08/16/2007 11:00PM

Paying Off's stock rising


Morgan and Janet Wayson are hoping that history repeats itself on this year's Maryland Million Day, Oct. 13 at Laurel Park.

The Waysons, longtime Thoroughbred owners from southern Maryland, campaigned one of the most accomplished runners ever to win a Maryland Million race. Their mare Thirty Eight Go Go gave her breakout performance in the 1987 Maryland Million Lassie and went on to win or place in 20 additional stakes, earning a career total of $871,229.

They have waited 20 years for another victory in a major Maryland Million event, but the Waysons now have another strong prospect.

Paying Off, a 3-year-old filly from the last Maryland-sired crop of Malibu Moon, is being pointed for the Maryland Million Oaks after defeating seven Maryland-bred rivals on Aug. 11 in the Twixt Stakes at Laurel.

Purchased by the Waysons for $14,000 at the 2005 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale, Paying Off is getting "better and better with time," according to trainer Jerry Robb, who has handled her throughout her career.

The gray or roan filly won a maiden special weight at first asking last November, then became a stereotypical bridesmaid, placing in five stakes before earning her first stakes victory in the Twixt.

Bettors shied away from Paying Off as she went to post for the Twixt. The heavy favorite was Ethan's Car, a Robert E. Meyerhoff homebred who had placed in open stakes company at Monmouth Park in her last two starts.

Paying Off, a model of determination, paid $14.60 to win and headed an exacta worth $104.40. She made her move on the outside entering the stretch, assumed the lead with a furlong to go, and prevailed by a hard-fought length over runner-up Welcome Inn.

Welcome Inn, who campaigns for her breeder, Richard L. Golden, won last year's Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship Stakes, in which Paying Off finished two lengths back in third.

Paying Off now has a record of 3-5-4 from 16 starts and earnings of $151,380

Paying Off is the first stakes winner bred by Claude Schoch, who trades under the name of High Mountain Farm LLC.

Schoch became involved as an owner-breeder in 1998, soon after selling a computer software company that he had developed. He keeps a small band of broodmares at his 600-acre High Mountain Farm in Middleburg, Va., and routinely foals his mares in Maryland in order to take advantage of the Maryland Fund program.

Schoch purchased Paying Off's dam, the English-bred Chief Witch (by Chief's Crown's son Be My Chief), in England at the 1998 Doncaster spring sales, a national hunt auction. That type of sale is geared primarily toward steeplechase and foxhunting prospects, noted Schoch. But Chief Witch has a speed-oriented pedigree that encouraged Schoch to bring her back home and attempt to race her. He credits Patti Miller of EQB Agents and Consultants, as well as his friend Doug Fout, with advising him on the purchase of Chief Witch, who was 3 years old at the time.

"The mare had incredible conformation, and Patti determined that - physically - she had a very large heart," said Schoch.

Chief Witch trained brilliantly at the Middleburg Training Center, said Schoch. But she ran off with an exercise rider and sustained a broken coffin bone, ending her racing career before it began.

Schoch predicted that A.P. Indy's son Malibu Moon, just then launching his immensely successful stud career at Country Life Farm in Bel Air, Md., might provide a pedigree nick with Chief Witch. Paying Off is the last in a trio of Malibu Moon fillies Schoch bred from Chief Witch. The first was Witchy Moon, who raced for Schoch until being claimed. She won once in 14 starts and earned $20,835. Then came Melanie Moon, whom Schoch sold for $20,000 at the 2004 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale. That filly is unplaced in her only start.

Chief Witch has produced only one other foal, a yearling filly by Malibu Moon's half-brother Parker's Storm Cat. Schoch privately sold Chief Witch, along with that filly, last year.

Malibu Moon, who relocated to Castleton Lyons farm in Kentucky in the fall of 2003, will not have future crops of runners racing in the Maryland Million, as the program is restricted to horses sired in Maryland.

Still, Malibu Moon has major ties to Maryland, as the Pons family's Country Life Farm continues to own a 25 percent interest in him. Paying Off is Malibu Moon's 21st stakes winner, and his seventh stakes winner this season.