Vanna Go worth too much to keep

ON HORSE RACING

Horse Racing

September 30, 2001|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Wayne Bailey's blacksmith approached him one day in 1999 and said, "Come take a look at this horse Eddie Gaudet has for sale."

That simple request on Bowie's backstretch launched a partnership and a series of purchases that resulted in a filly being claimed for $14,500 and now about to be sold for perhaps 10 times that much.

That simple request, similar to countless others floating around racetrack stables, also prompted Bailey, a trainer since 1974, to conclude about this often-cutthroat business: "There is hope out there."

Bailey and his blacksmith, Victor Figueras, bought the horse from fellow trainer Gaudet for $5,000. Gaudet had wanted more, but he accepted their offer.

"For $5,000," Bailey told Figueras, "you can't go wrong."

The horse was an unraced 3-year-old filly named Secret Magic. Racing in the name of Figueras and Bailey's wife and exercise rider, Kelly, Secret Magic ran five times, winning once, finishing second twice and earning $10,256. In that fifth race on June 11, 1999, at Charles Town (after four races in Maryland), Secret Magic was claimed for $12,500.

With Secret Magic's generating $22,756 from a $5,000 investment, Bailey and his blacksmith looked for another horse. They bought one that didn't work out, but on June 20, 1999, nine days after losing Secret Magic, they claimed a 4-year-old filly out of a race at Pimlico for $14,500.

She was Vanna Go, a daughter of Private Terms and Stanley's Girl, a Deputy Minister mare. Two months later in her third race for Bailey and Figueras, Vanna Go won an allowance race at Laurel Park at odds of 8-1 and earned $17,670.

"She paid for herself right there," Bailey said.

The gravy train chugged on as Vanna Go, in two years with the Baileys, won eight of 29 races and earned $256,621.

From March 9 to July 22 this year, the 6-year-old mare won four stakes at Charles Town and finished second in her other three races at Charles Town, Pimlico and Delaware Park.

In that final race, the Lady Di Stakes at Charles Town, Vanna Go was the first of three consecutive stakes winners for Bailey-trained horses. The Lady Di was the seventh race. The eighth, the Kelly Kip Stakes, was won by the 10-year-old Wise Dusty, who broke a splint bone in the race and might have to be retired. And the ninth, the Jefferson County Stakes, was won by the 6-year-old Monk's Falcon.

The Lady Di was Vanna Go's third stakes win a row. Bailey figured it wasn't going to get any better than that. She probably wasn't going to win a graded stakes. She was 6 years old.

All of a sudden, Vanna Go, a $14,500 claim two years earlier, was too valuable for Bailey to race.

He and his blacksmith will sell her in the November sale at Keeneland as a broodmare prospect.

"The estimate is that she'll go for $150,000," Bailey said. "But if two people really like her, she could go for $250,000."

Bailey, 54, who trains 20 horses at Bowie, is having his best all-round year in nearly two decades of training. He's managing a variety of productive horses, whereas in 1997, his most lucrative year, one horse, Wise Dusty, carried the banner.

Despite the approaching windfall with Vanna Go, Bailey said there is a downside to parting with the well-bred, consistent runner: "The bad part is, she's the kind of broodmare I'd love to have. But I can't afford to keep her. She's worth too much."

Breeders auditions

Include and Broken Vow had their final Breeders' Cup audition Friday at the Meadowlands, and Xtra Heat had hers yesterday at Delaware Park.

Disco Rico will get his a week from today in the Grade II Forest Hills Handicap at Belmont Park.

"If he can't win this race, he doesn't deserve to be in the Breeders' Cup [Sprint]," said his Pimlico trainer, Valora Testerman, who will travel with Disco Rico tomorrow to Belmont.

On Saturday at Belmont, a Breeders' Cup preview features four Grade I stakes, including the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup. The Champagne Stakes will showcase Officer, the Bob Baffert-trained, 2-year-old that drew rave reviews in California.

Stable hopping

The Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern Fall Yearling sale commences at 10 a.m. tomorrow in the Timonium sales pavilion on the grounds of the state fair.

It continues at 10 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. The catalog has 832 yearlings.

The Tony Dutrow-trained Saratoga Games, runner-up in the West Virginia Derby, will compete in the $300,000 Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park Saturday.

Burning Roma, third last weekend in the Jerome Handicap at Belmont, is training toward the $250,000 Pegasus Handicap Oct. 19 at the Meadowlands, Dutrow said.

Kicking off Maryland Million day will be the Maryland Horse Breeders Association seminar for new owners, beginning at 9 a.m. Oct. 13 at Pimlico.

It'll be a primer on how to become involved in the industry. Cost is $25 and includes breakfast, lunch, visit to a barn and reserved seats for the races. Information: 410-252-2100.

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