05/24/2007 11:00PM

Small is good at Rainbow Ridge

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Dennis and Debby Brown quietly have created a small but successful breeding and racing operation at Rainbow Ridge Training Centre in Schomberg, Ontario, without the benefit of flashy pedigrees or a large horse population.

"We have no aspirations of being a Windfields Farm," said Dennis Brown. "We have a small 66-acre farm that caters to three or four clients and our own small group of mares."

The Browns took advantage of some luck that went their way when they first came into the business seven years ago.

"I had an office furniture business and then sold it when we moved to the United States," said Brown. "When we came back to Ontario, my daughter was into jumpers and we bought a mare for her that turned out to be too big for her to ride. It was a Thoroughbred mare so we bred her."

So the mare, Bold Vicky, a daughter of the modest sire Bold Revenue, was bred to little-known Ontario sire Grey Counter and produced Bold Little Lass, now an earner of $245,000 for the Browns, who race under Clarity Stables.

"We kept [Bold Little Lass] to race because I was too embarrassed of her pedigree to put her in a sale," Brown said.

Around the time Bold Little Lass was being broken to saddle, Brown bought three yearlings at auction and part of a gelding by another inexpensive local sire, Compadre.

While the yearlings did not turn out, the Compadre gelding, No Comprende, developed into one of Canada's top handicap horses, under the care of trainer Jim Smith.

"We got really lucky stumbling into him," said Brown, who eventually bought out his partner, Clint Abraham, and owned No Comprende outright.

No Comprende won the 2003 Woodbine Slots Cup, a Grade 3 race, and placed in several other graded stakes races.

The highlight of the gelding's career, according to Brown, was his fourth-place finish in the Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap.

"That was a dream for us," he said. "Before Debby and I got married, we would always visit Saratoga and wondered what it would be like to race a horse there. He was a very special horse."

Brown happened into another profitable venture five years ago, when he bought Rainbow Ridge.

China Ruckus, a stakes-winning son of top Canadian stallion Bold Ruckus, was boarded at the farm by owner Jim McNair, and Brown started up a small breeding business with the horse.

One of the mares he bred to Bold Ruckus was Scrabble Queen, whom he collected when a client could not pay the bills on the horse. "She had foaled late and I didn't know what to do with her, so I just bred her to China Ruckus," Brown said.

The resulting foal, Armed and Hammered, won his career debut for the Brown family last weekend at Woodbine in an Ontario-sired maiden event. Greg De Gannes trains the fleet 3-year-old.

"He's the best-looking horse I have ever bred," said Brown. "We hope he is going to improve, too."

China Ruckus left Rainbow Ridge a few years ago, given away by McNair to Les Baker, the owner of Red Oak Training Centre in Zephyr, Ontario, as a teaser.

China Ruckus has sired a few foals in recent years, from Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse mares.

Rainbow Ridge's day-to-day office operations are run by by Brown's niece Darlene, and much of the barn work is done by Brown and his farm manager, Joan Maxwell. "It's a training center that is making a bit of money now," said Brown. "And it's a great place for me to work."