11/08/2002 12:00AM

A second Willa makes name for herself


What's in a name? Rosy prospects, apparently, for fillies who go by the name of Willa on the Move. Two of them have raced within the past 14 years - both Maryland-breds, and both now stakes winners of some renown.

Willa on the Move, the current model, walloped Maryland-bred 3-year-old rivals in the Politely Stakes on Nov. 2 at Laurel Park, drawing off to an 11-length score for owner Peter Angelos, who campaigns her in the name of his Marathon Farms.

Purchased by Angelos for $47,000 at the 2000 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale, Willa on the Move has gone far in six carefully orchestrated starts this year. She won a maiden special weight by six lengths at first asking in February and made it two in a row in allowance company in May, then strung together three second-place finishes in graded stakes: Pimlico's Grade 3 Miss Preakness (won by Vesta), Belmont's Grade 1 Acorn (won by You), and Calder's Grade 3 Azalea Breeders' Cup (won by Bold World). The Politely boosted her earnings to $193,050.

Trainer Rodney Jenkins's plans for Willa's next stop is the Grade 2 Top Flight Handicap at Aqueduct on Nov. 29.

It's not by coincidence that Willa on the Move (by Two Punch) bears the same name as the filly who won the 1988 edition of Grade 1 Ashland Stakes, along with four other stakes, and also had placings in four Grade 1 events. The two are closely related, and there was hope that history might repeat itself.

The original Willa on the Move, a daughter of Assert and the Tentam mare Willamae, was a half-sister to the current Willa on the Move's dam, Willa Joe, by El Gran Senor.

Both Willa on the Moves were bred by Robert Quinichett, the Silver Spring, Md., businessman who raced the original Willa on the Move before selling her privately late in her 3-year-old season to Ron Lamarque. Lamarque is best known as the co-owner of Risen Star, winner of the 1988 Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

"It's a wonderful family," said Angelos's racing manager, Harry Strovel. "I always admired [Grade 1 winner] Willa on the Move, and I liked her name.

"I suggested to Mr. Angelos that we name this filly after her, and he said it might go."

A foal of 1985, the first Willa on the Move was exported in the early 1990's to Japan, where she produced the last four of her five foals. Her final registered foal was born in 1994. When a mare has been out of production for five years, The Jockey Club's practice is to make the name available. However, The Jockey Club registrar Buddy Bishop said the case of the two Willas is something that won't happen again. Rules adopted this year prohibit the same name within five generations of a pedigree.

The naming of the second Willa on the Move came as a surprise to Quinichett. Now retired and almost completely out of the horse business, Quinichett ranked among Maryland's most active and successful breeders and owners of the 1980's and early 1990's.

Quinichett bought the first Willa on the Move's dam, Willamae, for $55,000 at the 1981 Keeneland yearling sale and campaigned her to win the 1984 Mill Race Handicap and place third in the Grade 3 Barbara Fritchie.

Willamae was an outstanding producer. After Willa on the Move - her first foal - she went on to be the dam of Travers and Whitney winner Will's Way ($956,400), stakes winner Lady Reiko, and the stakes-placed runners Citidancer (second in the 1990 Grade 1 Jerome Handicap) and Sweet Willa. Citidancer (by Dixieland Band) is among Maryland's leading sires.

Willa Joe, Willamae's sixth foal and the dam of the current Willa on the Move, was unraced. Quinichett sold Willa Joe at this year's Keeneland January sale for $260,000 in foal to Pulpit. Willamae left his broodmare band in 1995, when she was sold at the Keeneland January sale, in foal to Dayjur, for $160,000.