12/02/2005 1:00AM

Unbeaten filly a tonic for her breeder


Undefeated in four starts, Maryland-bred 2-year-old filly Celestial Legend looks to have a very bright future.

Trained by Dale Capuano for Richard Schultz and David Menard, Celestial Legend is now a two-time stakes winner and is set to take aim at the Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship on Dec. 26 at Laurel Park.

Celestial Legend, a City Zip filly, has already stated a case for championship honors. After battling the entire 5 1/2 furlongs in her debut, a maiden special at Delaware Park on Aug. 24, she filly proved her toughness and prevailed by a nose. Three weeks later, Celestial Legend romped at Laurel Park by 13 lengths in a six-furlong allowance as the 4-5 favorite.

Shipped to The Meadowlands for the six-furlong Holly Stakes on Oct. 28, Celestial Legend drew off to win by 3 1/2 lengths. Her final time was a stellar 1:09.52.

Capuano had entered Celestial Legend in the six-furlong Grade 3 Valley Stream Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 20 (she was listed as the morning line's 5-2 second choice), but decided on Laurel Park's Toddler Stakes at seven furlongs a week later. The Toddler provided a perfect prep for the one-mile Juvenile Filly Championship, as Celestial Legend, the overwhelming 1-2 choice, was never seriously threatened and scored by three lengths.

Celestial Legend can prove to be just what the doctor ordered for her co-breeder William Fitzgibbons Sr., a longtime owner-breeder from Baltimore who came close to taking home championship titles with stakes winners Irish Cloud and Stormy Cloud in the mid-1990's.

Five weeks ago, Fitzgibbons was stricken by a yet-undetermined illness that put him in a coma for about a week and kept him hospitalized for more than a month.

"I have no idea what happened from the end of October through the month of November," said Fitzgibbons, who was unaware of the rise of Celestial Legend. Remarkably, Fitzgibbons was present at the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association's annual awards dinner and Christmas party last Monday evening, and is now enjoying the filly's success.

"I hope to be at the track to see her for her next start," he said.

Fitzgibbons bred Celestial Legend in partnership with David Wade, who is no stranger to breeding a championship-caliber runner.

Wade, who had been manager of Richard Golden's Sycamore Hall Farm in Chesapeake City, Md., for the past 18 years, has maintained a small number of broodmares of his own. Wade had earlier success with the broodmare Sunny Sparkler, dam of stakes winners Smart Sunny and Sparkling Number. Sparkling Number, who was named Maryland-bred champion 3-year-old filly of 2001, is a daughter of the late Northview Stallion Station sire Polish Numbers, as is Lunar's Legend, the dam of Celestial Legend.

Fitzgibbons purchased Lunar's Legend as a yearling at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic December mixed sale in 1994 for $13,500 and raced her for three years, winning four races and $44,007. Upon Lunar's Legend's retirement, Fitzgibbons turned part-ownership of the mare over to Wade, who had taken care of Fitzgibbons's stakes producer Arctic Cloud for many years.

"Everything is done by David, including the decision of who to breed her to," said Fitzgibbons.

Wade, whose expertise in bloodstock and sales preparation has resulted in launching a new venture for 2006 - heading up a sales division with Northview Stallion Station - saw promise in the speedy City Zip and thought Lunar's Legend was a good fit. A half-brother to the 2004 Horse of the Year, Ghostzapper, City Zip entered stud in New York before moving to Kentucky, and he ranks as the leading freshman sire of 2005 by number of winners.

Lunar's Legend produced three foals before Celestial Legend, including the stakes-placed filly Legendary Journey, a daughter of Not for Love.

Fitzgibbons and Wade have sold all of Lunar's Legend's foals. Celestial Legend was sent to the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale, where she brought $45,000. Lunar's Legend's 2004 Broken Vow colt went through the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic mixed sale last December, selling for $18,000. The mare has a weanling filly by Not for Love and is in foal to first-year Northview sire Domestic Dispute. She will be returned to City Zip in 2006.