FAIR HILL -- Blythe Miller told her father she didn't think My Lear wanted to race too often.
Good thinking. In his new career in steeplechase racing, My Lear has found the light agenda agreeable. In three starts this year, he has won twice, including the featured $25,000 Miles Valentine Novice Stakes at Fair Hill Race Course yesterday.
"I told Dad I thought we should space his races out," said Miller, 22. "I want to have him ready and fresh for Saratoga in August."
F. Bruce Miller, Blythe's father, is the trainer of My Lear, a 4-year-old gelding who went winless in 10 efforts on the flat, all of them at Maryland tracks. But after the steeplechasing powerhouse Augustin Stable bought My Lear last year, he has gotten a new lease on life.
His victory in yesterday's 2 3/8 -mile event over "national fences" came at the expense of eight rivals and at 9-1 odds.
In the first of two times around Fair Hill's expansive grass oval, the gelding rated comfortably for Miller just behind leader Word Of Honor.
On the second circuit, "he cruised up there easy," said Miller, and he made a lead he would not relinquish. He finished nearly seven lengths in front of Christoroberto, who had five more lengths on Miss Una F.
Three horses did not complete the course. Brat was finished after about 1 1/2 miles; Nobelist, the odds-on favorite, was pulled up after jumping the fifth-to-last fence; and Billy King was pulled up in the long stretch.
Miller, from Unionville, Pa., is a recent graduate of Mount Vernon College in Washington. She is an amateur and can therefore accept only expense money.
"I want to ride in the [Maryland] Hunt Cup again next year," she said, explaining why she has remained an amateur.
Two lesser events on the program produced more dramatic finishes. After traveling three miles over timber, Lenape Way beat Silver Chinook by about 10 inches. And in the two-mile eighth race, Steady Money won by a nose over Fight Talk, with three others in close pursuit.
NOTES: Yesterday's card was the first of three at Fair Hill this year. The others will be Sept. 2 and Oct. 12. The latter will include the $250,000 Breeders' Cup Steeplechase. . . . Yesterday's card concluded the spring meeting for the National Steeplechase and Hunt Association. Marylanders can see jumpers next in one race at Pimlico Race Course June 16. . . . The Millers also won the second race yesterday when Made Noble triumphed as the favorite. . . . Mutuel tickets confused Fair Hill with the Far Hills steeplechase track in New Jersey. "Fair Hills" was printed on each betting ticket. . . . Shades of a rainy day at Pimlico: There were 25 scratches on the program. Entries were made six days before the program. . . . Because of the recent lack of rain, the Fair Hill course was hard and fast. My Lear set a record in the feature, but officials did not know whose record he broke. . . . The 13,628 fans wagered $240,576.