08/27/2004 12:00AM

Smart shopping yields Spa victor


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - A business meeting that took place about 15 years ago turned into a successful racing partnership that has produced a very promising New York-bred 2-year-old.

Galloping Grocer, a son of New York-based sire A. P Jet, impressively won a statebred maiden race at Saratoga last Sunday in his career debut. Galloping Grocer, a chestnut colt, won the five-furlong race by 11 3/4 lengths under a hand ride and covered the distance in 56.88 seconds, just .17 seconds off the track record. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 95.

Although his next start is undetermined, it appears likely Galloping Grocer, who is trained by Dominic Schettino, will meet stakes company before the year is out.

Galloping Grocer was bred by Bob Rosenthal and the estate of Ira Waldbaum. Rosenthal, the managing partner, owns the colt in partnership with Bernice Waldbaum, the widow of Ira Waldbaum.

Rosenthal, the chairman of First Long Island Investors, a wealth management company, met Ira Waldbaum when he came to Rosenthal's office about 15 years ago. Waldbaum, the co-founder and chief executive officer of the grocery chain bearing his name, saw three papers on Rosenthal's desk: Barron's, the Wall Street Journal, and Daily Racing Form.

"He said, 'My God, I'm going to invest my family's money with someone who is reading the Racing Form,' " Rosenthal recalled. "He was intrigued by racing and asked if he could become my partner in a horse. I repeatedly told him no, because some people don't have the temperament for it. He kept asking, and finally I made him a partner in Little Evie."

Little Evie, Galloping Grocer's dam, was privately purchased by Rosenthal. She was stakes placed on dirt and turf and won on both surfaces, at distances ranging from seven furlongs to 1 1 /16 miles.

Little Evie, an 18-year-old daughter of Northrop, became Rosenthal's first broodmare. Rosenthal currently has four mares and boards them at Indigo Farm, where Galloping Grocer was born, in Clinton Corners, N.Y. The majority of the horses raced by Rosenthal are New York-breds.

Galloping Grocer received his name in honor of the late Waldbaum, whose wife asked Rosenthal if the colt could be named for her husband, who died in 2002 at age 76.

Galloping Grocer is Little Evie's 11th foal. Her top money-earner is Little General, who won $158,675 for Rosenthal. From nine runners, she has had five winners.

Little Evie is currently in foal to New York sire Regal Classic and had a colt by Cryptoclearance this year.

Rosenthal, 55, said he and Schettino collaborate on the matings for Little Evie and liked A. P Jet, who stands at Howard Kaskel's Sugar Maple Farm in Poughquag. A. P Jet, a 15-year-old son of Fappiano, entered stud in 1997 after a solid racing career in Japan, where he earned approximately $1.4 million. Among A. P Jet's six stakes winners is his top earner, Travelator, a multiple stakes winner with $360,311 in earnings. The day before Galloping Grocer's win, another one of A. P Jet's sons, Jini's Jet, scored his ninth stakes win in the Thomas Moran at Suffolk Downs.

From five crops to race, A. P Jet's progeny earnings are closing in on $7 million. His 176 starters have combined for more than 2,200 starts and 300 wins.

Rosenthal said that he and Schettino discussed A. P Jet's prospects, "and believed he was a good young stallion. We thought he was an up-and-coming stallion."

Schettino, who has trained for Rosenthal for more than 10 years, said unlike most of Little Evie's other foals, Galloping Grocer is on the large side. "He's 16 or 16-2 hands - a big-boned and gorgeous individual," Schettino said.

Rosenthal is excited about Galloping Grocer's future, but for now is content to bask in last Sunday's win.

"I'm on cloud nine to win a race at Saratoga," Rosenthal said. "The whole world was watching. This is great for my family and the Waldbaums."

Thunderello moving to New York

Thunderello, a stakes winner and the runner-up in the 2002 Breeders' Cup Sprint, will stand stud at Sugar Maple Farm in 2005. A stud fee has not been announced.

Thunderello stood his first two seasons at Walmac International near Lexington, Ky. Windmill Manor Farm acquired Thunderello, a 5-year-old son of Montbrook, during his first year at stud and currently own the horse.

Thunderello's dam, On the Square, is a daughter of In Reality.