07/17/2003 11:00PM

Stakes winner wasn't a part of initial plan


What does one do with the barn pet when she's a racemare and the time has come to retire her?

Jamie Lenes did not intend to become a Thoroughbred breeder, but he headed in that direction with Loaded for Bear. The result of his short venture in the breeding business with one mare is two-time Rocket Man Stakes winner Baby Shark.

Loaded for Bear had provided a number of milestones for the Lenes family. Claimed by Lenes's father, Mark, in the early 1990's, Loaded for Bear was the senior Lenes's first racehorse, and first winner.

Jamie Lenes, now 27, became enamored by track life in his mid-teens and got a trainer's license by the time he was 21. While working on the backstretch around Loaded for Bear, who had been competing successfully in lower-level claiming races, Lenes offered to buy her from his father. The first time Loaded for Bear raced in Jamie Lenes's colors, she won.

But within a few months, Loaded for Bear had tailed off and Lenes entered the breeding business.

While attempting to make a go as a trainer with a small string of horses at Laurel, Lenes sent Loaded for Bear to Jerry and Laurie Calhoun's Summer Wind Farm in Libertytown, Md., where Dover Ridge, a stakes-winning son of Riva Ridge out of Ruffian's half-sister Laughter, held court. Lenes got three foals from the mare, two by Dover Ridge.

Lenes trained Loaded for Bear's first foal, named Baby Bear, but soon opted for a different career path and decided to sell the mare and her offspring in 1999. Baby Shark (by Dover Ridge), the mare's second foal, was sold privately as a yearling. Loaded for Bear and Baby Shark's weanling full sister, Lady Harlow, were sold to Maxine and Robert Walker. The Walkers still own Loaded for Bear, a daughter of Bear Hunt, who delivered a filly by Meadow Monster this spring and was bred back to the speedy Bear Hunt.

Baby Shark, under the tutelage of trainers Ben Feliciano and John Poe, has found a niche in races under six furlongs. Based at Laurel Park, he is a regular shipper to Charles Town for the 4 1/2-furlong sprints and has put together a record of 14 on-the-board finishes, including six victories, in 16 career starts. He has earned $198,767.

The quarter-mile Rocket Man Stakes, the first race on this year's Summit of Speed program at Calder on July 12 (though not one of the Summit races), has become a showcase for Baby Shark's talents. The gray spurted to a four-length victory in the 2002 running, equaling the track record, and repeated this year as the 2-5 favorite, winning by 1 1/4 lengths.

A stakes winner at Charles Town last fall, Baby Shark has made four starts this year, winning two and just failing to last when he finished second in the $100,000 Charles Town Dash in his outing before the Rocket Man. He also finished second to Native Heir in the five-furlong Ben Cohen Stakes at Pimlico in late May, earning a Maryland Fund breeder's bonus for Lenes.

Now a mortgage banker, Lenes doesn't discount another venture into racing.

"It's a great game," he said.

* Maryland's perennial leading sales sire, 20-year-old Two Punch, once again topped all Maryland sires at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky yearling sale. All four of his yearlings offered were sold, three bringing $100,000 or more, for an average of $135,000. Topping the Two Punch yearlings at $230,000 was a Pennsylvania-bred filly out of multiple stakes winner and stakes producer Carrie the Flag (by U.S. Flag).

* A limited number of tickets remain available for the Maryland premiere of Seabiscuit, to be shown Wednesday, July 23, at 8 p.m. at the historic Senator Theatre in Baltimore. Proceeds from the private screening are to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Maryland Horse Industry Foundation. Ticket information is available from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation at (410) 628-0795.