03/05/2004 1:00AM

Water Cannon fits family profile

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Hard-knocking and workmanlike aptly describes the family of Water Cannon. And the 3-year-old gray gelding exhibited his work ethic in the Miracle Wood Stakes at Laurel Park on Feb. 28. Water Cannon won by a hand-ridden half-length while defeating, among others, the overwhelming favorite Capac, who had already appeared on lists of top Triple Crown contenders.

A Triple Crown nominee, Water Cannon is a son of venerable Maryland sire Waquoit out of Crying in the Rain, a daughter of Baederwood (who, incidentally, was also the sire of Miracle Wood, for whom the race was named). Bred in Maryland by Cynthia and Charles McGinnes at their Thornmar farm in Chestertown, Water Cannon has joined the long list of accomplished descendants of Muffies Muffin, whom the McGinneses purchased at the 1991 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic February sale for $26,000.

A stakes winner of $180,368 by another Maryland favorite son, Lord Gaylord, Muffies Muffin was 10 and carrying her third foal when she arrived at Thornmar in 1991. That spring she produced Crying in the Rain, a full sister to stakes-winning juvenile Col. Ralph. The first stallion the McGinneses selected for Muffies Muffin was Northview Stallion Station's young sire Waquoit, a multi-millionaire standing his third season at stud. The next year, Muffies Muffin produced Wicapi.

Wicapi defined the family profile, winning 18 races and earning $671,616 through age 7. His 15 stakes wins and placings, five of them graded, included victories in the Fred W. Hooper Handicap at age 6 and the W.L. McKnight Handicap the following year. While Muffies Muffin would produce two more stakes winners - Cranberry Muffin and All the Marbles - she was never sent back to Waquoit.

"It got to the point where her foals became too valuable," Cynthia McGinnes said of Muffies Muffin. The McGinneses sell all their yearlings, and they sent their mare to younger, more commercial stallions. The mare's current yearling, a filly by El Corredor, is being pointed to the Fasig-Tipton July sale in Kentucky.

Following the success of Wicapi, it seemed a logical choice to breed a daughter of Muffies Muffin to Waquoit, and Crying in the Rain's first foal from that cross is Water Cannon.

"He was a big, strong colt - the best foal Crying in the Rain has produced and much like Wicapi, only gray," McGinnes said. "When we sold him as a yearling, we were happy that Webb Carroll bought him. When you sell all your yearlings, you are at the mercy of who gets them, and when Webb gets them, they do well."

Carroll paid $13,500 for Water Cannon at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic fall sale, then resold him for $37,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May 2-year-old sale to his current owners, The Nonsequitur Stable, and trainer Linda Albert.

"He's with a good stable and has a good Maryland trainer," McGinnes said. "His future is ahead of him."

Crying in the Rain, not in foal for 2004, is due to be bred back to Waquoit within the next few weeks.

Waquoit entered stud at Northview Stallion Station in 1989 after proving to be a tough and talented race horse. A son of Relaunch, Waquoit earned $2,225,360 over four seasons, won the Jockey Club Gold Cup, and won the Brooklyn Handicap twice, when it was a Grade 1 race. He concluded his career, under part ownership of Northview, with a third in the Breeders' Cup Classic to Alysheba and Seeking the Gold.

Said Northview business manager Linda Bench, "We were delighted to be able to offer such a great horse to our clients in the Mid-Atlantic region. Because of his success at classic distances, we certainly expected him to be a classic-type sire."

The stud career of the 21-year-old Waquoit has been highlighted by such outstanding progeny as Grade 1-winning millionaire Halo America and $753,516-earner Docent. From 12 crops to race, he has sired the earners of more than $22 million.

Waquoit "has been the picture of consistency," said Bench. "He continues to be popular with breeders - as he deserves."