Christmas family wins with Quicken

The Christmas family knew it was onto "a good thing."

It seemed everyone from great-aunt Helen Stevens to 9-month-old Grant Cassidy was at the races yesterday to see the Donelson Christmas family homebred gelding, Quicken, win the


$40,000 Orme Wilson Jr. Memorial Stakes.

Corrine Christmas Sullivan said in the paddock beforehand that she was nervous.


"I don't know what's worse, having a horse that can't run or having a horse that you think has some ability and then hoping he lives up to expectations," she said.

Sullivan needn't worry.

Quicken came from last in the eight-horse field, was five horses wide on the final turn and won the 7-furlong stakes under a hand ride.

Jockey Andrea Seefeldt never hit the 2-year-old with the whip as he circled the field and drew off in the stretch to defeat Haggles 'N Hassles by 5 1/2 lengths.

"I was cussing on the backside," Seefeldt said. "I was stuck on the rail with nowhere to go. Then when I went to go out, everybody else did, too. But as it ended up, it didn't make any difference."

Although he was beaten in his first start for a $25,000 tag, Quicken went off the 4-5 favorite in the stakes, which was limited to the offspring of Virginia stallions.

Quicken had been boxed in in his first start but had run the last quarter of that race in a tick slower than 23 seconds, a number that caught the eye of the people who chart speed figures.

Yesterday, he proved he's the real thing.


The son of Gilded Age is trained by Clark Cassidy, 31, who conditions a couple of horses for his mother, Esther Christmas Cassidy, as well as serving as assistant trainer for his father-in-law, Jimmy Murphy.

Esther Cassidy is the owner of Quicken, although the dam

Jangleno is "a family horse," owned by Donnie Christmas and his two sisters, Esther Cassidy, who lives in Rockville, and Sullivan, who lives in Annapolis.

"Every year each of us takes a mare," said Donnie Christmas. "The year Quicken was foaled, Esther had Jangleno."

No one has wanted Jangleno the past couple of years, so she was leased to Spencer Young in Barboursville, Va., who has been breeding her to his stallion, Really Secret.

Quicken is the first Christmas stakes winner since Lady Loose won the Alma North Handicap at Timonium in 1986.


But Quicken, a sixth-generation Christmas-bred runner, has plenty of stakes connections. Jangleno, his dam, won the All Brandy Handicap at Laurel 10 years ago. His great grand-dam, Sue Baru, won the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico in 1965.

They have all been owned and bred by the Christmas family, going back to Cavorting, the matriarch of Quicken's family that was raced by Donnie Christmas' father, Dick Christmas, 40 years ago.

NOTES: Larry Reynolds had his winningest day since he arrived in Maryland about 10 months ago to compete full-time. Reynolds, 22, rode four winners yesterday, including all three winners in the Pick 3. His wins came aboard Betta (fourth race, $12.60), Star Only (fifth race, $119.40), Crafty n Eager (sixth race, $3.20) and Flash Number Two (eighth race, $14). . . . The Pick 3 (races 4-6) paid $602.60. . . . Nancy Alberts, who owns, trains and bred Star Only, said she was thinking of running the filly for an $8,500 instead of $25,000 claiming tag in her first start. "She hadn't shown me much, but then a couple of works ago, she woke up and started to act like a good horse," Alberts said. She recalled that the filly's dam, Awarder, also won her first start and produced a $100 win payoff.