01/16/2003 1:00AM

A win for owner, breeder, and Indiana


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The victory by Pass Rush in the San Fernando Breeders' Cup Stakes at Santa Anita was not merely a major success for owner Michael Tabor, who purchased the handsome chestnut colt as a 2-year-old. The San Fernando win also is important for Pass Rush's breeders, Don and Dana Myers, who own Swifty Farms in Indiana, for their stallion Crown Ambassador, and for the Indiana breeding program.

The San Fernando is one of the most important victories by an Indiana-bred, and the Myerses bred the colt and raced him themselves before selling him to Tabor. In fact, Dana Myers named Pass Rush, saying that "we have a grandson in the NFL" - Nick Goings, running back for the Carolina Panthers - "and I have been using a lot of football terms in naming [horses]. I also use the first letter of the dam's name" - in Pass rush's case, Political Knight - "in selecting the name of her foals."

With regard to the colt's sire, Don Myers noted that "we really wanted to buy Crown Ambassador when he was racing, and he became our first Thoroughbred stallion."

"We had wanted to acquire Crown Ambassador as a racing prospect and stallion prospect," said Larry Smallwood, general manager of Swifty Farms. "As a son of Storm Cat, he had a lot of appeal to us in both respects, but we didn't get him initially. I was told that they sold a half-interest in him early for around seven figures."

Crown Ambassador made only three starts at 3, placing in the Hutcheson, Spectacular Bid, and Surfside stakes, but after the Surfside, he "came out with chips in a knee," Smallwood said, and the owners decided to retire him. "We purchased him through Phil Owens," Smallwood said, "and sent him to stud here in Indiana.

"Crown Ambassador has typical Storm Cat knees," Smallwood said, "but he doesn't breed them. We bred two mares to him that were offset, and he threw the knees. But the rest of his book was average little mares with good to average conformation, and the foals came out great. He puts a tremendous body on them, too."

Looking at the horse's first crop, Smallwood said he "told Mr. Myers that we needed to keep a few of Crown Ambassador's foals if we wanted to make him as a stallion. We ended up keeping three - Restitution, Amanda's Crown, and Pass Rush. All three are now stakes winners."

Pass Rush was the most precocious of the trio, and Dana Myers recalled that "Michael Tabor purchased Pass Rush after he broke his maiden at Churchill Downs."

Tabor's enthusiasm for the colt didn't meet with immediate reward, as Pass Rush raced in the Cradle Stakes and came out with a "small chip in his left knee," according to trainer Pat Byrne.

Although a stakes winner after coming back last year at 3, Pass Rush hadn't been among the leaders of his age until his victory in the San Fernando. "Mr. Tabor and Pat Byrne have been very patient with Pass Rush," Myers noted.

"He was a nice horse; so we took care of him," Byrne said. "And he has come back stronger and better than ever."

The colt's improvement follows the career arc of his dam, Political Knight, who is one of three stakes winners by her sire, the Mr. Prospector horse Knight.

"Political Knight was a stakes winner, but when she went bad, they dropped her in for $7,500, and I claimed her [after] turning the mare over to Greg Foley and freshening her," Smallwood said.

Swifty Farms raced the mare, and. Smallwood said, "she ran respectably in allowance and stakes company," but had some leg trouble and was retired.

Bred to Crown Ambassador, Political Knight produced Pass Rush as her second foal. "Her first was a beautiful Cherokee Run filly," Smallwood said, "but she ran through a fence, broke a leg, and we had to put her down."

Political Knight has a "yearling full brother to Pass Rush," Smallwood said. "He's a little more progressive than Pass Rush at this stage. He weighs 795 pounds and stands 15 1/2 hands right now. He's a brute."

Smallwood also noted that the mare "is due to Crown Ambassador on March 4, and she is now tentatively scheduled to go to Scorpion, but there is a chance she could go to something more commercial," if Pass Rush continues his West Coast successes.

Don Myers said that in addition to owning Crown Ambassador in Indiana, "we have part of Announce and Best of Luck" - both at Dell Ridge in Kentucky - "and about 25 percent of Scorpion at Vinery."

Crown Ambassador could be joining the other stallions in Kentucky if enough interest develops as the well-bred stallion is getting racehorses.