09/29/2005 11:00PM

State loses one of its most successful breeders


New York breeding and racing lost an important contributor when Michael Watral died Sept. 17 at age 87.

Watral raced the brilliant Dixie Brass, a Grade 1 winner he later stood in New York for four seasons.

In 1992, Dixie Brass became the first 3-year-old to capture the Withers Stakes and Metropolitan Handicap, and did so in phenomenal fashion. In the Withers, he scored an 8 1/4-length victory and broke Dr. Fager's 25-year-old stakes record for the mile, finishing in 1:33.71. Nineteen days later, Dixie Brass captured the Grade 1 Metropolitan in the same time, winning by 2 1/4 lengths in a stellar field that included Pleasant Tap and Rubiano, the respective champion older male and sprinter of 1992.

Watral was the breeder of New York-bred stakes winners Undaunted Mettle and Strike the Brass, both of whom were sired by Dixie Brass when he stood in Kentucky from 1993 to 1997.

From 1998 until his death in 2002, Dixie Brass stood in New York. To date, he has 34 stakes winners and progeny earnings of more than $26.7 million. Dixie Brass's New York-conceived and New York-bred stakes winners include Beautiful America and Princess Dixie, both earners of more than $500,000. Dixie Brass also sired Dixie Dot Com, a multiple graded stakes winner who earned $1.3 million.

Another top runner campaigned by Watral was Packett's Landing, an earner of $799,769 whom he purchased as a 4-year-old. Winner of the New York Derby and state champion 3-year-old of 1989, Packett's Landing also captured the Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Alex M. Robb, Rochester Cup, and Kings Point handicaps during his career.

Dennis Brida, who is executive director of New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc., trained both Dixie Brass and Packett's Landing.

"Mike never interfered with me in the training and day-to-day activities of the horses," said Brida. "We had a lot of success together with those two and some others I purchased for him. It was a great run."

Two big winners by Regal Classic

New York stallion Regal Classic, who stands at McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbred Farm, had his progeny earnings surge when two of his offspring won rich stakes in recent weeks.

His son Classic Pack won the $248,400 New York Breeders' Futurity on Labor Day by more than nine lengths and became Regal Classic's 46th stakes winner.

Two weeks later, Regal Classic's daughter Classic Stamp won the $316,536 Bell Canadian Handicap at Woodbine for the second straight year, increasing her earnings to $930,751. Classic Stamp may race next in the $1 million E.P. Taylor Stakes on Oct. 23. She is on track to become Regal Classic's second millionaire, joining Australian Group 1 winner Regal Roller.

Regal Classic has also sired the top runners Inish Gloria, One Way Love, Regal Discovery, Regal Sanction, and Stephanotis. He has New York-conceived 2-year-olds and 3-year-olds in his latest racing crops and has moved into second place among New York stallions, with progeny earnings of $2,291,839 through Sept. 27. A. P Jet, who stands at Sugar Maple Farm, is in first place with earnings of $2,698,672.

Regal Classic, a 20-year-old son of Vice Regent, has lifetime progeny earnings in excess of $42 million. A multiple stakes winner through three seasons of racing, he finished second in the 1987 Breeders' Cup Juvenile and was also Canada's champion 2-year-old colt that year. He earned $1,456,584 during his career and captured eight stakes while placing in several Grade 1 events.

A half-brother to the outstanding Sky Classic and several other stakes winners, Regal Classic is out of No Class, a daughter of Nodouble. The family includes Eclipse champion Dance Smartly, plus major winners Smart Strike, Dancethruthedawn, Scatter the Gold, and Always a Classic.

Triocala dies at 27

Veteran New York stallion Triocala has died at age 27.

A son of Tri Jet, Triocala stood at Joe Bartone's and Carl Lizza's Highcliff Farm in Delanson. During his racing career, he captured the Nashua, Rockaway, and Count Fleet at Aqueduct and defeated such good runners as Engine One and Summing.

Triocala made 63 starts over four campaigns, winning or placing in 15 stakes races and earning $465,660.

Triocala's son Tri for the Gold won the Grade 3 Garden State Stakes in April 1993.