06/26/2008 11:00PM

Smart and Fancy comes into her own

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Smart and Fancy, the 5-year-old Maryland-bred mare who rallied to a four-length victory in the Buckland Stakes at Colonial Downs last weekend, has a way of making the racing business look easy.

She's "like every parent's dream child," says her trainer, Tony Dutrow. "She's always where she's supposed to be, doing what she's supposed to do."

Sent off as the 8-5 favorite in the field of nine with Edgar Prado aboard in the Buckland, a 5 1/2-furlong turf race for fillies and mares, Smart and Fancy overcame a poor start and circled six rivals in the upper stretch before drawing off to her ninth stakes win.

A daughter of leading Maryland sire Not for Love, Smart and Fancy was not an instant success. It took her three tries to win her maiden, in September 2005.

But that was the beginning of a streak of 17 consecutive in-the-money finishes that has continued over four seasons of racing.

Smart and Fancy has racked up 11 victories, on dirt and turf and in the mud, at four different tracks, with her most notable performances including two Maryland Million Day victories and a close third behind Oprah Winney and Silmaril in last year's edition of the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Breeders' Cup Handicap.

In 19 career starts, she has earned $603,443.

Dutrow, who co-owns Smart and Fancy with Richard Frisina, Alvin Akman, and Stuart Grant, purchased Smart and Fancy for $47,000 at the 2004 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale.

She was consigned to the sale by her breeders, Tom and Chris Bowman, who had recommended her to Dutrow a few months earlier.

Dutrow visited the Bowmans' Roland Farm in Chesapeake City, Md., where their daughter, bloodstock agent Becky Davis, was preparing the youngsters, and came away "very confident that we would buy her," he says. "We would have paid more than $47,000 for her."

Although she was a standout based on looks, Smart and Fancy (out of the Shelter Half mare Substitute Teacher) scared off some buyers because endoscoping, to assess her respiratory system, was not performed prior to the sale, according to Davis.

"She was always tough to handle - actually vicious," said Davis. "And we were never able to get close enough to her with the scope."

Almost certainly, Smart and Fancy did not have a wind problem, and her personality issues soon resolved.

"She wasn't crazy," says Bowman. "She just needed something to do. She was a serious athlete, even then."

Smart and Fancy is by far the most accomplished runner in her immediate female family, although her dam also made her mark with consistency, winning or placing in 11 of 14 career starts and earning $76,525.

The Bowmans, Maryland's leading breeders in each of the last three years, acquired Substitute Teacher privately in a package deal back in 2001 from Suzanne Moscarelli, owner of Country Roads Farm in Warwick, Md.

Also in the package was Hot Story, the Two Punch mare now famous as the dam of 2007 Eclipse Award-winning steeplechaser Good Night Shirt. Maryland-bred Good Night Shirt is well on his way to another title, having won Grade 1 stakes in each of his two outings this season.

Substitute Teacher produced five foals before Smart and Fancy came along. Four of them raced, each winning. The best was Piccolo Honey, a 1999 filly by Afternoon Deelites who won 17 of 49 career starts, earning $305,027.

The Bowmans bred only one more foal from Substitute Teacher, the 4-year-old Allen's Prospect filly Studious, before her death in 2006.

The second-leading female earner for Not for Love, Smart and Fancy could gain the No. 1 ranking before her career ends.

Dutrow has two more races on Smart and Fancy's agenda: Delaware Park's Light Hearted Stakes on July 13 and Philadelphia Park's Turf Amazon Handicap on Sept. 27, both five-furlong turf races that Smart and Fancy won in 2007.

Her next stop after that will be the Keeneland November sale.