01/18/2008 12:00AM

Silmaril joins elite five

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Reaching the million-dollar mark in earnings is still a glorious achievement for a Thoroughbred racehorse. Especially if the runner happens to be a homebred - and female.

Fans at Laurel Park on Jan. 12 knew they had witnessed something special when Silmaril launched a mighty rally from last under jockey Jeremy Rose and swept to a two-length victory in the six-furlong What a Summer Stakes.

With that win - her 12th in stakes company - Silmaril boosted her career earnings total to $1,032,973, becoming the 17th Maryland-bred millionaire. She is one of five Maryland-bred mares to hold that distinction.

Bred and owned by longtime Maryland horsepeople Steve and Sue Quick in partnership with Chris Feifarek, a Towson, Md., radiologist, the 7-year-old Silmaril has already begun a new chapter of her life.

On Thursday, she left the Bowie barn of trainer Chris Grove, who has guided her fortunes for the past six years, and returned to her birthplace, the Quicks' St. Omer's Farm in Forest Hill, Md. If all goes according to plan, she will deliver her first foal at St. Omer's in 2009. The stallion has yet to be determined, although Silmaril will be bred in Kentucky, said Sue Quick.

In 36 career starts, from ages 2 to 7, Silmaril had 16 wins and 10 seconds or thirds. She finished in the top three in 20 stakes, all but three of them at Maryland tracks. She has two graded wins: the 2005 edition of the Grade 3 Pimlico Breeders' Cup Distaff Handicap, in which she famously defeated Eclipse Award winner Ashado, and last year's Grade 3 Endine Stakes at Delaware Park. Her stakes wins came at five different distances.

A daughter of Diamond, who stood at Northview Stallion Station until moving to Oklahoma for the 2006 breeding season, Silmaril comes from a female family that has served as the core of the Quicks' breeding operation for 30 years.

Silmaril's great granddam, Pilgrim's Pride (a 1965 daughter of First Landing), was the first horse the Quicks owned.

They bought Pilgrim's Pride as a barren broodmare for $5,400 at a Timonium auction in 1978, and bred her that same season to North Sea, a son of Nearctic standing at Alfred G. Vanderbilt's Sagamore Farm in Glyndon, Md.

The result of that mating was Kattegat's Pride, one of the best Maryland-bred mares of all-time.

If Kattegat's Pride were racing today, she would almost certainly have millionaire status of her own. Trained by Joe Devereux, she was a Maryland-bred divisional champion at ages 3, 4, and 5, while winning or placing in 18 stakes and earning $511,812.

Like many outstanding racehorses, however, Kattegat's Pride failed to replicate herself in the breeding shed. The dam of only four foals, she produced three modest winners and one who never made it to the races.

Her only daughter, Kattebuck, a foal of 1988 by Spend a Buck, was Kattegat's Pride's top earner, with one win and $14,419 in earnings.

And it was Kattebuck who brought the family back to prominence. Silmaril is her fifth foal and first stakes performer.

Silmaril is named after the "great jewels" of the J.R.R. Tolkien stories. So when the time came to name Silmaril's full sister, now 3, the choice was obvious - Another Jewel.

What happened last Saturday was pure serendipity. Another Jewel, whom Grove also trains for Quick and Feifarek, won a maiden special weight at Laurel, one race before Silmaril's grand finale.

Kattebuck has a 2-year-old colt, For Ivymount, by Not for Love. She did not produce a foal in 2007, but is due to foal this spring to Not for Love.

The Quicks are also continuing to race another important member of the family - Lexi Star, a multiple stakes winner of $452,624.

A 6-year-old daughter of Crypto Star, who stands at Murmur Farm in Darlington, Md., Lexi Star is out of stakes-placed Frozen Lock (by Corridor Key), whose dam, Reykjavik's Pride (by Akureyri) was a half-sister to Kattegat's Pride. Lexi Star has also been trained throughout her career by Grove, who is pointing her to the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap this summer.

Matriarch Kattegat's Pride remains a pensioner at St. Omer's. At 29, she's "as mean as ever," said Sue Quick.