12/23/2001 12:00AM

Red: Latest outcross experiment

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ARCADIA, Calif. - In six months, trainers Henry Moreno and Blane Schvaneveldt will learn if a three-year gamble has paid off.

Since 1999, the two men have been partners on the young stallion Red, who stands at Schvaneveldt Ranch in Romoland, Calif.

This spring and summer, Moreno and Schvaneveldt will be cheering for Red's first crop of 2-year-olds to succeed in the two-furlong races at Santa Anita and at 4 1/2 furlongs at Hollywood Park. They will also be closely watching the results of the 2-year-old maiden races for Quarter Horses at Los Alamitos.

Red was bred to a total of 75 Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse mares in the winter of 1999, with the hope that his speed would influence both breeds. So far, he is a hit with Quarter Horse mare owners.

The racetrack test is next.

Red joins a long list of Thoroughbred stallions bred to Quarter Horses with the intent of injecting new blood into a limited gene pool. If Red is successful, Moreno and Schvaneveldt may have found a goldmine with a soon-to-be 8-year-old stallion who will cost breeders $1,500 this year.

If Red fails, he will be just another inexpensive stallion in a crowded market.

For both men, it has been a risk worth taking.

"In about six months, we'll know," Schvaneveldt said. "We're all bragging about [Red's offspring]. We'll see how they are when the let them go."

Thoroughbreds, as an outcross, have had a tremendous influence on Quarter Horse breeding. Special Effort, the only winner of the Quarter Horse Triple Crown at Ruidoso Downs, in 1981, was a three-quarter Thoroughbred. He was by Raise Your Glass, a son of Raise a Native. Special Effort's dam, Go Effortlessly, was by the Quarter Horse Double Devil out of the Thoroughbred mare Hijo Beauty.

"The only thing Quarter Horse about some of those horses was their papers," Moreno said.

In the 1940's, when Quarter Horse champions were first recognized, the Thoroughbred stallion Three Bars was influential.

More recently, Thoroughbreds such as Azure Te, Hempen, Pass 'em Up, Raise Your Glass, Reb's Policy, and Zevi were bred to Quarter Horse mares, and all experienced success.

None, however, had the influence of Beduino, a Mexican-bred Thoroughbred who stood in California from 1974 until his death in 1991. Beduino, a gray, sired an All American Futurity winner - Strawberry Silk in 1991 - and the champions Brigand Silk, Chingaderos, Indigo Illusion, and Tolltac. Tolltac became an influential sire, though not as prominent as another son of Beduino, Chicks Beduino, who ranks among the Quarter Horse leaders today.

Moreno, 72, and Schvaneveldt, 67, are not the only ones trying this experiment in California. At Vessels Stallion Farm in Bonsall, Calif., Apollo, the winner of the 1990 San Miguel Stakes at Santa Anita, and Devon Lane, who is by Storm Cat out of a Relaunch mare, are standing for both Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred mares.

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas has used his connections with major Kentucky farms to breed Quarter Horse mares to such major Thoroughbred stallions as Boone's Mill, Carson City, Hennessy, Honour and Glory, and Salt Lake. Last summer, Check Him Out, by Hennessy, won the $477,100 Ed Burke Memorial Futurity at Los Alamitos.

Despite the success of such Thoroughbred sires as Apollo, who is the sire of two-time champion Quarter Horse Old Habits, Devon Lane, and Red, hundreds of other Thoroughbred stallions have failed over the years in California and the Southwest due to a lack of interest from Quarter Horse breeders or failed offspring.

Ed Allred, the chairman of Los Alamitos Race Course, has been voted champion breeder six times by the American Quarter Horse Association. He is skeptical that a modern Thoroughbred stallion can have the same influence on Quarter Horse speed that it might have had in earlier generations.

"I would say the influence is far, far less today, although it's still there," he said. "There have been a fair amount of Thoroughbred mares that have been crossed with some success.

"The breed has matured. We have a Hennessy horse that can run, but the problem is a lot of these horses want to run six furlongs. That won't do us any good. There aren't that many that nick that well. They don't automatically infuse that hot blood and make them run faster. The breed has already gotten faster than most of the Thoroughbreds you'll breed to. You're almost breeding down from the standpoint of speed."

Even so, Allred, 64, says he would breed to Check Him Out, pointing out that the mix of top Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse bloodlines has been successful.

"He's a beautiful horse," he said. "I think he'll make a sire. You've got that quality Thoroughbred blood and a great mare with a lot of quickness. Again, we're tremendously indebted to the Thoroughbred for our breed."

Spencer Childers, who turned 90 on Dec. 21, has been breeding Quarter Horses since the 1950's. He has seen first-hand the influence of Thoroughbreds on Quarter Horse breeding and has three yearlings by Apollo.

"Apollo is the first Thoroughbred horse I've seen in a long time that looks the part [of a successful sire of Quarter Horses]," Childers said. "There have been so many fast Thoroughbreds bred to Quarter Horses that were a total flop."

Moreno and Schvaneveldt are optimitisic that Red can be a successful outcross for Quarter Horse mares. At the Vessels/Schvaneveldt sale in August, yearlings by Red sold for an average of $14,700, or nearly 10 times his stud fee.

During his racing career, Red often was in front, a tactic that led to five wins and earnings of $469,399. Although he never won a graded stakes, he scored victories in four stakes for California-breds, including the 1997 Cal Cup Sprint. He retired after his form tailed off in 1998.

Upon Red's retirement, Moreno, who operates a public Thoroughbred stable at Santa Anita, bought him from owner Jack Finley and sent him to Schvaneveldt.

"Jack let us have him at a price we could afford," Moreno said. "I think he's as good a horse I've seen to breed to a Quarter Horse mare. I always keep my eye open for a horse like this. He's got the confirmation, speed, disposition, and soundness. He was very sturdy and a good, sound horse."

Schvaneveldt says that in Quarter Horse racing the number of options for breeders with top-class mares is limited, leaving some bloodlines overused.

"We need an outcross really bad," he said. "We haven't had one that worked in the business like Reb's Policy, Azure Te or Beduino. We need some Thoroughbred in [Quarter Horses] to run further and get a little bone in them."

Another attraction to breeding Thoroughbred stallions to Quarter Horse mares is that artificial insemination is allowed for Quarter Horses but not permitted with Thoroughbreds. The practice enables a stallion to cover more Quarter Horse mares than Thoroughbred mares, which must be inseminated by live cover.

Schvaneveldt recently added the Storm Cat colt Bustopher Jones to his stallion lineup. A former Lukas-trained Thoroughbred, Bustopher Jones was bred to 120 mares in the last two years in Utah, including a few Quarter Horses, Schvaneveldt said.

A few stakes winners would make him a sire in demand, and perhaps add a new chapter to the connection between the two breeds.