03/07/2003 12:00AM

Nobody doesn't like Magic Weisner


Magic Weisner, who gained national attention when he finished second in the Preakness Stakes, was the unanimous choice as 2002 Maryland-bred horse of the year.

Also named champion 3-year-old male, Magic Weisner (by Ameri Valay) was the leading Maryland-bred earner of 2002, with $791,000, after winning or placing in 7 of his 8 starts. Bred, owned, and trained by Nancy Alberts, Magic Weisner, a gelding, started 2002 as the Maryland-bred champion 2-year-old but was virtually unknown beyond state borders, even after winning four straight stakes at Laurel Park.

A berth in the Preakness seemed a pipe dream after he failed to win the Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico in April. However, his runner-up finish in the Tesio - after a less-than-perfect trip - was good enough for Alberts, who entered Magic Weisner in the state's biggest race.

Sent off at odds of nearly 46-1 in the field of 13, Magic Weisner was near the back of the pack early before coming into view in upper stretch. As local fans cheered, Magic Weisner gained on War Emblem, the Kentucky Derby winner, with every stride and missed by less than a length.

A fourth-place finish in the Belmont Stakes, victory in the Grade 2 Ohio Derby, and a second to War Emblem in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational Handicap validated Magic Weisner's ranking as one of the nation's leading 3-year-olds. His fall campaign was cut short on the eve of the Pennsylvania Derby in early September when he fell ill with West Nile virus.

Magic Weisner returned to Alberts's shed row at Laurel Park in January. "He's happy and getting stronger," said Alberts. "I'm taking my time with him." Alberts has been breezing him slowly and looks for him to return to the races this summer.

In other years, Shine Again would have earned a horse of the year title. Owner-breeder Allaire duPont will receive trophies in two categories for Shine Again, who was named champion older female for the second consecutive year and champion sprinter.

Last year at age 5, Shine Again (by Wild Again out of the Two Punch mare Shiner) captured the Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes at Saratoga, which she had won in 2001, and the Grade 2 First Flight Handicap. She placed in five other graded stakes, including a third in the Grade 1 Ruffian, earning $425,500. Shine Again finished on the board in 9 of her 10 starts, all but one at seven furlongs or less.

After a short break, Shine Again is back in Florida with trainer Allen Jerkens, who expects the mare to start breezing in the next week with a possible return in mid-April.

La Reine's Terms, a Sondra and Howard Bender homebred, had a near-perfect campaign at age 7, winning 5 of 6 starts, earning $320,680, and taking home the titles of champion turf runner and champion older male.

Trained by Larry Murray, La Reine's Terms didn't race until late June, but reeled off four consecutive stakes win, topped by a thrilling victory in the Maryland Million Turf, which he won in the final strides. In his final start of the year, he represented Maryland in the NTRA Great State Challenge and won the $250,000 Turf.

La Reine's Terms remained in light training throughout the winter and returned to Murray's barn at Laurel Park last week. A son of Private Terms, he is expected to return to action at Pimlico this spring.

More champions

Cherokee's Boy (by Citidancer), a ZWP Stable homebred, earned champion 2-year-old male honors by winning or placing in six stakes from eight starts. After capturing his first two starts this year against statebreds, Cherokee's Boy is ready to face sterner competition. Owners Foard Wilgis and David Picarello and trainer Gary Capuano are shipping him to New York for next Sunday's Gotham Stakes.

o Champion 2-year-old filly Coquettish (by Not for Love) earned her title with a victory in the Maryland Juvenile Championship Stakes at Laurel Park on the final day of the year. The gray Coquettish, bred by Linda Newton, owned by Susan Shipp and Cindy Polk, and trained by Graham Motion, returned to finish third in the Jameela Stakes on Feb. 1 and is now being freshened for a spring campaign.

o Champion 3-year-old filly Willa on the Move won or placed in six of her seven starts, including seconds in the Grade 1 Acorn and two other graded races. Her only off-the-board finish came in her final start of the year in which she cracked a shin, trainer Rodney Jenkins said. A daughter of Two Punch, she was bred by Robert Quinichett and is raced by Peter Angelos's Marathon Farms. She is recovering at Laurel Park and expected to make her return in June.

o Tres Touche, a son of Poles Apart bred by John Manfuso, repeated as Maryland's champion steeplechaser. The 6-year-old gelding shipped to Camden in South Carolina last week to prepare for the Carolina Cup after a fall campaign that ranked him among the top steeplechasers in the country. The winner of three stakes last year for owner Contrarian Stables and trainer Ricky Hendriks, Tres Touche finished second behind Eclipse Award winner Flat Top in the Breeders' Cup Steeplechase and Colonial Cup (both Grade 1).