03/25/2005 12:00AM

Stars arising from '03 yearling show


Winning a blue ribbon at the Maryland Horse Breeders Association's annual yearling show is no portent for future success on the racetrack. It has been that way since 1932, when Hall of Famer James E. "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons became the first of a long line of distinguished trainers to serve as judge for the event.

You wouldn't get that impression, however, by looking at the results of the 2003 yearling show, judged by trainer Barclay Tagg. Two of the six class winners selected by Tagg have become stakes winners, the most famous, of course, being 2004 Eclipse Award-winning juvenile Declan's Moon, whom Tagg pinned first among 23 Maryland-bred and Maryland-sired males.

Also catching Tagg's eye at the show, in the class for out-of-state sired fillies, was Thatswhatimean, a daughter of Belong to Me who is emerging as a top-class filly in California.

Making her stakes and turf debut in Santa Anita's one-mile China Doll Stakes on March 12, Thatswhatimean scored a hard-fought neck victory over several more accomplished rivals.

The stakes win underscores the horse savvy of Patrick Konka and Maureen Johnson of Bittersweet Farm in Westminster, Md., who bred Thatswhatimean and exhibited her at the show.

Konka and Johnson bought the dam of Thatswhatimean, Lucinda K (by Red Ransom), for $41,000 (with Thatswhatimean in utero) at the 2002 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky February sale. The couple watched Lucinda K's value soar as her son Atswhatimtalknbout, an A.P. Indy colt who sold for $900,000 at the 2002 Fasig-Tipton Florida February sale, developed into one of the top 3-year-olds of the 2003 season. Atswhatimtalknbout finished second in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes and fourth in the Santa Anita Derby and Kentucky Derby.

Commercial breeders who have developed their farm from the ground up, Johnson and Konka had been attracted to Lucinda K partly because of her pedigree and that of covering sire Belong to Me.

Lucinda K is a third-generation descendant of Hail to Reason, through Red Ransom's sire, Roberto. Belong to Me also traces back three generations to Hail to Reason, through his dam, Belonging, who was a daughter of Hail to Reason's champion daughter Straight Deal.

"Anytime you find a Hail to Reason mare, you want to inbreed back to him," said Johnson. "Belong to Me is one of the few stallions who offers that possibility."

Johnson and Konka bred Lucinda K back to Belong to Me in 2002, and in early 2003 they sold the pregnant mare for an undisclosed but substantial sum to Atswhatimtalknbout's owner, B. Wayne Hughes.

That fall, Konka and Johnson consigned Thatswhatimean to the Keeneland September yearling sale, where Hughes bought her for $375,000.

Thatswhatimean campaigns for Hughes and trainer Warren Stute. In five career starts, she has earned $95,700.

Who will be the stars of the 2005 MHBA yearling show? The public is invited to watch the event, which will take place June 26 at the Timonium Fairgrounds, in Timonium. This year's judge is Ben Perkins Sr.