07/28/2005 11:00PM

Nittany Express gives a boost to Xanthus Farms

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Pennsylvania's Day at the Races, July 23 at Philadelphia Park, boosted the fortunes of many state-breds. But it was a special boon to the connections of the 4-year-old gelding Nittany Express.

Nittany Express put an exciting finish on the 1 1/16-mile Iroquois Handicap, one of six stakes restricted to Pennsylvania-breds on the card. Bet down to near even-money in the field of five, Nittany Express rallied furiously from off the pace under jockey Thomas Clifton and nipped multiple stakes winner Yo by a head at the wire.

Nittany Express not only got his first stakes win, but also became the first stakes winner for his sire, Quarry. Nittany Express is from the first crop of Quarry, a son of Forty Niner who stands at Barbara and Ron Rickline's Xanthus Farms near Gettysburg, Pa.

Xanthus Farms also bred Nittany Express.

"He's the first stakes winner we've bred by a home stallion," said Barbara Rickline.

Nittany Express was twice stakes-placed in statebred company before the Iroquois. He now boasts earnings of $140,573, with 6 wins in 18 starts.

"He's a nice horse who tries hard; he gets up and goes to work every day," said trainer Todd Beattie, who bought Nittany Express privately as a 3-year-old, after he had made his first start. Beattie campaigns Nittany Express under the name of Green Eyed Stable, a partnership of himself, Dennis Sweigart, and Randy Schwalm.

Xanthus Farms, one of Pennsylvania's largest commercial facilities, sold Nittany Express as a weanling to local owner and trainer Robert Szeyller in a private transaction. Beattie acquired the gelding from Szeyller.

But naturally, the Ricklines have followed the career of Nittany Express intently. Xanthus still owns his dam, Parfait Noir, a daughter of onetime Pennsylvania sire Parfaitement. The Ricklines bought Parfait Noir privately at the end of her racing career.

"She had stayed on our farm as a layup, and I had always liked her," said Barbara Rickline.

Parfait Noir, a foal of 1989, wasn't accomplished on the racetrack, failing to win in five starts over two seasons. But she is the dam of two stakes performers. Before Nittany Express came along, she produced five foals, including the gelding Imprints in Gold (1998, Digamist), a stakes-placed earner of $262,662. Her Clash by Night yearling colt was sold by Xanthus and subsequently died in a paddock accident. Parfait Noir has a weanling colt by Duckhorn and is in foal to Van Nistelrooy.

Rickline had high hopes from the beginning for the mating between Parfait Noir and Quarry. Boasting an exquisite pedigree, Quarry is out of the Nijinsky II mare Bound, from the family of Sadler's Wells, Nureyev, Fairy King, and Number. He came to Xanthus late in the fall of 1999, after a modest career on the racetrack (14 starts, 3 wins, earnings of $33,080). Quarry's owner, Alydar International, originally had intended to stand him in Australia, Rickline said.

"But he was so thin at the time, it didn't seem like a good idea to ship him," she said. "We were happy to get him, and at the time he was the only son of Forty Niner in this area."

His late arrival gave Xanthus little time to advertise him, and Quarry has only 19 foals in his first crop. Four of them are winners.

Xanthus, established 22 years ago by the Ricklines, offered four other stallions for the 2005 breeding season: Company Approval (by With Approval), Digamist (by Blushing Groom), Duckhorn (by Not For Love), and Lil's Lad (by Pine Bluff). The farm maintains about 25 broodmares of its own and provides foaling services for outside mares, regardless of whether or not they are bred back to Xanthus stallions. Other Xanthus specialties are year-round boarding and sales-prepping.