10/01/2004 12:00AM

Turf trio boosting El Prado's popularity


LEXINGTON, Ky. - El Prado already has been the leading sire in the U.S. by total progeny earnings, and he is the most successful son of the great stallion Sadler's Wells at stud in America or anywhere else. This year, three of the four best 3-year-old turf horses are by El Prado, with only Prince Arch (by Arch) by another sire.

El Prado's trio is Kitten's Joy, Timo, and Artie Schiller, who won the Jamaica Handicap last weekend in course-record time of 1:45.50 over the Belmont inner turf. With the accomplishments of his older runners, such as Medaglia d'Oro, and the current successes of his 3-year-olds, El Prado is in high demand as a stallion, and his stud fee recently was raised to $100,000 live foal for 2005.

El Prado stands at Adena Springs in Kentucky. Jack Brothers, from the Adena Springs operation, said, "The core of the decision to raise his fee is that he's been one-two on the sire list the past three years, he has so many loaded guns, and you have to step up at some point. This is the time.

"This year he has emerged with the three 3-year-olds, which could persuade you that he's primarily a turf sire. But if you look at his record overall, El Prado's earnings are divided pretty evenly between dirt and turf. They run short, long, early, and late. You can't heap enough accolades on a horse like El Prado and what he's done for our program."

With Medaglia d'Oro already retired to stud for next year, the younger stock will have to carry El Prado's banner, including two under consideration for the Breeders' Cup, Kitten's Joy and Artie Schiller.

Raised at the Mill Ridge Farm of John and Alice Chandler, Artie Schiller was bred by the de Moussac family of France, Alice Chandler said.

Chandler bred Epsom Derby and 2000 Guineas winner Sir Ivor, and she admitted gleefully, "I'm a big fan of El Prado because he's got Sir Ivor as his broodmare sire."

El Prado's dam is Lady Capulet, winner of the Irish 1000 Guineas. El Prado, a Group 1 winner at 2 in Ireland, is her best racer.

The de Moussac family's Haras du Mezeray S.A. bred Artie Schiller in Kentucky from the graded-stakes-winning Majestic Light mare Hidden Light, who won a trio of Oaks at Santa Anita, Hollywood, and Del Mar in 1986.

Bred by Howard Keck and raced by Elizabeth Keck, Hidden Light won 6 of her 12 starts, including two stakes on turf and two on dirt. A full brother, Grade 1 winner Prince True, showed good form on both surfaces, but won his most important races on turf in the San Juan Capistrano and San Luis Rey.

The Kecks also bred and raced Horse of the Year Ferdinand (by Nijinsky). After her retirement to stud, Hidden Light's first three foals were by Nijinsky and Ferdinand.

Keck dispersed his stock in 1996, selling Hidden Light at the Keene-land January sale, and Headley Bell's Nicoma Bloodstock, as agent for Haras du Mezeray, purchased Hidden Light for $190,000.

Bell said that he bought Hidden Light in the Keck dispersal with Antoinne Bozo, manager of Haras de Mezeray, and that she was barren at the time.

"So, she was a project," Bell said. "We bought her for good value, however, and she is just as pretty a mare as she was good on the track. She is true elegance. She had been bred to Ferdinand, and we thought we could put some Turn-to and Menow into the equation, and maybe liven things up some."

Haras du Mezeray has gotten two graded stakes horses from the first five foals they bred from the mare. But when Artie Schiller came to auction in 2002, he was a backward yearling, and his dam showed only one stakes horse, the Astoria Stakes third-place finisher Speed to Burn, from 10 previous foals. Many yearling selectors sharply downgrade prospects from a mare who doesn't immediately produce a top stakes horse, and partly as a result of this, William Entenmann was able to purchase Artie Schiller for $67,000 at the 2002 Keeneland September sale from the Mill Ridge consignment.

Alice Chandler said, "This colt was nice. He didn't sell for as much as he might have, but he got into good hands, and we're really happy."

Trained by Jimmy Jerkens, Artie Schiller races for Entenmann's Timber Bay Farm and Mrs. Thomas J. Walsh. Entenmann bred Sarava, the 2002 Belmont Stakes winner, who was retired from racing Wednesday.

With a multiple graded stakes winner on her produce record alongside other good winners, Hidden Light's yearling filly by Fusaichi Pegasus sold to Gainesway for $250,000 at this year's Keeneland September yearling sale. Mill Ridge Sales, again, was the consignor.

Hidden Light has a weanling colt by With Approval and is in foal to Elusive Quality on a June 10 cover.