07/25/2006 12:00AM

Officer extends potent sire line


LAS VEGAS - Officer, a son of Bertrando, is giving a boost to the important In Reality sire line.

Like he did on the track at age 2, when he was one of the best of his generation, Officer got off to a fast start at stud. He leads all freshmen stallions by money earned and already has 10 winners from his first crop, including Les Grands Trois, a dazzling first-out winner at Belmont Park for Bobby Frankel on July 20. His winners include Run Alex Run, who was third in the Bashford Manor Stakes, and Frances G and Chief Officer, two fillies who were scheduled to run in Saratoga's Schuylerville Stakes on opening day.

Officer reeled off five straight victories at 2, including wins in the Graduation, Best Pal, and Champagne stakes, plus the Del Mar Futurity. He tired to finish fifth as the 7-5 favorite in the 2001 Breeders' Cup Juvenile behind Johannesburg, finished second in the California Cup Juvenile Stakes, and was third in the Hollywood Futurity. He won his only start at 3, the Zany Tactics Stakes, and was retired shortly thereafter.

But the precocious speed Officer showed at 2 forecast what kind of sire he might be, and the early results of his babies bear this out. In addition to the speed of his sire line (Bertrando-Skywalker-Relaunch-In Reality-Intentionally), Officer gets abundant speed from the bottom of his pedigree, through his damsire, Septieme Ciel (a son of Seattle Slew), and second damsire, Raise a Man, a son of the great speed influence Raise a Native.

Officer's fifth dam, Oak Cluster, only placed at 2, but was a half-sister to Buckpasser, and she produced stakes winners Twice Cited, Manitoulin, and Open Hearing.

Officer's offspring are clearly blessed with speed and should be best between five furlongs and 1 1/16 miles, and should be especially effective on turf and wet tracks. The Intentionally-In Reality sire line was famous for transmitting talent on off tracks as well as turf ability (such as Tentam and Known Fact). Speed on all surfaces should be the trademark for all runners by Officer.

In Reality part of extraordinary crop

In Reality was a major-league racehorse, but he had the misfortune of being born in the exceptional 1964 foal crop that included Hall of Fame stars Dr. Fager and Damascus. Successor was best of this crop at 2, Damascus was best at 3, and Dr. Fager was best at 4.

A winner of 4 of 7 starts at 2, In Reality won the Pimlico Futurity, defeating Successor, who was narrowly named juvenile champion over Dr. Fager, Bold Hour, and In Reality based on his victories in the Champagne Stakes and Garden State Stakes.

At 3, In Reality had a sterling record of 6 wins and 6 seconds in 12 starts. He won the Fountain of Youth, Hibiscus, and Choice stakes, the Florida Derby, and the Rumson Handicap. In Reality was also placed first on the disqualification of Dr. Fager in the Jersey Derby. In Reality was second in the Preakness, finishing four lengths ahead of Kentucky Derby winner Proud Clarion. But Damascus, who developed into one of racing's great stars at 3, was dominant that year, winning 12 of 16 starts, including the Preakness, Belmont, Travers, Wood Memorial, Dwyer Handicap, American Derby, Aqueduct Stakes, Jockey Club Gold Cup, and the Woodward Stakes, where he defeated Buckpasser and Dr. Fager by 10 lengths in one of the most memorable races in history. Damascus was not only the 3-year-old champion, he was also the overwhelming Horse of the Year.

In Reality won 4 of 8 starts at 4, and his most important victory came in the Metropolitan Handicap, where he benefited from the absence of Dr. Fager and Damascus, whose epic battles in the Suburban and Brooklyn handicaps were the equal of any rivalry in racing. Dr. Fager was a machine at 4, winning 7 of 8 starts, and was named Horse of the Year, champion handicap (older) horse, grass horse, and sprinter. His 10-length Washington Park Handicap score established a track and world record of 1:32.20 for one mile. Not particularly caring for grass, he held off Advocator (Round Table) and grass champion Fort Marcy in the United Nations Handicap, and his six-length victory over top sprinter Kissin' George in the Vosburgh under a crushing 139 pounds set a seven-furlong track record of 1:20.20 in the most awesome display of speed this writer ever witnessed.

At stud, Successor had modest success and died young. Dr. Fager also died at the young age of 12, but not before siring champion Dearly Precious. His influence was strongest as a broodmare sire, and his name is found in the pedigrees of Forestry, Quiet American, Artax, Cryptoclearance, Mecke, A. P Jet, and Sefapiano. Damascus had great success as a stallion, and among his many stakes winners was Private Account, the sire of undefeated champion Personal Ensign.

While he was not quite the rival of his contemporaries on the track, In Reality was a powerhouse at stud. His most important sons were Relaunch, Valid Appeal, and Known Fact, and if not for In Reality, this sire line, which hails from Man o' War and Matchem, would be extinct.

Valid Appeal has many sons and grandsons at stud, led by Successful Appeal, the sire of Closing Argument and Lunarpal. Relaunch, through his descendants Cee's Tizzy (sire of Tiznow), Honour and Glory (sire of Put It Back), Skywalker (sire of Bertrando), and, to a lesser extent, Waquoit, has kept this line alive.