07/25/2007 12:00AM

Risky call paid off with Passified


DEL MAR, Calif. - Jim Cassidy took one look at Passified at a sale in Newmarket, England, last fall and immediately made up his mind. He was buying the 2-year-old filly on behalf of Kentucky farm owner Jim Peyton.

The only catch was that Peyton did not know he was about to become the owner of Passified. A little later, Peyton found out that Cassidy had spent approximately $250,000 on his behalf.

"I don't know if I want her," Peyton told Cassidy after the sale.

"Guess what, buddy," Cassidy responded. "You own her."

Nine months later, Peyton and Cassidy are quite happy to be the filly's owner and trainer. Passified has won two stakes in California this year and will try for her third, and most prestigious, in Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 San Clemente Handicap at a mile on turf at Del Mar.

Judging from Passified's victory in the Flawlessly Stakes at Hollywood Park on July 6, she is in the best form of her career.

"That was the best race she's won," Peyton said. "She's turned out to be a great horse."

Peyton, 67, and Cassidy, 61, met through another stakes-winning filly, Ticker Tape, the winner of the 2004 American Oaks and Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup. Peyton bought Ticker Tape privately in January 2005 when she was the leading horse in Cassidy's stable. Peyton was seeking top-class broodmares to add to his Forging Oaks Farm in Lexington, Ky., and decided to keep the filly with Cassidy after the purchase.

Ticker Tape was retired last year after suffering a cannon bone injury. Peyton said that Ticker Tape, a winner of 8 of 31 starts and $1,452,396, was bred to Empire Maker earlier this year, but aborted the foal. She was not bred again this year, and will be bred in 2008.

Peyton, who lives in Lexington and Naples, Fla., has more than 20 broodmares at his farm. He has concentrated on racing in recent years after selling Louisville Forge and Gearworks, which, among other things, provided auto parts for Toyota.

In recent years, Peyton has improved the farm's bloodstock and bought additional acreage. He said he will have a six-yearling consignment through Three Chimneys Farm at the Keeneland September yearling sale.

"We've made an awful lot of progress," he said. "It takes years and years and years. Finally, you get the base stock that you want. We're at the beginning when we're rotating the broodmares out and replacing them with the fillies from the racetrack.

"I just love the horses and enjoy the foals," he said. "That is part of the experience I wish most people could enjoy."

The Cassidy-Peyton team also has Galileo's Star, who was fourth in the American Oaks and Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap in 2006 and ran fifth in an allowance race here last week, her first start in more than a year. Both men are excited about an unraced 2-year-old colt by Mr. Greeley named High and Mighty.

Eventually, Passified will join the Forging Oaks broodmares.

Passified has earned $197,787 for Peyton, nearly all of the purchase price. She won an allowance race in January and the China Doll Stakes in a 23-1 upset at Santa Anita in March before finishing second, third, and fourth in stakes at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park in the spring.

In the Flawlessly, she stalked the pace and won by a length over Diva's Seastar.

"Of course, you're always hoping they'll be great," Cassidy said. "She hasn't run badly for me at any time."

Cassidy vividly recalls the day he first saw Passified last fall. At the time, she had 1 victory in 3 starts. Cassidy remembers that she did not arrive on the sale grounds until the day she was scheduled to be sold, and that he was not the only trainer eager to see her in person.

"When she came off the van, there must have been 50 trainers looking at her," Cassidy said. "I looked at her and walked away."

Trusting his instincts, Cassidy spent considerable money to buy Passified for a buyer who did not even know he was getting her, and on Saturday they may be rewarded with a graded stakes win.