01/04/2008 1:00AM

Two stakes wins raise Outflanker's profile


Apple Special's forceful victory in the Maryland Juvenile Championship Stakes last Saturday was part of a spectacular double play for his sire, Outflanker, a son of Danzig standing at Maryland Stallion Station in Glyndon, Md.

Less than 10 minutes after his son claimed supremacy over seven 2-year-old Maryland-bred male rivals at Laurel Park, Outflanker's daughter, Bayou's Lassie, captured the Grade 3 Stage Door Betty Handicap at Calder.

The performances showcased two runners at widely differing stages of their careers. The 5-year-old Bayou's Lassie has three earlier stakes wins and earnings of $469,574 to her credit. But together they brought well-deserved attention to a stallion who until recently has been a sleeper among Maryland's sire ranks.

Boasting a sterling pedigree, as a close relative of leading sire A.P. Indy, Outflanker, now 14, was already a proven sire with three crops of racing age when he moved to Maryland from Florida for the 2004 breeding season.

He drew strong support that first year in Maryland, and is represented by 50 foals in his first Maryland-sired crop, which came to the races in 2007. But waning interest, and the faltering economy of the state's breeding industry, brought his mare numbers down to 20 last season.

That downslide will almost certainly reverse dramatically in 2008.

Outflanker, being offered this season for a $4,000 stud fee, ranked as Maryland's second-leading sire in 2007, with $3,528,750 in progeny earnings. He had eight stakes winners, three of whom made their mark in graded company.

Most important, from a future standpoint, is the strength of his first Maryland crop.

Outflanker was the leading sire in the Mid-Atlantic region in 2007 by number of 2-year-old winners (13). Two of his juvenile offspring were stakes winners, and another two placed in stakes.

His other stakes-winning 2-year-old was Saxet Heights, who captured the fillies division of the Tri-State Futurity on Nov. 10 at Charles Town and was undefeated in her two starts.

Saxet Heights, a West Virginia-bred, campaigns for her breeder, Potomac, Md., resident Carey K. Miller, who has had outstanding success with three generations of her family.

Saxet Heights's granddam, Angelina County (by Rollicking), was a graded winner of $340,857 who earned honors as champion Maryland-bred 3-year-old filly of 1987. Her dam, Holiday Ball (by Black Tie Affair), won or placed in five stakes, two in Grade 2 company, and earned $312,424.

The opportunity to attract locally based mares with credentials such as Holiday Ball has been a major boost for Outflanker, according to Don Litz, founder and president of the Maryland Stallion Station.

"A certain level of stallion can find better breeding opportunities in this state than anywhere else in the country," Litz said. "There's a strong broodmare population, owned by people who know how to breed racehorses. A lot of them prefer to utilize stallions in their home state; they would rather not ship mares out of state.

"Our plan in starting the Maryland Stallion Station was to provide value for that core group of mares. And Outflanker is filling the bill."

Apple Special, bred in partnership by Will Farish, whose Lane's End farm in Kentucky is closely associated with Maryland Stallion Station, is making his mark for Maryland connections.

The first foal from his stakes-placed dam Apple Juice (by Pleasant Tap), Apple Special was sold as a weanling for $10,000 at the 2005 Keeneland November sale, and sent back through the ring at the 2006 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale, where longtime Maryland horseman Sonny Wayson bought him on a bid of $15,000.

Trained throughout his career by Jerry Robb, Apple Special won his maiden in September, in his fourth start, and then returned to make his stakes debut in the Maryland Million Nursery, finishing fourth, only a length behind the winner, Regal Solo. The Juvenile Championship was his second win in a row, following an allowance score on Nov. 15 at Laurel. In eight starts, he has earned $80,500.

Outflanker's stakes-placed 2-year-olds of 2007 are Kosmo's Buddy, who finished second in the Gin Talking Stakes and third in both the Maryland Million Lassie and Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship Stakes, and My Little Josie, second in the Tippett Stakes.