03/21/2003 1:00AM

McClelland era remembered fondly


From King Maple to Gandria, the Donald "D.G." McClelland era in Canadian horse racing and breeding was long and successful.

Another Woodbine season is beginning this weekend, but the local industry lost one of its most influential members when McClelland died in January at the age of 82.

In a half-century of raising his own Thoroughbreds, McClelland, with the help of his family, bred dozens of stakes winners at his Farm on a Hill in King City, Ontario.

McClelland also developed a commercial breeding program that was one of the most successful and longstanding in the history of the local yearling sales.

"It was an economic necessity to be market breeders," said Ian McClelland, one of five McClelland children. "By and large, a number of the ones we raced were ones that we were left with."

King Maple, a son of the McClelland foundation mare Noon Maid, won 11 stakes races, from ages 2 to 5. He had 19 victories in 63 starts and was named the 1953 Canadian Horse of the Year for McMacken Stables.

McClelland was an active member of the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society and a president of the organization in the 1970's. He was on the board of directors of the Jockey Club of Canada when he died.

Among the McClelland-bred stakes winners in the late 1950's and early 1960's were Real Sensible, who was trained by Jerry Meyer and won stakes at 2, Rhythm Sal, Grand Passion, and Greek Salt.

In 1983, McClelland sold a Le Fabuleux colt out of Jansum Regal to Ernie Samuel for $77,000 at the Woodbine yearling sale. Named Dauphin Fabuleux, the colt became one of Samuel's first champions, winning four major stakes races as a 2-year-old and earning Horse of the Year honors.

In 1989, Jansum Regal provided McClelland with his best racehorse when she foaled Myrtle Irene, a daughter of Commemorate. A small horse, Myrtle Irene won 14 of 42 starts, five stakes races, and earned more than $713,000.

"Myrtle revitalized our farm," said Ian McClelland. "We were able to do a lot of repairs, put an extension on our arena, build new fences, and clean up some fields."

One of the most popular horses bred by McClelland in recent years was champion 3-year-old filly Gandria, who earned more than $665,000 and won the 1999 Prince of Wales Stakes for Arosa Farms.

In January 2003, the McClellands sold all but one of the family's mares, including Myrtle Irene. Its remaining seven yearlings, which will be sold in September, may be the last consignment for the McClelland dynasty.

Canadian-bred tops sale

A filly by American Chance, bred in Ontario by Taylor Made Farm Inc., topped last week's Ocala Breeders' Sales March 2-year-old sale at $350,000. The dark bay filly was foaled at Vera Simpson's Curraghmore Farm in Waterdown and was a $40,000 yearling purchase at last fall's Keeneland September sale by trainer Mark Casse.

"She has as good a walk as any horse you'll ever see," Casse told The Blood-Horse. "And that walk carried onto the racetrack. She's Canadian-bred, which makes her eligible for a tremendous program."

Team Valor's Barry Irwin, who raced Canadian champion 2-year-old Added Edge last year, bought the filly on the recommendation of Casse, who trains Added Edge.