05/14/2004 12:00AM

Twisted Wit carrying Clarkson hopes


The first time Ron Clarkson set eyes on Sandhill Charm, he was determined to buy that daughter of Vanlandingham.

"It was one of those things," said Clarkson, 65, a longtime owner and breeder in Ontario. "She didn't really have much pedigree but when they brought her out of the stall, I said, 'Wow.' I had to have her."

Clarkson paid $29,000 (U.S.) at the 2000 Keeneland January sale for the stakes-placed filly, a little more than he wanted to spend, but the risk has been worth every penny.

Sandhill Charm's second foal is multiple stakes winner Twisted Wit, whose Queenston Stakes victory on May 8 launched him into the Queen's Plate picture for owner Rolph Davis and trainer Robert Tiller.

Twisted Wit, a liver chestnut colt by the hot sire Danehill, was the only foal produced in 2001 on Clarkson's Rolling Ridge Farm, a 100-acre operation near Orangeville, Ontario, but after six career starts he has won three stakes and $334,665.

"He's our one big horse right now," said Clarkson, who owns Rolling Ridge with his wife, Renate.

Clarkson, who breeds to sell, sold Twisted Wit at the Woodbine yearling sale for $50,000 (Can.).

"I usually try to sell my horses, but if I can't, then I will race them," he said.

Last fall, Clarkson put a reserve of $50,000 on Twisted Wit's yearling half-sister by young stallion Randy Regent, and when the bidding stalled at $42,000, he took her home.

Now named Ren's Ruby, she is one of two racehorses for the Clarksons with trainer Scott Fairlie.

Clarkson rode horses over jumps as a child and bought his first broodmare when he was 21.

"I always wanted to get into Thoroughbreds," said Clarkson, whose first sales yearling brought a bid of just $900.

"I've been playing around since I was in my 20's. I have been up as far as five mares, but now I board a lot more than I own."

Clarkson keeps up to 35 horses at his farm during the winter months for clients such as Harvey Tenenbaum, Sue Leslie, and Joan Fisher.

Rolling Ridge had three foals of its own this spring and will have five mares foaling in 2005.

A former market gardener of apples and strawberries, Clarkson sold that business a decade ago to concentrate on the horse business.

He considers Miss L. Damar, a foal of 1970, his first good mare. A daughter of Windkin, she produced the Clarkson's stakes-winning filly Miss R. Regent.

Clarkson also bred Cozy's Cousin, who won the 1973 Cup and Saucer Stakes at Woodbine.

Beau's Barb, a $1,000 purchase who produced three stakes winners including Mr. R. Ruler, was another good producer for the family.

But, with the impressive victory by Twisted Wit in the Queenston, Clarkson is hoping to see the colt in the June 27 Plate.

"It would be really great if he could make the Plate," said Clarkson. "I hope he can keep it together. We only run a small operation but we just try our best."