06/25/2003 12:00AM

Sightseek boosts sire, dam


ELMONT, N.Y. - Sightseek, so impressive in winning last weekend's Ogden Phipps Handicap on the main track, came very close to pursuing a career on the grass.

"Her pedigree is strongly oriented to grass," noted Dr. John Chandler, who heads the Juddmonte Farm operation in North America. "Sightseek was originally sent to Ireland for that reason and was at our training center there when a decision was made to bring her back in the hope that she could be an advertisement for her sire, Distant View, as being able to produce quality horses on dirt."

It has worked out well. Sightseek is a Grade 1 stakes-winner of more than $700,000 and reflects great credit on her dam, Viviana, as well as on Distant View. Juddmonte bred Viviana, whose granddam is the champion Chris Evert, and she is one of the stars of the Juddmonte American broodmare band, which numbers 130.

Viviana, the dam of $1 million winner Tates Creek in addition to Sightseek, has a yearling filly by Distant View and a colt foal by Tates Creek's sire, Rahy.

As fine a producer as she is, however, Viviana has to play second fiddle to Toussaud, the dam of five stakes winners: Chester House, Honest Lady, Decarchy, Chiselling, and Empire Maker. Toussaud, by the Northern Dancer stallion El Gran Senor, has a yearling filly by Seeking the Gold, a filly foal by Kingmambo, and is in foal to A.P. Indy.

"Most of our good mares have pedigrees that go back a long way in the stable history," Chandler said. "Juddmonte won the prestigious Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot last week with Three Valleys, who won impressively by eight lengths. Three Valleys is by Diesis out of a half-sister to the dam of the Breeders' Cup winner Banks Hill." The line leads back to a mare named Sookera, who was Roberto's first stakes winner, Chandler said.

Keeping a sloppy track fit for racing

Since Belmont Park opened on May 7, 17 inches of rain fell on the track, which usually averages slightly less than an inch a week. Track superintendent Jerry Porcelli and his staff met the unprecedented challenge head on and did an outstanding job of providing a first-class track that was safe and competitive. Sightseek's winning time in last weekend's Ogden Phipps Handicap was the fastest in five years, despite a midafternoon shower that left the track a river of slop.

"A sloppy track today is not what it was some years ago," Porcelli says. "We use different equipment. We used to drag the wooden sleds over the slop, but the tracks moved a lot. Now we drag metal plates that are 16 feet wide and more than four feet deep. They probably weigh about 1,000 pounds and they can hold the track in place. We graded the track whenever we got the slightest opportunity, and we did our best to have it even as much as possible."