05/01/2008 11:00PM

N.Y.-breds scoring in open stakes

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Topped by four 3-year-olds on the classics trail so far this year, New York-breds overall have performed well in open stakes races through April.

Nearly 30 New York-breds have won or placed in 40 open stakes events.

At this writing, Big Truck and Z Fortune were scheduled to run in the May 3 Kentucky Derby, while Icabad Crane and Giant Moon are preparing for the Preakness Stakes on May 17.

Big Truck, by state sire Hook and Ladder, won the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby, while Z Fortune captured the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds on the road to Louisville.

Icabad Crane won the Tesio Stakes at Pimlico, and Giant Moon the Count Fleet at Aqueduct.

Lynwood and Suzie O'Cain, of Highcliff Farm in Delanson, N.Y., are veterans of the N.Y. breeding program and appreciate the current quality of statebred runners.

Highcliff Farm is home to seven stallions.

"One thing that strikes me is that several new owners have invested in New York with good young stallions in recent years," said Suzie O'Cain. "And New York farms are making connections with other states when it comes to standing and supporting these stallions. I think people are seeing a good business model in New York, and with the eventual coming of the VLTs at Aqueduct, we could be a land of opportunity."

In addition to the four classic hopefuls, Bustin Stones won the Grade 1 Carter Handicap on April 5, and Sherine won the Grade 2 Comely Stakes on April 12.

Commentator, winner of the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap in 2005, is being pointed for another try at the prestigious Saratoga race this year.

Other top open performers still active include Dave, Premium Wine, Naughty New Yorker, and Cannonball.

"I think there has been a general development in breeding that has carried over into New York," Lynwood O'Cain said. "Modern technology, and the ability to do things online like checking nicking patterns and doing research, I think, has helped more people become better informed about Thoroughbred breeding. We just might be producing a better product."

Chief Seattle heads N.Y. sires

New York sires have also been in the news recently.

Chief Seattle, who stands at Empire Stud in Hudson, N.Y., had two recent stakes winners.

Bold Chieftain won the $124,000 Bay Meadows Handicap on April 26. Earlier in April, Chief Seattle was represented by Free Race, winner of the Group 2 Presidencial Stakes at Hipodromo De Las Americas in Mexico City.

Chief Seattle also is the sire of Grade 2 winner Seafree and Canadian champion Shillelagh Slew. He is currently No. 1 among state sires in 2008 progeny earnings at $785,130.

Eltish, who stands at Keane Stud Operations in Amenia, N.Y., was represented by his 12th stakes winner in El Sultry Sun. Owned by Live Oak Plantation, El Sultry Sun won the Sophomore Turf Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on April 5. Most recently, El Sultry Sun finished third in the Grade 3 Calder Derby on April 26.

Eltish is also the sire of Shes All Eltish, winner of the Grade 2 Bonnie Miss Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

Eltish, a son of Cox's Ridge, is owned by Gary Olsen and is currently third among New York sires with 2008 progeny earnings of $657,900.

Incurable Optimist tops in Argentina

Former state champion Incurable Optimist is the leading sire in Argentina for the period of Jan. 1 to April 20, with progeny earnings of $382,333.

Bred in New York by the husband-wife veterinarian team of William B. Wilmot and Joan Taylor, Incurable Optimist was the only juvenile of 1998 to win graded events in New York and California.

Racing in the colors of John and Theresa Behrendt, he won the Grade 3 Pilgrim Stakes in New York and the Grade 3 Generous Stakes in California.

Incurable Optimist was voted horse of the year, champion turf male, and champion juvenile in the annual New York Thoroughbred Breeders' Inc. awards.

He began his stud career in 2000 at Highcliff Farm.

Incurable Optimist is owned by the Behrendts in partnership with Haras El Paraiso.

The son of former top New York sire Cure the Blues is out of Miss Turlington, by Seattle Slew.

His second dam, Class Play, won the Coaching Club American Oaks.

Class Play is a granddaughter of the outstanding George D. Widener runner and producer Patelin.