01/11/2002 12:00AM

One horse worth two-state bonus


Philadelphia Park-based trainers Walter and Cynthia Reese took advantage of breeding incentive programs in two states when they sent out their homebred 2-year-old gelding Pal's Partner to win and place in stakes in Maryland and Pennsylvania in 2001.

Although their mares reside at the Reeses' Timber Creek Farm, 63 acres of prime New Jersey real estate in Robbinsville, just 35 miles northeast of their home track, the Reeses have found many riches within a short distance of their tranquil farm.

Cynthia Reese noted, "We will always try to have a Pennsylvania-bred, since we train at Philadelphia Park."

Pal's Partner etched his name among the leading Pennsylvania-bred juveniles, although "he was slow to come around," according to Reese. After an uninspiring debut in late May over a sloppy surface at Philadelphia Park, Pal's Partner won his maiden in his fourth start, romping home by more than seven lengths for a $25,000 claiming price.

"Walter was placing Pal's Partner in races that would help boost his confidence," explained Cynthia Reese.

Although the gelding had but one victory under his belt, the Reeses sent Pal's Partner to the Storm Cat Stakes on the inaugural Pennsylvania Day at the Races card on Oct. 6. Going off at 30-1, Pal's Partner surged into contention into the stretch and finished third behind Volley Ball and Oswayo.

Cynthia Reese persuaded her husband to enter Pal's Partner in the Maryland Million Nursery. Pal's Partner was eligible as a son of former Northview Stallion Station sire Rakeen, who had been nominated when standing in Maryland.

Coming back on one week's rest, Pal's Partner surprised the Pimlico crowd as he powered his way to a four-length victory in the six-furlong Nursery at nearly 15-1. The Reeses' first Maryland Million starter earned a $55,000 paycheck.

In his final start of the year, Pal's Partner once again faced statebred company in the Pennsylvania Futurity. In one of Philadelphia Park's most exciting races of the year, three juveniles hit the wire together, with Oswayo getting his nose in front of Pal's Partner, and Volley Ball a neck back in third.

Pal's Partner's tally for the year was eight starts, five wins or placings, and earnings of $93,620.

Known around the barn as Socksee - "He has four white socks," said Reese - Pal's Partner is one of a growing number of solid performers descending from Bea Barger, a mare Walter Reese acquired in the late 1960's.

"We have so many generations of the family, it means a lot to Walter," said Cynthia Reese.

Bea Barger was the dam of three-time stakes-placed O.K. Pal, a daughter of Stevward who surpassed her racetrack accomplishments by producing three stakes winners from seven foals, including Grade 1 winner O.K. by You, winner of the 1982 Sapling Stakes, and the Foolish Pleasure filly Thanks Pal.

It is through Thanks Pal that the Reeses' fortunes continue to build - she is the dam of consecutive New Jersey Futurity winners Forever Pals and Always Pals (both by Polish Numbers), and their winning half-sister, My New Pal (by Saratoga Six), dam of Pal's Partner and stakes-placed My New Love.

The Reeses sold My New Pal's yearling colt by Not for Love at last fall's Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale for $50,000, just days before Pal's Partner's Maryland Million victory. The mare, not in foal for 2002, is scheduled to be bred to Devil's Bag.

Pal's Partner returned to the track on Jan. 5 in Aqueduct's Count Fleet Stakes, in which he set the pace before fading to eighth, beating only Oswayo.

"He had been off six weeks and was very fresh. We tried to find an allowance, but the race didn't go," Reese explained. "He drew the one hole and we knew he'd go to the front. But speed was dead that day, and he tired."

Noting that Pal's Partner came out of the race in fine shape, Reese said that she and her husband "are looking at statebred races closer to home."