07/13/2006 11:00PM

Pedigree buffs get gem in Edenwold


Nine years after Best of Friends made her career debut in a $20,000 claimer at Woodbine, her son Edenwold won the Queen's Plate on June 25, the first leg of Canada's Triple Crown and the most prestigious race for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.

By Southern Halo, Edenwold is now favored to win the second leg, the Prince of Wales Stakes, on Sunday at Fort Erie.

Edenwold was co-bred by Gail Wood and Bill Diamant, whose wife, Vicki Pappas, claimed Best of Friends for $10,000 from her fourth start, Sept. 4, 1997.

Pappas, a former trainer, yearling sales manager, and Woodbine stakes coordinator, is an avid student of Thoroughbred pedigrees, in particular the great Buckpasser.

Noel Hickey of Irish Acres Farm taught Pappas the pedigree ropes, she said.

"I did a lot of pedigree research for him, and he was a very astute claimer of broodmare prospects long before it became computerized and modernized," Pappas said.

Pappas and Hickey spent years compiling index cards of almost every female horse in North America, seeking out successful pedigree crosses. When Diamant was looking for a horse to claim in 1997, a filly with perhaps some residual value, Pappas zeroed in on Best of Friends when her younger half-brother Vice n' Friendly won the Clarendon Stakes that summer.

"[Vice n' Friendly] had just won a stakes race, and I thought he could go on to better things," said Pappas. "She was also by Mining, who was out of a Buckpasser mare, and he was becoming quite a good broodmare sire."

Best of Friends traces back to the good broodmare Your Hostess, dam of T.V. Commercial, and is from a family made popular in Ontario by Bill Graham's Windhaven Farms. Stakes winner Raise Your Sights, a Raise a Native mare owned by Windhaven, produced Best of Friends's dam, Very Best Friend.

A few days before Diamant and Pappas claimed Best of Friends, the filly's nephew Brite Adam won the Simcoe Stakes. Wood bought into Best of Friends the next spring, when Langfuhr was chosen as the mare's first mate. The resulting foal was a smallish filly, Asmokeafterdinner, who earned $126,000.

By the time another stallion was picked for Best of Friends, both Vice n' Friendly and Brite Adam had gone on to win important stakes races. Vice n' Friendly became a graded stakes winner of almost $500,000, and Brite Adam won the Plate Trial and the Grade 3 Seagram Cup.

Wood chose to breed Southern Halo to Best of Friends, Pappas said, "because he was crossing well with Buckpasser. And one of his sons, More Than Ready, was very hot on the track."

Edenwold was an exceptional looking youngster from the moment he was born, and he quickly became one of Wood's favorites.

The partnership sold Edenwold at the 2004 Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society's September yearling sale for $100,000 to Jim and Alice Sapara, who also raced Vice n' Friendly early in his career.

Edenwold marched through a championship juvenile season, which included three stakes wins, before placing twice in stakes before his Plate score.

Best of Friends has a Salt Lake filly by her side and is in foal to young stallion Lion Heart.