11/02/2001 12:00AM

Virginia-breds shine outside home state


The Virginia Thoroughbred Association's creative efforts to widen racing opportunities for Virginia-breds hit the mark last weekend.

On Sunday, Delaware Park played host to two $40,000 races for registered Virginia-bred 2-year-olds: the M. Tyson Gilpin Stakes and Hildene Stakes. Saturday evening, Charles Town served as the site for the second running of the $50,000 Blue and Grey Stakes, the second and final event in the 2001 Chenin Blanc Challenge pitting Virginia-breds against their West Virginia counterparts.

All three races were hotly contested, and reflected strong quality.

Chambord Liqueur, owned and bred by Louise H. Fuller of Williamsburg, Va., won the Gilpin in a spectacular effort, considering that it was his first career start. Left at the gate in the six-furlong race, he steadily made up ground, cut through to the rail in the stretch, and outfinished front-running Cozy Spirit to score by a half-length, paying $50.20 as the second-longest-priced longshot in the field of seven.

"We're still on cloud nine," said Fuller. "We were just hoping he'd be respectable."

Fuller gave a great deal of credit to Chambord Liqueur's trainer, Nancy Dennis Lynn, who gave the colt his early education at Middleburg Training Center.

"In mid-September, Nancy decided it was time for him to go to a big track," said Fuller. "So she moved up to Delaware with Chambord Liqueur and a couple of other horses. Then I got a letter from the VTA reminding us about the races that were going to be run there for

2-year-old Virginia-breds, and I said 'Come on Nancy, let's get him ready for that.' "

Chambord Liqueur became the first stakes winner for his Virginia-based sire, Chenin Blanc, whose owners Bert and Diana Firestone sponsor the Chenin Blanc Challenge. Fuller and her husband, Buddy, bought Chambord Liqueur's dam, Aly Acting (by Prince Aly), privately as a 2-year-old in 1989, and campaigned her to a modestly successful racing career. A full sister to Grade 2 stakes winner Buck Aly, Aly Acting has produced three other foals to race for the Fullers - all winners. The only broodmare owned by the couple, she is boarded at Donna Dennehy's Eagle Point Farm in Ashland, Va.

Representing the opposite end of the spectrum, in the magnitude of its breeding and racing operation, is Joe Allbritton's Lazy Lane Farms of Upperville, Va., which sent out homebred Saturday's Child, a daughter of Storm Cat, to win the Hildene.

Saturday's Child, dispatched as odds-on favorite, took the lead in the upper stretch and cruised to a 1 1/2-length victory over six rivals.

Trained by Frank Brothers, Saturday's Child has now won 2 of her 3 career starts. The Hildene was a follow-up to her maiden special weight score on Oct. 11 at Hoosier Park. Saturday's Child is a daughter of the stakes-winning mare Bashful Charmer (by Capote), who has had two offspring sell at yearling auctions for six-figure amounts.

Proven runners put on a thrilling show in the Blue and Grey, which had a starting lineup of two West Virginia-breds and six Virginia-breds. It came down to a two-horse contest, with Native Heir (representing Virginia) locked in a duel with his West Virginia rival, Turbotaxman.

"They ran head to head for a half-mile and our horse gave everything he had to get up in time," said Maryland-based trainer Tony Dutrow, who races Native Heir on his own account. Purchased by Dutrow for $20,000 at the 1999 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern Fall Yearling sale, Native Heir (by Makin-Mary Had a Lot, by Double Zeus) was a two-time stakes winner at Colonial Downs this year. The Blue and Grey boosted his career earnings to $192,633.