LAUREL -- Donald Barr is attempting quite a feat at the Bowie Training Center.
He is trying to bring the 8-year-old mare In The Curl out of retirement and have her ready to run by Maryland Million Day on Sept. 26.
If he succeeds, In The Curl will be the only horse to run in all seven Maryland Millions.
One of Barr's owners, Milton P. Higgins III of Olney, purchased In The Curl in partnership with veterinarian Tom Bowman from Nick Rinaldi last winter as a broodmare prospect.
In The Curl had won $718,376 and such stakes at the Primonetta, Hydrangea and Musket Handicaps. But she kept running up against her old nemesis, Safely Kept, in the Maryland Million Distaff against filly and mare sprinters. In her six Maryland Million tries, she finished second three times, third twice and once fourth, earning money in each start.
Higgins, who was at Laurel Race Course yesterday to watch his 3-year-old filly, Rollicking Dolly, win the feature, said he had no luck this spring breeding In The Curl.
"We sent her to Kentucky and bred her to Criminal Type [1990 Horse of the Year]," Barr said. "She conceived quickly, but then it was discovered she had twins."
It is normal procedure to abort one of the twins and hope that the remaining fetus is healthy enough to survive. However, In the Curl lost the foal.
"We brought her back to Maryland and bred her late in the season to Allen's Prospect, but she didn't conceive," Higgins said.
The owners then decided to put her back in training. Barr said yesterday the mare has old suspensory (ligament) trouble.
"But I've gotten three or four workouts into her," he said. "I'd like to be able to run her before the Maryland Million."
Higgins, a former bronc rider in rodeos grew up in New England, but spent his summers on family cattle ranches in New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming.
"I trained quarter horses at places like Ruidoso Downs and won some futurities," he said. But he eventually turned to the thoroughbred business in 1978. In the meantime, he earned a master's degree in business administration from Harvard University.
He likes buying and selling horses and has about a dozen broodmares in partnership with Bowman. His runners at the track include stakes-placed Rollicking Dolly, who is from the immediate female family of 1991 Preakness winner, Hansel, and the quick 3-year-old Who Wouldn't.
Higgins said he'll keep In The Curl closer to home next spring, "and I'm sure she'll get in foal." In the meantime, she might get fit quickly enough for another in the Maryland Million. This year she won't face Safely Kept. That mare was retired last year and although she, too, did not get in foal (to Mr. Prospector), she is no longer in training.
NOTES: Carey Miller from Potomac was at Laurel yesterday to see County Cop, an offspring of her champion Maryland-bred mare, Angelina County, finish sixth in the seventh race. Miller sold a Miswaki yearling colt out of Angelina County for $80,000 to Hong Kong racehorse owner Lillian Oung two weeks ago at the Saratoga sales. "The colt is supposed to go to Europe and will be trained there by Jim Bolger [trainer of St. Jovite]," Miller said. Miller added that Angelina County is in foal to sprint champion Housebuster. . . . Milton Higgins said that even though he had had bad luck with In The Curl in Kentucky, he fared much better RTC with a broodmare named Sweet Bunny. That mare, who had won a Maryland Million stakes, is carrying her first foal by Broad Brush.