Couple takes 'Special' feelings to bank Winning filly is a dream, and there's no for-sale sign

January 01, 1993|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

Barbara Anderson and John Guest spent a quiet New Year's Eve last night.

But the couple, who live in Upper Marlboro, have just experienced about the most exciting week of their lives.

Last Saturday, the Anderson-Guest homebred filly, Whata Special Lady, made her career debut in Laurel's seventh race. She not only won by 5 1/4 lengths, but she ran 6 furlongs in 1 minute, 10 4/5 seconds, one of the fastest times posted by a 2-year-old filly at Laurel last year.

Anderson, who gave up a secretarial job in Crystal City, Va., about a dozen years ago to work as a groom at the track, and Guest, employed by the U.S. Census Bureau, described the race as "a dream come true."

But since then, the couple has become the talk of the racetrack.

Not only have they been swamped with offers for the filly -- one local, one from California, one from New York and another from Florida -- but they have turned down a reported $160,000 for Whata Special Lady.

According to Anderson and Guest, some of their friends think they should take the money and run.

"It is amazing to me that people are willing to spend that much money for a horse after just one race," Guest said. "This might be considered a decent-enough-bred filly on a local level, but not on a national basis."

Whata Special Lady is from the second crop of Maryland stallion Taylor's Special, which earned more than $1 million. But so far the horse has not been a resounding success at stud.

Whata Special Lady is the first foal out of What A Gaylord, a 9-year-old mare that Anderson and Guest purchased "on the cuff" as a 2-year-old. She was the first Anderson-Guest success story. The Lord Gaylord filly won nearly $80,000 and a small stakes race, the Miss America Stakes at Atlantic City, and placed second in the Pinafore Stakes at Pimlico, before being retired.

"We are simply telling people that for the time being, we're just not interested in selling," Guest said. "It's odd, but I think people with money think that people without money shouldn't have a good horse."

Anderson gets to Laurel about 5:30 a.m. daily to care for Whata Special Lady as well as four other horses for trainer Carroll Hawkins.

Like Guest, she can't believe the size of the offers.

"But I'm not in this game for the money," she said. "I'm just in it to have a horse. I've always dreamed of just rubbing a filly that might be good enough to run in a race like the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes [the filly counterpart to the Preakness] and now I might own one."

She said just considering the offers "gives me a headache. I can't deal with it."

She added she is prepared for whatever the future holds for Whata Special Lady.

"1993 could be an exciting year for us," she said. "Then again, it could be a bummer. We all know how the racetrack works. One day you're on top of the world. The next day you have nothing. But we've never had the kind of money that has been offered for this horse. I'm not going to cry if I keep the filly and she gets hurt. I'd cry for the filly, but not because I didn't sell her. I don't have any great expectations. Maybe to win one of the Maryland Million races. That would be thrill enough.

"This is the life I love and owning this filly, even if she never wins another race, is already like a dream."

NOTES: When the 60-day Laurel fall-winter meet ended yesterday, the daily average attendance of 8,817 and daily average handle of $1,327,262 represented decreases of 6.6 and 9.5 percent, respectively, from last year. . . . The money bet on Laurel-Pimlico races in commingled out-of-state pools from July 3 through yesterday was $35,197,549. . . . Maryland horses didn't fare well yesterday in the Gallant Fox Handicap at Aqueduct.

Asserche was ninth and Reputed Testamony 12th.

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