05/23/2008 12:00AM

A pair of stakes-winning fillies on the rise

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Although Ginger Punch and Zenyatta fill the top spots among fillies and mares, a pair of 4-year-olds indicated with performances on Preakness Day that they could become players in the division.

Buy the Barrel, a progressive daughter of the Mr. Prospector stallion E Dubai, won the Allaire duPont Distaff at Pimlico, and Cowgirls Don't Cry, a lightly raced filly by the Storm Cat horse Pure Prize, won the Shuvee at Belmont.

In addition to their graded stakes victories, each 4-year-old filly is the last foal out of her dam, which is a rebuttal to the prejudice against yearlings and racehorses out of older broodmares.

Both fillies were bred in Kentucky, with Buy the Barrel owned and bred by Hinkle Farms and Cowgirls Don't Cry bred by Justice Farms, Steve and Greg Justice.

Buy the Barrell is out of the mare Affordable Price.

"We bought Affordable Price at the November sale in the fall of 1995, and she was already the dam of stakes winner Lady Skywalker, and her second stakes winner [Moore's Flat] was a yearling," said Tom Hinkle, general manager of Hinkle Farms.

The mare has since produced stakes winners Surf N Sand (Boston Harbor) and Buy the Barrel. The Hinkles acquired Affordable Price for $72,000, with Mike Brown signing for the mare as agent.

Hinkle recalled that Affordable Price "was in foal to Septieme Ciel when we bought her. She was a nice strong mare with a lot of bone. Not a great big mare, but average size, with probably more bone and substance than a lot of mares."

As the dam of four stakes winners, Affordable Price is almost certainly the most accomplished broodmare by her sire, the Mill Reef horse Drouilly.

Hinkle did not see her little-known sire as a negative because he was finding so many positives about the stakes-winning mare.

"At the time, she was a 10-year-old stakes-producing mare," he said. "She had a pedigree that we liked, and we thought that the Mill Reef influence through her sire Drouilly was a good pedigree allied with an attractive mare who should produce sound foals."

And Affordable Price bred two stakes winners and a stakes-placed filly by Boundary for the Hinkles from the half-dozen named foals they got out of the mare.

"The mare died after Buy the Barrel was weaned," Hinkle said. "When Affordable Price died, we thought it was a family we wanted to stay in, and we decided to keep Buy the Barrel, and we hoped we could race her successfully and put her in the broodmare band. And that's the way it's turned out."

When Buy the Barrel began her career, Hinkle wasn't entirely satisfied with her results.

"When she started out, Buy the Barrel was running in one-turn races and wasn't getting much done, aside from winning her maiden," he said. "The family mostly weren't sprinters, and after talking with trainer Larry Jones, we decided to try her around two turns, and she got a lot better.

"Larry and Cindy Jones have done a great job with this filly, and their staff deserves a tremendous amount of credit" for getting Buy the Barrel to stretch out and show her ability.

In contrast to the later success of Buy the Barrel, Cowgirls Don't Cry was an impressive racer from the beginning of her career but was laid off more than a year and is now returning to her best form.

Justice Farm bred Cowgirls Don't Cry from the Crafty Prospector mare Emphatic Style. The broodmare had produced two stakes-placed runners before Justice Farm bought her for $11,000 while she was carrying Cowgirls Don't Cry at the 2003 Keeneland November mixed sale.

Greg Justice said Cowgirls Don't Cry is the last foal out of the 21-year-old Emphatic Style, who has been pensioned.

Consigned by Justice Farm to the 2005 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July sale of select yearlings, Cowgirls Don't Cry was bought back for $12,000, and the breeder said that the market wasn't there for her because the filly was a "little immature and small at the time."

Justice said that he sold Cowgirls Don't Cry privately to Bob Cunningham.

Cunningham won a race with Cowgirls Don't Cry at Keeneland in April 2006, before pinhooking the filly at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May sale of 2-year-olds in training.

As a winner when she entered the ring at the juvenile sale, Cowgirls Don't Cry brought $105,000, the fourth-highest price for a 2-year-old by Pure Prize that year.

Following the sale, Cowgirls Don't Cry won the Anna M. Fisher Debutante Stakes and ran second in the Prairie Gold Lassie Stakes. Following her victory in the Debutante, Cowgirls Don't Cry was away from the races for more than 18 months, missing her entire 3-year-old season.

Like Buy the Barrel, Cowgirls Don't Cry has come back better than ever and appears to appreciate the added distance and maturity.

Time will tell whether these improving fillies can continue improving and successfully challenge the division leaders.