09/29/2005 11:00PM

Perigee Moon off to fast start with first crop


The latest buzz in the Ontario racing and breeding industry became even louder on Wednesday, when Tothemoonandback became the third impressive winner for freshman sire Perigee Moon.

Not only has the 7-year-old stallion made an impression with his runners, but at last month's Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society selected yearling sale session at Woodbine, five offspring of Perigee Moon sold for an average of $90,000.

The co-sale-topper at $190,000 was a full brother to Tothemoonandback, purchased by D. Morgan Firestone.

One horseman who is keen on Perigee Moon is Woodbine's second-leading trainer, Reade Baker, who co-owns and trains Tothemoonandback and will train the younger full brother.

"They are good-boned horses with good temperaments," said Baker, who also trains Perigee Girl, a daughter of Perigee Moon who posted a Beyer Speed Figure of 84 when she won her maiden last month. "They have speed and the ability to get to the races soon. If they can do that, then the conversation pretty much ends there."

Perigee Moon is a son of the top-class sire Hennessy, and was an undefeated Group 3 winner in two starts in Ireland as a 2-year-old. Hennessy, a Grade 1 winner at 2, is the sire of champion juvenile Johannesburg.

Perigee Moon's dam, Lovlier Linda, won the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Invitational, six other stakes races, and earned over $670,000. She is also the dam of Old Trieste, a Grade 2 winner of more than $845,000.

A common trait of the Perigee Moons is that each winner has been a flashy chestnut, the same color as the sire.

"You know the old saying," said Baker. "A successful sire stamps his offspring and he's certainly doing that."

"I saw the sire last year at the farm and he's nice-looking, but his foals are better looking than him."

Tothemoonandback earned a 77 Beyer for his debut win. The colt, bred by Michael C. Byrne's Park Stud - which stands Perigee Moon in Orangeville, Ontario - is out of the Geiger Counter mare Katebyrne.

Katebyrne, who has already thrown precocious juvenile stakes winner Ruby Park, is the granddam of Perigee Girl.

Perigee Moon's first winner, Moon Worship, has been stakes placed twice for trainer Cliff Hopmans Jr.

The sire has five other placed juveniles from his 18 starters through Sept. 29.

While the Perigee Moons have shown blazing speed this summer, Baker said many of them are "longer and scopier than the two that I have. I can't imagine they won't stretch out in distance."

On Sunday, top trainer Catherine Day Phillips sends out a first-time starter by the sire in the 10th race, an intriguing maiden special weight event. The filly, named Carolina, is a half-sister to millionaire Kiridashi.

Perigee Girl could become the sire's first stakes winner when she goes to post for the Victorian Queen Stakes on Oct. 5.

* LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society's first annual Black & White Gala, held at the Woodbine trackside tent on Sept. 23, was a hit for not only the 300 people in attendance but also for the retired racehorses awaiting homes at LongRun's foster farms. The live and silent auction portions of the Gala, which featured two performances by Jeff Healey and the Jazz Wizards, raised over $40,000.