06/21/2007 11:00PM

Twilight Meteor lands back home


The importance and tradition of the Queen's Plate, Canada's most famous horse race, is not lost on John Fort.

Twilight Meteor, whom Fort bought at a Kentucky yearling sale for $150,000, will be among the favorites in Sunday's race in his first start on Canadian soil.

The bright chestnut 3-year-old colt has a deep Canadian pedigree as a son of Sam-Son Farms' homebred Smart Strike (a son of Queen's Plate winner Dance Smartly) and One Over Prime (a daughter of Queen's Plate and Canadian Triple Crown winner With Approval).

The colt was bred by David Willmot's Kinghaven Farms, who sold Twilight Meteor for $57,000 as a weanling at the 2004 Keeneland November mixed sale. The buyers were college kids, sons of Kentucky horsemen, who were buying their first horse. They pinhooked the colt the following summer at Fasig-Tipton.

"I am an enormous admirer of David Willmot and the accomplishments of Kinghaven Farms," said Fort, whose Thoroughbred operation is known as Peachtree Stable. "I loved the [female] family and he was just gorgeous, a bit small but so beautiful, with an excellent straight hind leg."

One Over Prime never raced but was the first foal of Primarily, a stakes-winning Kentucky-bred 2-year-old bought for $55,000 at auction and raced by Kinghaven.

Primarily, by Lord at War, raced only four times before she went to the breeding shed.

Following One Over Prime, the mare produced five more foals for Kinghaven, including Whiskey Wisdom (by Wild Again), a Grade 3 stakes winner and now an Ontario sire, and champion 2-year-old fillies Primaly (by Alydeed) and Poetically (Silver Deputy).

Primarily was a money machine for Kinghaven as the farm sold her to Frank Stronach for $2.2 million in foal to Storm Cat at the 1998 Keeneland November sale. Poetically sold to B. Wayne Hughes for $2.05 million at the 2003 Keeneland November sale in foal to A.P. Indy.

Stronach got six foals from Primarily, the first three with collective earnings of just over $100,000, and the mare's Lemon Drop Kid filly Citronnade burst onto the turf scene this winter. Citronnade has won Grade 1, 2, and 3 events for Stronach this year.

Primarily died in 2005 from injuries sustained in a paddock accident.

As for One Over Prime, she produced six foals before her death in 2005. Three of those foals raced and won, including Twilight Meteor, her last foal.

Twilight Meteor is only the third Canadian-bred owned by Fort, who has raced such good runners as Invisible Ink, who was second in the 2001 Kentucky Derby to Monarchos.

"The best horse I have ever seen or ever owned was a Canadian-bred," said Fort. "His name was Shrike and I bought him for $110,000 as a yearling."

Shrike, a son of Afleet from the Lypheor mare Stormeor - from the Richard Kennedy Thoroughbred breeding program - was plagued with stress fractures throughout his career, but was a stakes winner in Florida and won five races.

The horse went to Manitoba to stand at stud but was recently bought back by Fort, who was concerned that the horse was not thriving in his new career.

"He's now a teaching stallion for the University of Florida and living a very happy life," he said.

Fort has a Canadian-bred maiden winner named Kestrel (by Shrike) in his stable. Kestrel is a half-brother to last year's Woodbine Oaks winner Gold Strike.

A win by Twilight Meteor in the Plate would be the biggest victory in the history of Peachtree, which syndicates many of its horses.

"We are very honored to be in the race," Fort said. "It would a great achievement for us."