08/21/2003 11:00PM

Too Chic, foundation mare, dead


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Too Chic, Grade 1 winner and a foundation mare for Emory Alexander Hamilton's successful breeding program, was euthanized Thursday at Middlebrook Farm because of the infirmities of old age. A Blushing Groom mare, she was 24 years old.

Too Chic's success at the track and as a broodmare fueled modern-day success for one of the sport's great breeding dynasties. King Ranch, the legendary nursery founded by Robert J. Kleberg Jr., bred the filly in Kentucky and sent her to auction at Fasig-Tipton's 1980 July yearling sale. Kleberg had died in 1974, leaving one of his granddaughters, Helen Alexander, to manage the farm's operations. Overseen by Alexander, the King Ranch consignment was Fasig-Tipton July's leading seller in 1980, a standing helped by Too Chic's $100,000 sale. British bloodstock agent Tom Cooper signed the ticket for the yearling filly out of Remedia (by Dr. Fager), but he was acting for another Kleberg granddaughter, Emory Alexander, who, like her sister, maintained her own racing stable in addition to her involvement in the family's ranch.

"She was the best filly on the farm as a weanling and early in her yearling year," Helen Alexander recalled. "But, for some reason, close to the sale, she started to walk her stall. I was disappointed. She lost some weight. But when Emory bought her, she said, 'I don't mind. I like her, and I'm going to do well with her.' And she did. The funny thing is, once they put a saddle on Too Chic at the track, she never walked her stall again. She wanted something to do."

Trained by James Maloney, the filly raced eight times. She finished second in the Alabama and Wistful Stakes, but the highlight of her career was her victory in the 1982 Maskette, which gave her Grade 1-winning status. Just nine days before, she had run 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.40, equaling Belmont's track mark held by Forego and Prove Out.

But it was as a broodmare that Too Chic left her most indelible mark. Her first foal, a Mr. Prospector filly, grew up to be Chic Shirine, who lived up to her Grade 1 heritage by winning the 1987 Ashland Stakes. Chic Shirine went on to produce Grade 2 winners Waldoboro and Tara Roma. Tara Roma is the dam of Grade 1 winner Serra Lake and ungraded stakes-winner Cappuchino.

Too Chic's second foal, also by Mr. Prospector, was even better. Named Queena, she proved to be a gold mine both on the racetrack and in the breeding shed. Like her dam, Queena won the Maskette, but she improved the family record by taking two other Grade 1 races - the Ruffian and Ballerina - as well as the Grade 2 First Flight and Grade 3 Vagrancy handicaps. Voted champion older mare in 1991, Queena went on to produce a string of high-priced yearlings who sold first through King Ranch and later through Helen Alexander's Middlebrook Farm. Those included Grade 1 winner Brahms, a $1 million sale yearling; the $2.2 million A.P. Indy colt Indy King; $775,000 Danzig colt Mendelssohn; and $500,000 Danzig colt Sobieski. Queena has a Danzig colt in the Sept. 8 session at Keeneland's September yearling auction. She also has a promising 2-year-old filly named La Reina, by A.P. Indy, that Shug McGaughey trains for Hamilton.

"We're hopeful she'll carry on for my sister," Alexander said.

Too Chic will be buried at Middlebrook Farm near Lexington alongside the 1983 Broodmare of the Year, Courtly Dee.

Dispute over Rock of Gibraltar

Coolmore's chief, John Magnier, and the Manchester United soccer team manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, who owned multiple Group 1 winner Rock of Gibraltar together, are now embroiled in a public dispute over the stallion. The London Evening Standard reported this week that Ferguson is prepared to sue Magnier for an interest in Rock of Gibraltar, a 4-year-old son of Danehill, whose stud fees are expected to generate tens of millions of dollars in the near future. According to English reports, the feud began when Magnier allegedly denied that Ferguson's half-share in Rock Gibraltar was meant to extend into the horse's lucrative breeding career. Magnier so far has not commented publicly on the allegation.

* Twelve-year-old stallion Lahint, a Grade 2-placed stakes winner in the United States, died Aug. 8 of an aneurysm at Haras de Saint-Gatien in France. The Woodman horse won the 1995 Afleet Handicap and 1996 Connaught Cup.

* The Deauville yearling sale from Aug. 23-27 will be televised live for the first time on the French equine satellite channel Equidia, which has outlets in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.