12/19/2003 1:00AM

Two-for-two at breeding stakes winners


Maryland's 3-year-old filly division has a new star.

Worldly Pleasure rose to the challenge against eight other Maryland-breds in the Politely Stakes on Dec. 13 at Laurel Park, leaving in her wake 2003 Maryland Million winners Allens Blessing and River Cruise.

It was a sensational accomplishment for trainer John Alecci, who claimed Worldly Pleasure for $25,000 on his own behalf last May. Under Alecci, she has won three of her last five starts. And the victory was also a major milestone for breeder Bob Ingham, a retired Baltimore, Md., investment advisor who has bred stakes winners in his first two tries.

Ingham has owned horses in Maryland for some 30 years, and has never aspired to be a major player in the Thoroughbred breeding world. He partly credits his research and intuition into pedigrees with the matings that produced the two stakes winners.

The first was Praise Heaven, a son of Acallade who won the Jennings Handicap as a 7-year-old in 1999, and was four times stakes-placed, including a third in the Grade 3 John B. Campbell Handicap. He earned $373,049.

Worldly Pleasure raced for Ingham and his longtime trainer Bobby Kees, making three unsuccessful starts in higher-priced claiming and maiden special weight company, before she dropped in class and won the maiden claiming race from which Alecci took her. "You run them in a claiming race, you know they can get claimed," said Ingham philosophically. "But I admit I was surprised."

Maryland-bred breeder bonuses have helped to ease Ingham's disappointment over losing the filly.

If nothing else, Ingham gained plenty of experience in the claiming game when he raced Worldly Pleasure's dam, Fast Pleasure (by Fast Play). Fast Pleasure was a favorite of Kees's daughter, Sherry Rudolph, who serves as Kees's assistant and exercise rider. "We claimed [Fast Pleasure] three or four times," Rudolph said. "Every time I claimed her back, I would ask Bob if he wanted half. She was cheap, but I liked everything about her."

Fast Pleasure stayed with Rudolph and Ingham after being claimed for $6,250 in April 1996 at Pimlico. She retired to Kees's farm in Sparks, Md., with a record of 42 starts over five seasons, with 10 wins, five seconds, and a third, and earnings of $85,002.

Choosing stallions for Fast Pleasure led to some disagreements between Rudolph and Ingham. Rudolph selected the first mating, to Roanoke, in 1998; the following year Ingham sent the mare to Devil His Due. "We each liked the foal out of the stallion we chose, so we decided to divide them up," said Rudolph. "Then I bought out Bob's interest in the mare."

Worldly Pleasure (by Devil His Due), now a stakes winner of $122,410 in 14 career starts, all at 3, has rapidly boosted the value of her dam. Still owned by Rudolph, Fast Pleasure has a 2-year-old gelding, Major Price, by Allen's Prospect, and a yearling colt, Please the Crowd, by Crowd Pleaser. She did not have a foal this year, but is in foal to Caller I. D.

* Dec. 31 is an important deadline for the Maryland Million. Yearlings must be nominated by this date. The fee is $600 for yearlings who have not been previously nominated (or last option of $1,500, due May 31, 2004). Weanlings may be fully nominated for a fee of $250.

Stallions must be nominated by Dec. 31 in order for the foals conceived during the 2004 breeding season to be eligible to the program. The stallion nomination fee is equal to the advertised stud fee with a minimum of $500.

For more information or nomination forms contact the Maryland Million office at (410) 252-2100 or at www.MarylandMillion.com.