08/19/2002 11:00PM

Soaring remains strong turf influence


LAS VEGAS - Jimmy Toner has been blessed with some fine turf fillies, most of them a result of impeccable bloodlines cultivated over decades by Darby Dan Farm. Soaring Softly, a daughter of Kris S. (Roberto) out of the Key to the Mint mare Wings of Grace, won the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf in 1999 en route to an Eclipse Award, and Toner has had remarkable success with this female line.

Last Sunday, Wonder Again, a daughter of Silver Hawk (Roberto) from the same prolific female family, won the Lake Placid Handicap at Saratoga for Toner, paying $11. Wonder Again has now won three consecutive grass races and although she was making the jump from allowance company to stakes, she had the credentials to pull off the victory. Wonder Again is a full sister to Grass Wonder, who was a champion at 2 in Japan, and the females in her family have been exceptional broodmares.

The class of this female line traces to the Swaps mare Soaring, the fourth dam of Wonder Again and the third dam of Soaring Softly. Soaring, a foal of 1960, was a modest filly, placing once in only five starts, but she not only produced two stakes winners, Mehmet and Miss Swapsco, her daughters and granddaughters have had a far-reaching effect as broodmares, assuring Soaring a place in history.

As with most truly great broodmares, it didn't matter to whom Soaring was bred. Her influential daughters were all by different stallions, and include Miss Swapsco (Cohoes), Far Beyond (Nijinsky II), Pi Phi Gal (Raise a Native), and Liberty Spirit (Graustark).

Miss Swapsco, winner of the Ashland Stakes, has had the biggest impact on the breed. Her daughter Ballade (Herbager) was 1992 Broodmare of the Year, and her foals include stakes winners Glorious Song (Halo), Devil's Bag (Halo), Saint Ballado (Halo), and Thaidah (Vice Regent). Glorious Song was champion older mare in the United States and Horse of the Year in Canada, and has been just as amazing as a broodmare, producing 1996 champion turf horse Singspiel, as well as stakes winners and stallions Rahy and Rakeen.

Devil's Bag was 1984 2-year-old champion and although his full brother Saint Ballado was not as flashy, he won the Arlington Classic and Sheridan Stakes at 3 and has become a better stallion. Thaidah was a listed winner and group-placed in England. Since the mating of Ballade to Halo proved so successful, she was bred again to Halo and produced the unraced Angelic Song, the dam of stakes winners Sligo Bay and Lady Ballade.

Far Beyond established her own successful branch of this family, producing stakes winners Wings of Grace (Key to the Mint) and Carverali (Roberto), as well as stakes-placed Battle Creek Girl, who produced six stakes winners, including Wavering Girl (champion 2-year-old filly in Canada and dam of stakes winner Military), Tricky Creek, Parade Ground, Parade Leader, Speed Dialer, and Everhope. Battle Creek Girl also produced stakes-placed Swiss Asset and Matriarch, the dam of stakes winners Star of Valor and Fleet Wahine. Another daughter, Beribboned, is the dam of three stakes winners - Hippomenes, Chalee, and Swiss Echo.

Wings of Grace won the Boiling Springs Handicap and became an even better broodmare, producing champion Soaring Softly, and multiple stakes winner Plenty of Grace. Wings of Grace is also the second dam of stakes winners Bound by Honor, Duality, and Private Joe.

Pi Phi Gal, Soaring's daughter by Raise a Native, produced stakes winners Pi Phi Prince (champion older male in Puerto Rico) and she is also the second dam of stakes winners Graceful Darby, Tribulation, and Impatient.

Bred to the magnificent Graustark, Soaring produced Liberty Spirit, the dam of Flower Bowl Handicap winner Dawn's Curtsey.

With a family like this behind her, it's on to the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf for late-developing Wonder Again.

Storm Flag Flying looks impressive

Shug McGaughey unveiled a good-looking 2-year-old filly last Sunday in Storm Flag Flying, a regally bred daughter of Storm Cat out of Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner My Flag.

Sitting comfortably off the pace, Storm Flag Flying made a bold move around the far turn and despite running greenly in the stretch and never changing leads, she won going away. She is the second foal out of My Flag, who also won the Coaching Club American Oaks, Gazelle Handicap, Ashland, and Bonnie Miss stakes and finished third against males in the Belmont Stakes.

My Flag's first foal is On Parade, a full sister to Storm Flag Flying, who showed talent but has had physical problems. By champion Easy Goer out of undefeated champion Personal Ensign, My Flag was the result of breeding "the best to the best."

Distance limitations

Orchard Park and You were examples of classy stakes horses who were out of their element last weekend, trying distances well beyond their scope.

Orchard Park, a son of speed influence Hennessy, was the heavy favorite in the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park based on his consistent record on the grass. Although he won at 1 1/4 miles previously, he was facing better horses in the Secretariat who were expected to improve at longer distances.

Chiselling, a late-blooming son of Woodman out of the marvelous broodmare Toussaud, won the race in a thrilling finish over European invader Jazz Beat. Orchard Park obviously has talent but should be kept to distances under 1 1/8 miles.

You was a complete toss-out in the Alabama Stakes, and ran gamely to finish a non-threatening third behind Farda Amiga and up-and-coming Allamerican Bertie. By miler You and I, You had already proven that she had distance limitations and was best up to 1 1/8 miles.

Farda Amiga (Broad Brush), who was making her first start since winning the Kentucky Oaks in May, is clearly the pro tem leader of a talented group of 3-year-old fillies.