04/12/2007 11:00PM

'Nobiz' product of ideal mating


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Breeding a Kentucky Derby winner is a triumph for any horse owner, and Nobiz Like Shobiz - bred and raced by Elizabeth Valando - will be one of the favorites for this year's running of the Kentucky classic after his victory in the Wood Memorial last Saturday.

Valando and her late husband, Tommy, owned juvenile champion Fly So Free, who ran fifth in the 1991 Kentucky Derby and played an indirect role in the breeding of Nobiz Like Shobiz.

When the Valandos stood Fly So Free at Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky, some of the mares they bought or bred were eventually sent back to the farm as mates for him. One of these was the Storm Cat mare Nightstorm, who was bred by the Valandos.

Elizabeth Valando recalled that the mare received her name because "she is a very dark mare" like her sire and maternal grandsire Halo.

As part of the Valandos' breeding program, Nightstorm's first three foals were all by Fly So Free. And her fourth is Nobiz Like Shobiz, a son of Three Chimneys stallion Albert the Great.

Named for Albert Clay and raced by Tracy Farmer, Albert the Great is by Kentucky Derby winner Go for Gin out of the Fappiano mare Bright Feather.

In choosing this stallion for her mare, Valando said: "Our horse Fly So Free was no longer available, and Leon Rasmussen recommended mating Nightstorm to Albert the Great. Then I ran it by Jack Werk, who has been advising us on breeding for years and thought it was a really good mating. And then the Farmers, who are probably my closest friends in the racing business, own Albert the Great, and that made the decision just that much better."

The decision was a momentous one that has brought Valando to a new pinnacle as an owner-breeder who will start one of the favorites in the Kentucky Derby.

Valando had met the late Leon Rasmussen, a breeding columnist at Daily Racing Form for decades, after an introduction from Sid Fernando, formerly bloodstock editor of Daily Racing Form.

She was especially impressed by Rasmussen's emphasis on inbreeding to superior broodmares, which played a role in this mating.

Werk said: "Mrs. Valando takes breeding very seriously, is very independent-minded, and loves both the sport and her horses. She also believes in pedigree, or she wouldn't be paying this much attention to it. She will listen to advice, but nobody can convince her to do something that she doesn't agree with. She weighs the factors and makes the decision. Horse owners, like CEOs, get the people together, listen to the opinions, and then make up their own minds."

The choice of Albert the Great for the mating also delighted the advisers at Three Chimneys, including Ed Anthony, who likewise concurred that Nightstorm would be an outstanding mate for the stallion.

The foal from the mating was a star from the beginning. A good-sized, robust foal with considerable presence, the colt was named Nobiz Like Shobiz in reference to the Valandos' ties to Broadway and the music business.

Tommy Valando was a producer and music publisher involved with such Broadway hits as "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Cabaret."

And Nobiz Like Shobiz was such a class act that the animated bay colt has further energized his owner's excitement for the sport and has increased the respect of horsemen for his dam and siblings.

Werk said: "Before Nobiz Like Shobiz showed his class, we had been keeping the matings for Nightstorm at $10,000 or less, in part because the mare's dam had not produced any stakes horses. Knowing how good the colt was last fall, Mrs. Valando submitted the mare for approval to Bernardini, and Nightstorm is now in foal to him."

The mare has an unnamed 2-year-old filly by the Gone West stallion Changeintheweather, as well as a yearling colt by Broken Vow. Nightstorm has a chestnut filly at her side by the Unbridled's Song stallion Eurosilver.

If Nobiz Like Shobiz wins the Kentucky Derby, his relatives will become even more valuable. Werk said, "I'm confident that when they get to the last eighth of a mile, where they separate the men from the boys, Nobiz Like Shobiz will show that he has a real classic pedigree."

In assessing classic potential, Werk also advised on the matings that produced Derby prospects Notional and Cowtown Cat. Werk recommended the purchase of Truly Blessed, the dam of Notional, to Scoop Vessels based on Werk's appraisal of her pedigree as a mare "perfect for In Excess," the sire of Notional.

Werk said, "Cowtown Cat was bred on a recommendation for the Gulf Coast Farms partnership of Lance Robinson and Jerry Bailey, who I've advised on pedigrees and matings for years."

With colts like these in the classic, Werk declared with a laugh, "If Nobiz Like Shobiz, Notional, and Cowtown Cat come in one-two-three, I will have the trifecta, and I will retire. Actually, I just hope they all run well."