06/04/2004 12:00AM

Slew Valley gets a stakes in due time


Entrepreneur Jim Hindman has had many successes over his lifetime, perhaps none more notable than creating Jiffy Lube International, the auto service company whose motto is to "get you out in a jiffy." So it seems a bit contradictory that the finest Thoroughbred runner Hindman has bred would take his time, getting his first stakes victory at age 7.

Slew Valley, a son of former Maryland sire Valley Crossing, captured Woodbine's Grade 3 Connaught Cup on May 30 finally to put an end to his "bridesmaid" status. Campaigned in the name of Hindman's Rich Meadow Farm, Slew Valley has had a selective career, competing primarily in graded stakes on the turf since making his debut in the spring of his 3-year-old season. From 28 career starts, Slew Valley has appeared in 18 graded races, hitting the board in eight, and finishing in blanket finishes in several others.

Slew Valley's talent was evident after Grade 1 placings in Belmont's Man o' War Stakes (second to Lunar Sovereign) last summer, and third-place finishes in two runnings of Saratoga's Sword Dancer Handicap, behind Whitmore's Conn last year and With Anticipation in 2001. But it appeared he might never get a stakes win. Thus a need for a change, said Hindman's racing manager, Marc Wampler, of Classic Thoroughbreds International in Lexington, Ky.

"Slew Valley is a big, long-striding horse," said Wampler of the 17-hand runner, "and it's harder for a big horse to handle two turns when running a distance of ground." Wampler pointed out that at Woodbine, "he can run a distance with only one turn." Slew Valley raced three or four wide in the 1 1/16-mile Connaught Cup, then battled the length of the stretch with Canadian champion Le Cinquieme Essai to get his nose in front at the wire. Slew Valley's gritty performance in that $150,000 stakes helped boost his career earnings to $567,460.

Plans now call for Slew Valley to remain in Canada with trainer Reade Baker. He could return to the states in the fall to compete in the Maryland Million Turf on Oct. 9 at Laurel Park.

Slew Valley may be Hindman's most notable runner, but Hindman's Rich Meadow Farm near Westminster, Md., has had other successes in less than 10 years in existence, primarily in the sales ring. Hindman purchased the property, which covers 90 acres, in 1995, after "wanting to get in the horse business," and set about acquiring broodmares.

One of the first mares he and his wife, Dixie, purchased in the winter of 1996 was Slewway, an 8-year-old daughter of Slewpy in foal to Pentelicus. After producing a colt that spring, Slewway was sent to Valley Crossing, a Grade 1-winning millionaire standing at the Boniface family's Bonita Farm. Slew Valley was born the following year.

"He was a big, gangly colt who plodded along," said Hindman. And everyone agreed Slew Valley would not be a good sales prospect. "He was like an ugly duckling who grew into a swan."

While Slew Valley was a gawky yearling, his female line strengthened with the success of Slewway's third foal, the Valid Appeal colt K.J.'s Appeal, who won two graded stakes at age 4, including the Grade 1 Meadowlands Cup, and earned $563,880. Slewway, now a pensioner at Rich Meadow Farm, produced a total of eight foals - four for Hindman - and has six winners. Her final foal, the 4-year-old filly Heir to the Queen, by King of Kings, was winless in two starts and joined Rich Meadow's broodmare band this spring after being bred to Silver Charm.

Among Hindman's other early broodmare purchases were the well-known Maryland racemare Pot of Antics (by Anticipating) and the Alleged mare Tom's a La Mode. Both mares helped solidify Hindman's reputation of having a Midas touch, when Hindman sold Tom's a La Mode's Unbridled colt for $525,000 at Fasig-Tipton July in 2000 and Pot of Antics's yearling filly by Siphon for $520,000 the following September at Keeneland. Pot of Antics produced her final foal, a Mazel Trick filly, this spring and will live alongside Slewway in retirement.