02/20/2004 1:00AM

Nearly 20 later, lightning strikes again


It has been nearly 20 years since Kattegat's Pride ended her storied racing career in Maryland. One of the finest Maryland-bred mares to appear in the 1980's, Kattegat's Pride (North Sea-Pilgrim's Pride, by First Landing) won or placed in 18 stakes, earning $511,812.

Her career was a life-altering experience for Harford County, Md., residents Steve and Sue Quick, who came up with her in their first attempt at breeding a race horse.

"We thought, 'This is an easy job. All you have to do is pick the right mating,' " said Sue Quick.

The Quicks immediately set about developing a sizable breeding and boarding operation at their St. Omer's Farm, and they have campaigned some consistent winners since then. But having another runner like Kattegat's Pride had almost become a forgotten dream. That is, until last weekend at Laurel Park, when the Quicks' 3-year-old filly Silmaril - a granddaughter of Kattegat's Pride - charged from last to first and dominated Maryland-bred rivals to win the Jameela Stakes at odds of 10-1. Silmaril won the stakes in her fourth career start and is "really beginning to peak," according to Sue Quick.

Bred in partnership with Christopher J. Feifarek, a Towson, Md., radiologist, Silmaril (by Diamond) is named for the "great jewels" of the J.R.R. Tolkien stories. Her dam Kattebuck (a foal of 1988 by Spend a Buck) is Kattegat's Pride's only daughter.

"Kattegat's Pride was not made to be a broodmare," said Quick, noting that the mare had only four foals, none of them distinguished on the racetrack. Kattebuck, a winner in one of her 16 starts, earned $14,419 and was the best of the lot. Kattegat's Pride, now 25, has been a pensioner at the Quicks' farm for the past several years.

Kattebuck, although a more reliable producer than her dam, made no special impact as a broodmare until Silmaril, her fifth foal, came along. Currently one of a dozen broodmares in production for the Quicks, Kattebuck has a yearling colt by Our Emblem and is booked this season to Diamond.

How good will Silmaril turn out to be? That's still an open question, in the opinion of her trainer, Chris Grove. "We hope and think she will go long; her granddam could go long. But we won't know until she tries," said Grove, who added that his short-term goal for the filly is the 1 1/16-mile Caesar's Wish Stakes, against Maryland-breds, on April 24 at Pimlico.

Silmaril received her early education from Jean Rofe at the Middleburg Training Center, and was "well-schooled," in his words, when she joined Grove's stable in early August.

The Quicks, who have six horses in training with three different trainers, typically do not race their 2-year-olds. "But she was ready," said Quick. Silmaril won her maiden in her second start, a maiden special weight at Laurel on Dec. 11. She led up to the Jameela with a fourth-place finish in the Marshua Stakes on Jan. 3. "She ran green in that race," said Grove. "It was the first time she had dirt hit her in the face."

Having Silmaril's breakout performance come in the 22nd running of Jameela Stakes also carried special meaning for the Quicks. Jameela was a two-time Maryland-bred horse of the year (1981 and 1982), bred and raced during the early part of her career by the Quicks' friend and neighbor Betty Worthington. The first Maryland-bred performer to pass the million-dollar mark in earnings, Jameela gained lasting influence as the dam of Gulch.

"Betty [Worthington] presented the trophy to us," said Quick. "It was really a wonderful afternoon."