02/11/2005 12:00AM

Small-town filly revealing big talent

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Eclipse Award winner Declan's Moon is not the only Maryland-bred 3-year-old stirring up excitement early this season.

Maddalena, a freakishly fast filly who is part of trainer Todd Pletcher's Florida-based contingent, is ranked third nationally in her division by Daily Racing Form's Mike Watchmaker, following a dominating performance in Gulfstream Park's Grade 3 Old Hat Stakes on Feb. 5.

Making her stakes debut in the Old Hat, Maddalena won by 7 1/4 lengths, covering 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.31.

Maddalena is now 3 for 3 in her career and has won her starts by a combined total of just under 20 lengths. She earned a 102 Beyer Speed Figure when she won in allowance company at Gulfstream on Jan. 16 and equaled that figure in the Old Hat.

"This filly has been pretty special since day one," said Pletcher, who is aiming Maddalena next for the Grade 2 Forward Gal Stakes at seven furlongs on March 5, which is also the date Declan's Moon is expected to make his 2005 debut in the Santa Catalina.

Like Declan's Moon, Maddalena (by Kentucky sire Good and Tough) rose from humble origins. Foaled and raised at Jerry and Laurie Calhoun's Summer Wind Farm in Libertytown, Maddalena was bred by Alan Hilburg, an Alexandria, Va., businessman who kept her dam, Two Foxie (by Fair Skies), as his only broodmare.

Hilburg sold Maddalena for $60,000 at the 2003 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale, and she was resold for $425,000 at the 2004 Fasig-Tipton Florida February sale of 2-year-olds in training. Purchased at the juvenile auction by Demi O'Byrne, Maddalena has made her career for owners Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor.

Maddalena's success is thrilling, if not financially rewarding, for the Calhouns, who have been involved with her family for many years.

Two Foxie's half-brother Foxie G (1991, Horatius) had a hickory-tough career in Maryland, winning or placing in 16 stakes, including a victory in the Maryland Million Sprint, for earnings of $392,539. Foxie G raced most of his career for the Capuano family and ranks among their all-time best buys. Phil Capuano bought Foxie G as a yearling, with very low expectations, for $2,000.

Because he was plagued with various physical ailments, Foxie G spent considerable time as a layup at Summer Wind during his racing career. For the last several years, he has lived there as a pensioner.

"We really got to know him," said Jerry Calhoun. "He's a special horse, and the whole family is special."

The Calhouns bought Two Foxie, who is a year younger than Foxie G, at the end of her racing career in 1997. Far less illustrious than Foxie G, Two Foxie, who was trained by Dale Capuano, won or placed in 11 of 16 starts and earned $57,242. Two Foxie produced her first two foals for the Calhouns, after which they sold her privately to Hilburg.

"She had some bad luck - her 2001 foal by Not for Love died," said Calhoun. "But we were all amazed by what happened to her in the spring of 2002. After foaling Maddalena here at Summer Wind, Two Foxie was sent to Kentucky for breeding to Editor's Note. Everything went fine, then in the van on the way back home Two Foxie colicked with Maddalena by her side.

"The van was re-routed to the Spurlock Equine Center in Lovettsville, Va., where Two Foxie had surgery," he said. "All three made it through just fine - Two Foxie, Maddalena, and the foal Two Foxie was carrying."

The Editor's Note-Two Foxie filly brought $10,000 at the 2004 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale.

Hilburg sold Two Foxie privately last fall to other clients of Summer Wind. Barren for 2005, she continues to be boarded at Summer Wind and is booked this season to Cuvee, who, like Maddalena's sire Good and Tough, is a son of Carson City.