03/31/2006 12:00AM

New career peak for Dean


Don Dean is a spiritual man who has interwoven a passion for horse racing with a cause for helping others. So it wasn't surprising that Dean, the former president of the Race Track Chaplaincy of America, was attending the Race Track Chaplaincy's annual meeting in Houston, Tex., on the day of his biggest score as a breeder.

What Dean missed at Laurel Park on March 25 was the astounding win by Triple Crown nominee Our Peak in the Private Terms Stakes. Off at 73-1 in the one-mile event, Our Peak rallied from well back in the field of 11 3-year-olds to score by a neck under apprentice Rosie Napravnik. Our Peak is trained by Katy Voss for Wayne Harrison's Twin Oaks Stable.

Of the 11 Maryland-breds nominated to this year's Triple Crown, a group that includes San Felipe Stakes runner-up Point Determined, Our Peak is the first to record a stakes victory. He is also the first stakes winner bred by Dean.

Dean became a horse owner in the mid-1980's following a devastating tragedy, a car accident that claimed the lives of his wife and one of his children. With the guidance of veterinarian and breeder Jim Stewart, Dean, who had grown up around horses as a youngster, became the owner of Mt. Airy Momma. Dean and his five children found an outlet for their grief by following the career of their new purchase.

A daughter of Thirty Eight Places, Mt. Airy Momma didn't turn out to be much of a racehorse, but found success as a broodmare. Her six foals who have started are all winners. Dean still owns Mt. Airy Momma, who is now 21 and in foal to Black Tie Affair.

Dean once again turned to Stewart and purchased Still Our Frisky, a mare who was in foal to solid Maryland stallion Oh Say. The foal born in the spring of 1995 was Our Saydee, a filly who became an allowance winner and placed in two stakes at Mountaineer Park at age 5.

"Saydee always tried hard," said Dean. "She had such courage and character."

Our Saydee retired after competing five seasons, and with the assistance of bloodstock advisors in Kentucky, Dean bred Our Saydee to Peaks and Valleys.

"Our Saydee was really sound, and so was Peaks and Valleys," said Dean.

The result was Our Peak.

While Dean generally breeds to race, he notes, "You have to sell some to keep it going." Our Peak was consigned with agent Bill Reightler to the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale, but failed to meet his $19,000 reserve. Harrison purchased Our Peak privately after the sale.

Our Saydee next produced a Partner's Hero colt, whom Dean sold at the 2005 fall yearling sale for $7,000, with Mayberry and Rudman signing the ticket. Sadly, Our Saydee colicked and died while in foal to Distinctive Pro in 2005.

"This is a tough business. But these kind of things balance it out," Dean said, referring to the stakes win by Our Peak.

Dean currently owns six broodmares, keeping four at Cross Ties Farm in Sykesville, Md., with Susan Dunham, and boarding two in Kentucky. Since last year, Dean has also had success with Unbridled Grace, an Unbridled Jet filly who is stakes-placed and recently scored her second career win, in an allowance March 12. Dean, whose broodmare band is generally made up of older mares, purchased Unbridled Grace's stakes-winning dam, Tax Dodge, in December 2000, when she was 19. Tax Dodge is a daughter of Seattle Slew.

"I've gotten good genes when purchasing older broodmares," said Dean.

Dean's ties to the Race Track Chaplaincy began at Penn National in the 1980's, when he had horses with trainer Steve Brown. When Dean, a lobbyist in Washington, moved his horses to Charles Town to be closer to his home in Potomac, Md., he helped found a chapter of the Race Track Chaplaincy at that track and became the chapter's president in 1998. Dean eventually became president at the national level in 2002.

Dean has also been instrumental in the Maryland division of the Race Track Chaplaincy and is busy promoting a banquet and auction to be held at 6 p.m. on April 22 at Pimlico. Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day and Jockey Club executive director Dan Fick are the featured speakers.