacy, 24, reside as pensioners at Legacy Ranch.

In the last decade, Parrella's involvement has shifted toward Thoroughbred racing, though he still has Quarter Horses. The ranch moved from Chino, Calif., in Southern California, to Clements, Calif. in 2005, about the same time that Parrella began serving as Treasurer of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association.

In business, Parrella owns a lumber company in Chino.

His involvement in that business and his breeding operation has given Parrella a first-hand account of the difficulties facing horse owners. Both of the young stallions will have 30 to 35 mares this year, a figure lower than Parrella would prefer.

"This is discretionary income for most people," he said of investing in Thoroughbred racing. "The horse business is taking a pretty good hit."

A bonus program recently launched by the Thoroughbred Owners of California and the CTBA that pays owners whose California-breds win a maiden special weight race in the state is seen as a potential financial boost. Owners whose horses win such races in Southern California receive $20,000, while the bonus is worth $10,000 to the winning owner of a similar race in Northern California. There are signs it has enticed some breeders to stay in the game, Parrella said.

"Some of the breeders have decided to breed their mares," Parrella said. "Hopefully, it will keep some people in the business."

Those that do stay must contend with Parrella's runners, who have been a hit this year.