06/20/2001 11:00PM

Sam-Son aiming to repeat history


LEXINGTON, Ky. - When the horses go to the post for Sunday's Queen's Plate in Canada, Tammy Samuel-Balaz, and many others, will be hoping the race result will add luster to one of the sport's best pairings. Balaz, whose family owns Sam-Son Farm and the great homebred racemare Dance Smartly, will be keeping her binoculars trained on Sam-Son's filly Dancethruthedawn, who is bidding to become the second Mr. Prospector-Dance Smartly runner to capture the race.

Dance Smartly, a three-time champion and Canada's 1991 Horse of the Year, won the race herself in 1991, and her 1997 colt Scatter the Gold - who, like Dancethruthedawn, is by Mr. Prospector - captured it last year.

"We had the feeling purely from the bloodline point of view that this cross would work," said Balaz, who manages the Sam-Son Farms breeding and racing empire that her late father Ernie started three decades ago. Ernie Samuel died last year, but the Sam-Son team headed by his daughter has continued the program, starting with his adherence to the old principle of breeding the best to the best.

Dance Smartly's mating to Mr. Prospector is a prime example of that principle, pairing a champion mare from the Northern Dancer line with a son of Raise a Native who became the nation's top sire. The cross, predictably, has worked well. Four of the five runners Dance Smartly produced before Mr. Prospector's death in June, 1999, were by that stallion. The first, Dance Brightly, was a stakes-placed winner, followed by stakes-winners Scatter the Gold and Dancethruthedawn. Dance Smartly's last Mr. Prospector foal, a colt named Dance to Destiny, was foaled in 1999 and has yet to start. (In 1995, Sam-Son tried a slight variation on the theme, breeding Dance Smartly to Mr. Prospector's son Seeking the Gold. That mating produced a winner, Seek Smartly.)

"Mr. Prospector was the best," said Samuel-Balaz. "It was a natural mating plan. And once we got Dance Brightly and knew he was going to be a serious horse - though unfortunately he was injured and never got to fully show it - we went back to that cross again."

And now that Mr. Prospector is gone, Samuel-Balaz is hopeful that a different cross, with Seattle Slew's son A. P. Indy, will prove potent. Dance Smartly, who boards with other Sam-Son mares at Pat Costello's Drumkenny Farm when they're mated to Kentucky stallions, currently has an A. P. Indy colt and is back in foal to that stallion.

Samuel-Balaz says that the Sam-Son program is a team effort, involving input from trainer Mark Frostad and Sam-Son broodmare farm manager Simon Cassidy for purchases and matings, with aid from bloodstock agent Patrick Lawley-Wakelin in acquiring stallion seasons.

The principles that have built Sam-Son's powerful homebreeding program are simple ones: stay disciplined and stick with what works. The program has between 30 and 40 mares, Samuel-Balaz says, and is designed to continue successful bloodlines, which means keeping top daughters out of key producers.

Dance Smartly is just the latest example of that long-established rule. Her second dam, No Class, was one of Sam-Son's foundation mares, passing the baton to her daughter Classy 'N Smart, a Canadian champion 3-year-old filly. Classy 'N Smart, by Smarten, also is the dam of Grade 1 winner Smart Strike, now a Lane's End stallion, and second dam of Canadian juvenile filly champion Hello Seattle.

"It's a hugely emotional time," Samuel-Balaz said of Dancethruthedawn's Queen's Plate attempt. "These are homebreds, and that's what Dad always took great pride in and worked so hard for 30 years to develop."

Highland on the market

George and Kay Hofmeister's Highland Farms, covering almost 2,000 acres outside Paris, Ky., has been put up for sale with an asking price of $60 million. The farm's price includes 115 horses and shares in the stallion Real Quiet, according to Hoffman International Properties, which has listed the farm.

The farm property includes a 35,000-square foot main house, 19 barns, an office, and other buildings.

George Hofmeister bought Highland in 1997. A former partner in Vinery with Ben P. Walden Jr., in 1999 Hofmeister bought Walden out, then sold Vinery, including farms in Kentucky and Australia, to a partnership headed by Dr. Tom Simon.

Meanwhile, The Blood-Horse reported Thursday that Highland manager Peter Kirwan has filed a lien against 52 horses owned by a Utah-based group called New Classic Breeders LLC, alleging that New Classic Breeders owes Highland more than $175,000 in board bills.

New Classic Breeders is headed by former Hofmeister employee David Plummer and his son Spencer, who said that they formed the company to help some Highland clients who wished to relocate their horses.

"They are former clients of Hofmeister, and these horses are no longer on the Highland property," said Spencer Plummer. "They were moved by late last week."

Asked about The Blood-Horse report, Plummer said, "There are no liens outstanding on these horses. No horses that we are affiliated with have any liens against them."

Plummer said that all of the horses that New Classic relocated for former Hofmeister clients were yearlings, who have been sent to other Kentucky farms to be prepped for upcoming sales.

Kirwan and Hofmeister could not be reached for comment.

Winsong sale will not have racers

James Sapara, who announced Wednesday that he and his wife, Alice, will disperse their Winsong Farms Thoroughbred stock, issued a release Thursday to clarify that racing stock will not be included in the dispersal.

The Winsong breeding stock and foals, including graded stakes-winner Brushed Halory, will be sold at Keeneland's November auction.

o The average price of $16,857 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's June 2-year-olds and horses of racing age auction that ended Wednesday was a sale-record. The average was up 12 percent from last year and beat the previous record of $15,869 set in 1999.