Lowly Domus Pacis a Laurel upstart 2-year-old gelding surprises in stakes

LAUREL — LAUREL -- John Friedman never gave up the dream.

It's been 21 years since the retired Washington firefighter took on the biggest names in racing and won the 1971 Coaching Club American Oaks with the unfashionably bred filly, Our Cheri Amour. The filly cost her owner, the late Helen Vizzi, only $1,800 at the Timonium sales.


It was one of racing's great Cinderella stories, ranking right up there in local lore with Harrison Johnson's victory in the Hopeful Stakes with Gusty O'Shay.

Now Friedman, 60, has burst onto the scene with another stakes runner with similar unfashionable bloodlines.


Domus Pacis, a homebred 2-year-old by an obscure West Virginia stallion out of Friedman's only broodmare, won the $38,300 Bimelech Stakes yesterday at Laurel Race Course.

"First time I worked this horse, he went a quarter in 23 2/5 seconds," Friedman said. "That's when I told my wife this might be the best horse we've ever had. It's been over 20 years since Our Cheri Amour, but we've never given up hope we'd come up with another runner."

Domus Pacis zipped to the front in yesterday's 6-furlong stakes, getting the first quarter in :21 4/5 and the half-mile in :45 1/5.

"Joe Rocco [the jockey] apologized later for using the horse so much so early," Friedman said. "But I couldn't get mad. We still won."

Domus Pacis, under steady right-handed whipping (12 times through the stretch) lasted by a nose over a couple of fast-closing Eddie Gaudet-trained colts, My Impression and Asset Impression. The two favorites, Departing Cloud and Dapper Doc, were simply outrun.

Friedman and his wife, Virginia, have been married 38 years and commute daily from their retirement home on Kent Island to the lTC Bowie Training Center. They have two horses in training, Domus Pacis, which in Latin means "House of Peace", and the gelding's older sister, Viva Maria.

They board their broodmare, High Born Miss, at Gorden Keys' Oatlands Farm near Olney.

Friedman picked High Born Miss out of a pasture field at Charles Iler's farm near Darnestown as an unbroken 3-year-old. "I raced her in partnership with Mr. Iler until I later bought him out for $12,000," Friedman said. "The next time I ran her, she bowed a tendon."


High Born Miss, who the Friedmans call "Mama" and said used to lay down and snore in the Receiving Barn before a race, did not break her maiden until she was 5 years old. At age 7, Friedman tried to bring her back to the races.

When she re-bowed, Friedman bred her to Feel The Power, a son of Raise A Native, who stands at O'Sullivan Farm near Charles Town, W. Va.

"I had read a breeding column in the Daily Racing Form by Leon Rasmussen that said that mares with certain bloodlines crosses [such as My Babu, Tourbillion and Hyperion] should be bred to Raise A Native. She has all of those names in her pedigree. I couldn't afford Raise A Native, so I bred her to one his sons."

Domus Pacis is the third foal from that mating. "And I've got the mare back in foal to him," Friedman said.

Domus Pacis is expected to run next in the Devil's Bag Stakes and possibly later in the Maryland Juvenile Championship.

NOTES: Nancy Alberts who bought the filly Jazema for $1 and later lost her to trainer King Leatherbury for $25,000, claimed the filly back yesterday for $5,000. During the interim, Leatherbury won six races, including yesterday's fifth race, with Jazema. . . . Two Irish horses, Poolesta and Khoraz, are the first foreign arrivals for this weekend's International Turf Festival. Poolesta runs in the Laurel Dash on Saturday, and Khoraz goes in the Laurel Futurity on Sunday. Both horses are trained by John Oxx. . . . Four British horses are expected to arrive tonight.