06/20/2001 11:00PM

Saudi Poetry blooming into expected blueblood

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Saudi Poetry gained a second graded stakes victory with her success in last Saturday's Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs. Her recent performances have more than justified the hopes and money invested in this filly, whose pedigree and physique have long held great promise. From the immediate family of champion Silverbulletday and Acorn Stakes winner Forest Secrets, Saudi Poetry is a handsome chestnut daughter of Storm Cat and the Gone West mare Gone to Venus.

With this pedigree and her good looks, the filly always promised to make a racer, and her sales price as a yearling clearly showed the buyers' enthusiasm for her. Selling for $1.7 million to the Thoroughbred Corp. of Ahmed Salman, Saudi Poetry topped Fasig-Tipton's Saratoga sale of select yearlings in 1998.

The filly sold from the consignment of Taylor Made Farm, agent for Ed and Patricia Pavlish, and Duncan Taylor said, "She was always a big, good-looking filly. She has a very good shoulder and neck and had a little more size than some Storm Cats. We thought she was exceptional. Actually, she brought more than we expected, but then they usually do when one tops a sale."

Not only did Saudi Poetry sell for the highest price of any yearling at Saratoga, but she brought the second-highest price for any filly in 1998.

An operation like the Thoroughbred Corp. doesn't pay that kind of money for just any horse. The year they purchased Saudi Poetry, the operation had another striking chestnut daughter of Storm Cat racing and winning Grade 1 stakes, Sharp Cat. She won seven Grade 1 races for the Thoroughbred Corp., and the opportunity to acquire a second filly who seemed to be cast in the same mold was too much to pass up.

So, in addition to her looks and her sire, now the most commercially sought-after stallion in the world, Saudi Poetry sprang from an outstanding female family. Her fourth dam is champion Parlo; the third dam is All Beautiful, a Broodmare of the Year and dam of Arts and Letters, Horse of the Year in 1969; the second dam is Rokeby Venus, a graded stakes winner who produced champion Silverbulletday. Rokeby Venus is a half-sister to Garden Secrets, whose first foal is Forest Secrets, who won the Acorn Stakes on June 8.

Gone to Venus, the dam of Saudi Poetry, is doing her part to uphold these family traditions. She is by the good stallion Gone West and won three of her six starts. Saudi Poetry is her first foal.

Even with these distinguished relations, Saudi Poetry didn't become a major winner by default.

Trained by Bob Baffert, the filly debuted in early April of her 3-year-old season. She won and then dabbled in allowances and graded stakes, earning a pair of Grade 2 placings. Then she became a black-type winner in the restricted Torrey Pines Stakes at Del Mar in early September last year.

In most stables, she would have been a raging success, but for a filly who had provoked such high expectations, this was somewhat disappointing.

Baffert said, "She was always a nice, big filly, but she was also a sort of high-strung kind of filly. She'd run a race and then lose weight" and with it the power and speed to come back and compete at a higher level.

To help Saudi Poetry along to better performances, the members of the Baffert training stable have spent time making her feel more at ease. Baffert said, "When we take her out in the mornings, we spend a lot of time with her, and a lot of it's maturity. She's enjoying it more and starting to relax, where before she'd get too wound up after a race."

In addition to adding composure, the filly has improved physically. The trainer said, "She's keeping her weight on now and handling her races better, more professionally. Also, she was always big, but now she's beginning to fill out and getting broader, growing into herself really."

In the future, Baffert said, "We're going to bring her along, maybe go for the Delaware Handicap or go back to California, and try for a Grade 1. Then we'll plan for the Breeders' Cup in the fall."

Whatever she does in the future, Saudi Poetry has added greatly to the value of her younger siblings with her accomplishments.

Among her recent produce, Gone to Venus has a yearling full brother to Saudi Poetry. Taylor said, "He's a bay and dead-on Storm Cat, not a chestnut like his sister. He'll be going to Saratoga with us this year," where buyers will get to sample round two of this mating.

Gone to Venus produced a colt by Deputy Minister in March and is back in foal to War Chant on an April 18 cover.