09/15/2006 12:00AM

P. Kerney latest Feliciano find


"Have speed, will travel" could be the motto of Maryland-based trainer Ben Feliciano Jr.

Feliciano has sent out runners that set track records at seven racetracks over the past dozen years.

The latest speedster to emerge from Feliciano's barn at Laurel Park is P. Kerney, a 5-year-old Maryland-bred gelding who had done little to distinguish himself before Feliciano claimed him for $25,000 on behalf of owners Nancy Clark and Fred Heyman at Laurel on Jan. 22.

Since then, P. Kerney has raced exclusively in stakes, winning three and finishing second in the other three.

His victories each earned triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures: 102 for the Northern Wolf Stakes at Laurel on March 18; 109 for the Crying for More Stakes at Charles Town on July 8; and, most recently, 106 for the Taking Risks Stakes on Sept. 4 at Timonium.

P. Kerney set a seven-furlong track record (1:23.29) while winning the Crying for More. And in the Taking Risks, he came within a hair of Timonium's record for about 6 1/2 furlongs, galloping to an 8 1/2-length victory in 1:15.37.

"He couldn't be doing better," said an exultant Feliciano after the Taking Risks, a Maryland Fund race named for the Maryland-bred who developed into a Grade 1 winner after trainer King T. Leatherbury claimed him for $20,000 in 1993.

"The owners are ready to try the big time," Feliciano said, "but I'd rather pick our spots around here."

P. Kerney has earned $171,630 for his owners - Heyman, an attorney in Peter G. Angelos's Baltimore office, and Heyman's friend, Clark. P. Kerney's total earnings, from 20 starts, are $285,080.

P. Kerney is less of a success story for his breeder, Robert S. Evans, who aims for the top end of the business at his Courtland Farm near Easton, Md.

The best horses to come from Courtland are Grade 1-winning half-siblings Forestry (now a major sire) and Cash Run, both of whom were foaled in Kentucky but raised at the Maryland farm before being sold at the Keeneland July yearling sale for $1.5 million and $1.2 million, respectively.

Evans is the brother of Edward P. Evans, who bred 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam.

Robert Evans raced P. Kerney for four seasons, winning four allowance races, and only once risked him for a claiming tag. The gelding has a long association with Evans breeding on both sides of his pedigree.

His sire, Pleasant Tap, owned by Robert and Edward Evans and standing at Lane's End in Kentucky, is a champion son of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Pleasant Colony. The Evans's father, the late Thomas Mellon Evans, bred and raced both Pleasant Colony and Pleasant Tap.

Robert Evans bred P. Kerney's dam, Substantial (by Stalwart), and his granddam, Madam Magoo.

Both were stakes performers. Madam Magoo won or placed in 22 of 48 starts over five seasons, including a second in the 1988 Tosmah Handicap, earning $123,825. Substantial won the 1996 Moonlight Jig Stakes and placed in three other added-money races, retiring with earnings of $110,568.

Substantial, also the dam of the stakes-placed gelding High Watermark ($98,814, third in the Federico Tesio Stakes), produced P. Kerney as her third foal.

Robert Evans happened to be entertaining guests at Courtland when P. Kerney was born on March 4, 2001, as farm manager Scott Warner recalled. "Ten or 12 people watched the foaling," said Warner. "One of them was Patrick Kerney - the Atlanta Falcons All Pro defensive player, who is a friend of Mr. Evans."

Unfortunately, Substantial died at 14 while attempting to deliver a full sibling to P. Kerney this spring.