Veteran breeder Clagett takes stock, opts to sell


January 25, 2004|By TOM KEYSER

Citing the dictates of time and taxes, Hal C.B. Clagett, the elder statesman of Maryland racing, has decided to sell 19 horses in the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic winter-mixed auction Feb. 2 at Timonium.

Clagett, 87, and his wife Jeanne, 91, live at Roedown Farm in Davidsonville in Anne Arundel County. The courtly Mr. Clagett began breeding horses after World War II at the Clagetts' Weston Farm in Upper Marlboro in Prince George's County.

"Jeanne and I are taking a practical look at things and doing what practicality dictates," he said. "And it's heartbreaking."

Clagett cherishes all his horses and doesn't often sell them, so when he does people pay attention. His consignment includes eight broodmares, two yearlings, four 2-year-olds and five 3-year-olds. One of his top broodmares, however, will be withdrawn from the sale. Sound Ambition just last week aborted her Malibu Moon foal.

Clagett is best-known for breeding Little Bold John, one of Maryland's favorite horses. Before he died last year at age 21, Little Bold John raced 105 times and won 38 races, of which 25 were stakes. That ranks him fourth in stakes victories among North American thoroughbreds.

Bill Reightler will handle the sale of Clagett's horses. All but one are homebreds, and that one might as well be. Clagett didn't breed Crossing Lane, but the 5-year-old broodmare prospect grew up at Roedown. Clagett ended up buying her to settle a board bill.

Asked which horses he's selling are his favorites, Clagett said: "I would say every damn one of them."

He owns 64 in all, so this will leave him with about 45. What's he going to do now?

"I'm going to do just exactly as I've always done," he said, "Foal these when the foaling season comes up."

Gill and Glick

People say Michael Gill wins more races and earns more money than any horse owner by claiming horses and moving them up. Actually, he gets most of his wins by doing the opposite - claiming horses and running them back in cheaper races.

So it was interesting last week when Glick, a former Gill horse, broke a record in his first race for his new trainer. After claiming the 8-year-old Glick from Gill for $40,000 last month at Hollywood Park, California trainer Jeff Mullins ran Glick in a hillside-turf sprint of "about 6 1/2 furlongs" Monday at Santa Anita Park. Glick won in 1 minute, 11.26 seconds, breaking the track record.

Meanwhile, Gill, who lives in New Hampshire but is the dominant owner competing in Maryland, returned to Gulfstream Park yesterday to run two horses in the Sunshine Millions, this after vowing to shun Gulfstream until his lawsuit against the track is resolved. The suit sprang from well-documented incidents last year involving a Gill horse that broke a leg during a race and was euthanized.

While in Florida, Gill will attend the Eclipse Awards tomorrow as one of three finalists for Owner of the Year. He reportedly will be accompanied by an entourage of 37 relatives, friends and employees.

According to published reports, Gill offered $3 million for Tapit, the Michael Dickinson-trainee who won the Laurel Futurity and is a top contender for the Kentucky Derby. The offer was rejected. Tapit may make his 3-year-old debut Feb. 14 in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream.

`Boy' gets some R&R

Cherokee's Boy, one of Maryland's top 3-year-olds last year, is "sunning in Florida" in preparation for his 4-year-old campaign, said Gary Capuano, his trainer. The Maryland colt won the Federico Tesio Stakes and competed in the Preakness, finishing eighth at odds of 9-1.

He hasn't raced since June, and since early December he's been at Ocala Stud in Florida. Capuano said he expects him back at Bowie in mid-February and hopes he's ready to race by spring. He said nothing was wrong with the colt; the long break was for rest and relaxation.

"He needed a break," Capuano said. "He had a pretty tough campaign. I ran him hard."

Down the stretch

The National Steeplechase Association has reconfigured its Triple Crown after Churchill Downs and Pimlico dropped their races from the series.

Contested last year the day before the Preakness as the second leg of the steeplechase Triple Crown, the $100,000 Joe Aitcheson Stakes at Pimlico has been canceled due to lack of purse money. The Triple Crown for jumpers will consist of the Georgia Cup on April 11 in Kingston, Ga.; the National Hunt Cup on May 15 in Radnor, Pa.; and the Meadow Brook Stakes on June 3 at Belmont Park.

Meanwhile, the NSA has elected Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard as president. He succeeds George Strawbridge, who held the unpaid post for five years.

Two jockeys began riding again at Laurel Park last week after extended absences. Steve "Cowboy" Hamilton, a mainstay in Maryland during the 1990s, returned after four years' riding in Texas, working in the oil fields and breaking horses in his home state of Oklahoma.

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