05/22/2008 11:00PM

Two Maryland-bred claimers grab spotlight


Runners who are the backbone of the daily card at tracks around the country had their moment to shine at Pimlico over the Preakness weekend. Two starter handicaps, each named for a legendary Maryland-bred, were offered for Maryland-breds who had started for a claiming price of $15,000 or less in 2007 or 2008, and each attracted a full field.

On Black-Eyed Susan Day, May 16, fillies and mares had their opportunity in the Kattegat's Pride Starter Handicap, named for one of Maryland's top handicap mares of the 1980s. On Preakness Day, May 17, older runners raced in the Deputed Testamony Starter Handicap, run in honor of the last Maryland-bred to win the Preakness, 25 years earlier.

Martha Hopkins's homebred 4-year-old filly Four Karats surprised as the second-longest shot in the seven-horse field in the Kattegat's Pride.

Run over a sloppy track, which contributed to five program scratches, the Kattegat's Pride had an overwhelming choice in Vicar's Vixen, but Four Karats set every fraction under Eric Camacho and hit the finish two lengths clear of Pick Up the Tempo, with Vicar's Vixen third.

Hopkins and her late husband, C. Frank Hopkins, took up residence at Elberton Hill Farm, an ancestral Hopkins family property in Darlington, Md., in 1965. Four Karats, a daughter of former Maryland sire Diamond, was born at Elberton Hill, out of a homebred mare, Londonderry, by the Affirmed stallion Perfecting, who stood his entire career at the farm.

Londonderry, one of Perfecting's best runners, placed in the 2000 Maryland Million Distaff Starter Handicap and is a full sister to the Maryland Million Sprint Handicap winner Aberfoyle, who also placed in graded stakes. Four Karats is Londonderry's third foal.

It was the second win in 13 career starts for Four Karats, who won her maiden in her third outing for a $15,000 tag in July 2007, but had not raced at that level since.

The winner of the Deputed Testamony, 6-year-old Let Me Be Frank, was making his 84th career start. All but six of his starts came in the claiming ranks, and most while running for a claiming price of $4,000. But this gelded son of the durable multiple Grade 1 winner Awad was showing signs of an upswing, starting with his win on March 2 at Laurel Park, from which he was claimed by Mark Lapidus and trainer Damon Dilodovico for $5,000.

After finishing third in his subsequent start in allowance company, Let Me Be Frank went off as the fourth choice in the field of 10 for the Deputed Testamony, got the lead soon after the break, and was never headed, driving home to win by three lengths under Jeremy Rose.

Let Me Be Frank was bred by Plane Tree Farm, a Chesapeake City, Md., operation owned by Ron and Elizabeth Cullis until it was sold by the couple in 2006. Let Me Be Frank is the final foal out of the Ack Ack mare Hassenack.

Maryland sires at Midlantic sale

Not for Love, Lion Hearted, and first-year sire Domestic Dispute - all standing at Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City - were each represented by a six-figure sales horse at Fasig-Tipton Midlantic's preferred 2-year-olds in training sale held on May 19-20 at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

Not for Love had the sale's second-most expensive filly, a daughter out of the Polish Numbers mare Polish Nana consigned by Eisaman Equine, agent. She was purchased by Walnut Green LLC for $220,000. Foaled in New York, the filly is the first foal out of a half-sister to graded stakes winner Love of Money (also by Not for Love).

Patrice Miller, EQB Inc., agent, went to $210,000 for a colt by Lion Hearted, who was consigned by Vision Sales LLC, Stephens Thoroughbreds LLC, agent. A Vision Sales purchase for $70,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale, the colt is out of Christmas Strike (by Smart Strike) and was bred in Pennsylvania.

Domestic Dispute is the sire of a $110,000 filly purchased by California-based trainer Greg Gilchrist. The Kentucky-bred filly is the first foal out of Homoginize (by Known Fact) and was sold by agent Paul Sharp.

* Trainer Mike Trombetta will judge the 74th annual Maryland Horse Breeders Association yearling show, to be held at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium on June 29. Deadline to enter is Friday. Prize money, including purse awards presented to the top earners at 2 and 3 of those shown, exceeds $50,000. Call the MHBA at (410) 252-2100 for information.