04/25/2008 12:00AM

Sheeler an exception among Meyerhoff-breds

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It's far from a rarity when a horse bred by Robert E. Meyerhoff wins a stakes at Pimlico.

But Sheeler strayed from the familiar story line when he rallied to a 1 1/2-length victory - at better than 15-1 -in the Star de Naskra Stakes for Maryland-bred 3-year-olds on April 17, opening day of the Pimlico meet.

Sheeler was born and raised at Meyerhoff's Fitzhugh Farm, the Phoenix, Md., establishment that has been the birthplace of many outstanding runners, including millionaire and leading sire Broad Brush and his top-class sons Include and Concern.

However, Sheeler, a son of Dixie Union, is among the very few Meyerhoff-bred stakes winners to make his mark for another owner.

Trainer Dale Capuano dropped the claim slip on behalf of owner Neil Glasser last November at Laurel Park when Sheeler was making his third start for Meyerhoff and trainer Richard Small. Risked that day for a $40,000 maiden claiming tag, Sheeler won by six lengths.

"We had lost a few horses, and we were looking to replace them," said Glasser, who is retired from a long career in the home construction business in Baltimore County.

Glasser, a horse owner since 1971, has seven horses in training - four with Capuano and three with Charles Town-based conditioner Jeff Runco.

Sheeler's first start for Glasser and Capuano was the Maryland Juvenile Championship Stakes on Dec. 29.

That race turned out to be a shocker, though not in a positive sense. Jockey Anna Napravnik eased Sheeler in the final half of the one-mile contest, bringing him to the wire 86 1/2 lengths behind the winner, Apple Special.

Afterwards, Capuano could find nothing wrong with the colt. He describes the performance as a "mystery."

Sheeler made three starts this season prior to the Star de Naskra, finishing second and third in allowance company and winning for a $40,000 claiming tag at Laurel in February. Each of those races was at a mile or more.

Sheeler's stakes triumph - at six furlongs - led Capuano to foresee a promising future for Sheeler as a sprinter.

The Grade 3 Hirsch Jacobs Stakes on Preakness Day looms as a possibility. But Glasser said: "We'll only run him if we think he has a serious chance. He won't be in there just so we can run a horse on Preakness Day."

Meanwhile, Meyerhoff continues to look for good things from Sheeler's dam, Special Broad, who is one of 19 broodmares in residence at Fitzhugh Farm.

Meyerhoff bred Special Broad, a 1992 daughter of Broad Brush from the Mr. Prospector mare Special Strike. He purchased Special Strike, in foal to Dixieland Band, for $155,000 at the 1997 Keeneland November sale.

Special Strike produced two stakes winners for Meyerhoff - Special Broad and Beware Avalanche (a 1996 gelding by Mt. Livermore). He sold Special Strike for $32,000, in foal to Valley Crossing, at the 1998 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic December mixed sale.

Special Broad, one of the top Maryland-bred performers of her generation, won or placed in nine stakes, including a victory in the Grade 3 Tempted, before joining Meyerhoff's broodmare band.

Her broodmare career was a disappointment until Sheeler, her seventh foal, came along. He is her first stakes performer

Sheeler's half-sister by Mr. Greeley brought $100,000 at last year's Keeneland September yearling sale. Special Broad has a yearling colt by Indian Charlie, still at Fitzhugh, and is due to foal on May 28 to Dixie Union. She is booked to Southern Image.

Meyerhoff, renowned as an art collector, named Sheeler for the artist and photographer Charles Sheeler (1883-1965), a native Pennsylvanian who has been described as one of the founders of American modernism.