02/14/2003 1:00AM

A simple strategy paying off handsomely


Spencer Young devised a plan for the blue-blooded Makin back in 1997, when the Danzig stallion was about to stand his first season at Young's Sunny Dell farm in Barboursville, Va. Young, who owns a half-interest in Makin with partners Gregory Fox and David Romanik, found as many solid, sound, proven racemares as he could afford and bred them to the horse.

Is a breeding program ever that simple? One would begin to think so after seeing Young's results. With a handful of mares, Young is nearly single-handedly making a name for Makin.

Last week, Native Heir, one of eight foals from Makin's first crop, roared home to win Gulfstream Park's Grade 3 Deputy Minister Handicap by 4 1/2 lengths, equaling a 46-year-old track record by going 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.17. And when the Experimental Free Handicap for 2-year-olds was released three weeks ago, on it was found the name Makin Heat, a two-time stakes-winning filly also bred by Young and one of six foals from Makin's third crop.

The Deputy Minister, Native Heir's 12th victory from 23 lifetime starts, pushed the 5-year-old horse's earnings to $402,436. Native Heir has competed in a number of stakes since late in his 2-year-old season, when he finished second in Aqueduct's Huntington Stakes to Songandaprayer. He has now won seven stakes races and placed in three, with the Deputy Minister his first in graded company.

Young purchased Mary Had a Lot, a daughter of Double Zeus who was barren at the time, to breed to Makin, with Native Heir the result of that first mating. Mary Had a Lot was a stakes-placed runner and a half-sister to a stakes-placed mare, Clever Mary, but she was even more attractive to Young because she had made 79 starts in six years.

Young decided to sell Native Heir at Fasig-Tipton Midlantic's Eastern fall yearling sale and, although Mary Had a Lot at the time had three winners from three foals, there was little black type on the page. "Everyone was shocked," said Young, when Native Heir brought $20,000, more than double of what most expected for a yearling by a stallion who stood for $1,500. Young also sold the yearling filly Makin Heat at the 2001 Eastern fall sale, getting $16,500.

"I really liked her and nearly bought her back," said Young. Makin Heat is out of Warmedbythesun (a daughter of Lobsang), an Irish-bred who made 93 starts over seven years of competition. Also proving a durable runner, Makin Heat started 11 times at 2, and counted among her four victories Laurel Park's Selima Stakes. She has earned $147,002.

Over the past two years, Young decided to cut back on his Thoroughbred holdings and sold or moved the majority of his horses. Young no longer owns Warmedbythesun, basically "giving her away," he said, and the partnership that owns Makin moved the stallion to O'Sullivan Farms in Charles Town, W.Va., in 2001. Makin covered 55 mares in his first season in West Virginia, more than his first four seasons combined.

Young is eager to see what numbers Makin will put up now that he has gotten more mares. This year, Makin has had 11 starters, nine winners, and average earnings per starter of $66,944.

"He puts out really good-looking foals who look like racehorses," noted Young.

The 13-year-old Makin's pedigree is one of quality, as he is out of Give Thanks, a champion and classic winner in Ireland by Relko who is also the granddam of English classic winner Harayir. The family also includes Epsom Derby winner Teenoso.

After Native Heir's score at Gulfstream, Young has been getting calls to send Mary Had a Lot to Kentucky to be bred, which Young has done the past two years. Mary Had a Lot has a yearling filly by Richter Scale and is due in April to the cover of Yankee Victor. Young hasn't decided where to send Mary Had a Lot this year once she foals, but it would seem hard to count out another trip to Makin, since the plan has worked so far.