12/23/2004 1:00AM

Splendid Blended tops off year for sire


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Splendid Blended became the 13th stakes winner this year for her sire, Unbridled's Song, with a two-length win in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet.

It was a thoroughly successful year for Unbridled's Song, a gray son of Unbridled. Among his best racehorses in 2004 were a pair of leading juveniles in Splendid Blended and Remsen Stakes winner Rockport Harbor. Both 2-year-olds should become even better racehorses as 3-year-olds, considering they have shown their best form around two turns.

After winning her first stakes in the Starlet, Splendid Blended has a record of 3 victories from 4 starts this season. Her only loss came against probable Eclipse Award winner Sweet Catomine in the Oak Leaf Stakes on Oct. 2. In her next start, Sweet Catomine won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies impressively against a top-notch field to clinch her claim as leading 2-year-old filly.

Splendid Blended is raced by Peter Vegso, who also bred her in Florida. Vegso is publisher of the best-selling series of books "Chicken Soup for the Soul," and owns Racing Edge farm near Ocala, Fla.

Before Splendid Blended, Vegso's best-known homebred was Silver Tree, a classy turf racer who won the Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga this year and the Virginia Derby last year. As part of his overall program, Vegso breeds both to race and to sell, and as part of this plan, has acquired quality breeding stock during the past few years.

Vegso bred Splendid Blended from the unraced Valid Appeal mare Valid Blend, who was bred in Florida by Harry Mangurian. Vegso purchased Valid Blend, carrying Splendid Blended, for $235,000 at the 2001 Keeneland November breeding stock sale, when Valid Blend was consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency, agent.

Valid Blend produced Splendid Blended as her sixth foal, thanks largely to the success of the mare's third foal, graded stakes winner Richly Blended. A winner in 4 of his 6 starts, Richly Blended won the Gotham Stakes and Withers in 2001, both at a mile, and was third in the Wood Memorial. In one season of racing, Richly Blended earned $323,280.

But Richly Blended's significance to Valid Blend in the marketplace went far beyond his own earnings. Being a graded-stakes producer in foal to a premium Kentucky-based stallion significantly raised the value of Valid Blend from her previous sales. As a yearling from the Mockingbird Farm consignment, Valid Blend sold to George Steinbrenner's Kinsman Farm for $45,000 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's 1993 August yearling sale. In 1999, Mockingbird consigned Valid Blend to the OBS mixed sale when she was in foal to Mockingbird Farm stallion Storm Creek, and she sold to Hartley/DeRenzo for $35,000, $200,000 less than what she sold for in 2001.

The success of Richly Blended also moved Valid Blend up in the breeder's choices for her mates. Following her filly by Unbridled's Song, now named Splendid Blended, Valid Blend has a yearling colt by Red Ransom named Well Blended and was barren to Lemon Drop Kid in 2004.

Taylor Made, as agent for Vegso, consigned Splendid Blended to the 2003 Keeneland September yearling sale, and she was a buyback at $250,000. That has proven a smart decision, and this season her earnings to date are $327,400.

Unbridled's Song stands at Taylor Made Farm near Nicholasville, Ky., and his fee will remain at $125,000 in 2005. Splendid Blended and Rockport Harbor were bred on the $75,000 fee from Unbridled's Song's 2001 book of mares.

The most accomplished stallion to date by Unbridled, Unbridled's Song won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at 2 and the Florida Derby and Wood Memorial at 3. He started as the favorite for the 1996 Kentucky Derby, which was won by another son of Unbridled, Grindstone. Grindstone has also made a serious mark this season as the sire of Belmont and Travers stakes winner Birdstone. Unbridled's young sons at stud include Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker, Preakness winner Red Bullet, Iselin winner Broken Vow, Remsen winner Saarland, along with Malabar Gold and Wheelaway.

In addition to Rockport Harbor, Unbridled's Song's other significant performers in 2004 include Rare Gift, winner of the Ladies Handicap at 1 1/4 miles last weekend, as well as Domestic Dispute (Strub Stakes), Even the Score (Californian, Mervyn LeRoy), Last Song (Bonnie Miss Stakes), and Forest Music (Miss Preakness Stakes).