Family purse goes to 'Mary' Purchase of filly an affair of heart

March 26, 1997|By Mike Klingaman | Mike Klingaman,SUN STAFF

She has fed her, weaned her and nursed her through good times and bad. Now, Mary Joanne Hughes has purchased Mary Bo Quoit, the would-be racehorse who won her heart.

Hughes heads a partnership that has bought the yearling for $20,000, assuring a seamless exchange of the thoroughbred, whose life is being chronicled in The Sun.

It was less acquisition than adoption.

"I was worried that she'd wind up at auction," said Hughes, manager of Liberty Run Farm in Carroll County, where the filly was foaled. "I couldn't see her leaving my care. I'm a mother hen about my babies."

Especially the fast ones. Hughes, a trainer herself, is full- or part-owner of 11 horses, including Mary Bo Quoit's half-brother, Mary's Buckaroo, a 6-year-old colt with career earnings of nearly $500,000. As a yearling, Mary's Buckaroo brought a measly $5,000 at market; Mary Bo Quoit, who has loftier bloodlines and a rich sibling, brought four times that.

She'd have cost even more down the pike, horsemen said.

"Typically, the earlier in life you sell a horse, the less it brings," said Tim Capps, executive vice president of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association. "But that [$20,000] is a pretty good price.

"It's obvious Joanne was quite taken with this filly from the start. Hopefully, it'll be a good investment for everyone."

George Swope, who bred Mary Bo Quoit, is delighted with the deal. "I got a solid offer and took it," said Swope, a pharmacist from Highlandtown. "You never know what will happen in this business. God forbid the horse should break a leg in the pasture tomorrow. Hopefully, she'll get to the track and win, and I'll sit back and collect [breeders'] bonus money."

Never mind that the spirited filly is two years shy of competition. While the risks are great between here and the gate -- Mary Bo Quoit fought off a case of colic last week -- Hughes and her husband, Bill Brasaemle, are high on the horse, nicknamed "Miss Piggy," whom they helped to deliver last April.

"She has a nice smooth stride on her," says Brasaemle, who charts races for the Daily Racing Form. "Very fluid. Effortless. I feel a lot better, knowing she's ours."

Fifty percent of her, anyway. Hughes bought a half-interest in Mary Bo Quoit; the rest belongs to Jackson Bryer and Calhoun Winton, two academicians at the University of Maryland College Park. Both men are longtime English professors who jumped at the chance to buy into the thoroughbred.

"My kingdom for a horse!" exclaimed Winton, 70, quoting Shakespeare's "Richard III".

"Behind the classroom, we're secret racing fans," said Bryer who, unlike his colleague, has dabbled in the business before. Bryer owns one-half of Mary's Buckaroo. The colt's success persuaded him to pursue Mary Bo Quoit, and Bryer's enthusiasm for the filly brought Winton into the fold.

"We couldn't let that horse go to somebody else," said Bryer. "She's become part of our extended family." Last year, the Bryers' Christmas card featured a snapshot of them with Mary Bo Quoit. Then, she wasn't even theirs.

"I'm partial to her because of her relationship to [Mary's Buckaroo]," said Bryer, of Kensington. "The irony is that if he hadn't been so successful, she wouldn't have cost as much. We've contributed to our own escalating price.

"We're not buying 'Piggy' with the notion that she'll turn out like him -- though it would be nice if that happens."

Hughes won't bet the farm on that -- yet. Both Mary Bo Quoit and Mary's Buckaroo share the same dam, Mary Bo Peep, whose sons have clearly outclassed the daughters. The three top colts have won a total of 39 races; the three top fillies have won only three.

"The fillies are high-maintenance animals," said Hughes. "Hard to train. Delicate joints. Not real sound.

"I hope this one is different."

Hughes said her husband broke news of the sale to Mary Bo Quoit over breakfast recently. "You're ours now," he said, feeding her oats and patting her neck.

The response?

"She said she'd been treated that way all along."

Pub Date: 3/26/97

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