Three prominent Maryland breeders -- Lehr Jackson of Monkton and Herb Moelis and Allaire duPont of Chesapeake City -- have an unexpected runner today in the Breeders' Cup.
The group, along with Dennis Danko of Middleburg, Va. and Charles Hesse III of Oceanport, N.J., bought the 6-year-old horse, Now Listen, after he won his last start, the Louisiana Downs Budweiser Breeders' Cup, on Oct. 9.
But the horse, who starts in the Breeders' Cup Sprint today as a 15-1 long shot, didn't draw into the race until Wednesday.
At pre-entry time last week, the horse was ranked second on the Also Eligibles List.
But when two horses, Gold Spring and Catrail withdrew, the European horse, Monde Bleu, and Now Listen were allowed to run.
Moelis said yesterday that the group plans to run the horse "a couple of more times" and then he will be retired to Jackson's Corbett Farm in Monkton where 1985 Breeders' Cup Classic winner, Proud Truth, is at stud.
Now Listen has won 9 of 22 starts and has earned $577,802. He is a son of former leading sire, Miswaki, and is trained by Bobby Frankel. Pat Day rides the horse.
No controversy this year
The Breeders' Cup Selection Committee usually finds itself in the center of controversy because it decides which horses run in the seven Breeders' Cup races.
But the closest thing to controversy this year occurred when the group, which includes Marylander Lenny Hale, allowed Gilded Time to run in the Sprint. The top eight horses in each race are decided by a point system. After that the selection committee picks the next six runners.
Gilded Time had not run in a year, but Hale made the argument that an undefeated Grade I winner should be allowed in the race. The nine-man board agreed.
Faces in the crowd
Among Marylanders seen at Santa Anita:
Mike Pons, of Country Life Farm in Bel Air. Creston, a starter in the Juvenile Colts race, is a half brother to Pons' new stallion, Compelling Sound. . . . Glyndon breeders Lenny and Patricia Pineau. . . . Retired Pimlico general manager Chick Lang. . . . Laurel/Pimlico co-owner Bob Manfuso and trainer Katy Voss. . . . Hall of Fame steeplechase trainer Mike Smithwick of Hydes. His son, Speedy, trains a string at Santa Anita for Jack Kent Cooke. . . . Equine photographers Lydia Williams and Rick Buckley. . . . Poppett Pitts and Jerry Stautberg of Monkton.