When the voters sit down next month to decide who will be thoroughbred racing's owner and breeder of the year, they have got to think real hard about giving the Eclipse Award in either or both categories to Maryland's Robert Meyerhoff.
The Outstanding Owner category is determined by votes cast by three groups -- the racing secretaries at member tracks of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations, Daily Racing Form personnel and members of the National Turf Writers Association. Outstanding Breeder is selected by a six-member panel of industry representatives.
Meyerhoff is closing out 1994 like one of his Broad Brush-sired runners -- he is finishing fast at the end of a long campaign.
Concern's victory in the $3 million Breeders' Cup Classic last weekend moved Meyerhoff from sixth to second in the national standings. Through Nov. 6, he is $142,379 in earnings behind Juddmonte Farms, the far-flung global empire of Saudi Arabian prince Khalid Abdullah.
Abdullah has almost 120 horses in training in France and Britain and another 40 in America. He owns six farms in England, Ireland and the United States and employs 13 trainers worldwide, three of whom -- Bobby Frankel, Ron McAnally and Bill Mott -- are in this country. He can interchange horses with regularity from continent to continent.
Abdullah's best American runners this year include Grade I Pacific Classic winner Tinners Way, Arlington Classic winner Eagle Eyed and double stakes winners Fanmore and Skimble.
Stacked up against this international thoroughbred conglomerate is Meyerhoff's more concentrated outfit -- his entire racing stable comes from the offspring of 17 mares quartered at his 300-acre Fitzhugh Farm in Baltimore County.
When his 2-year-old filly, Special Broad, won the Grade III Tempted Stakes at Aqueduct on Tuesday, she became the ninth 1994 stakes winner bred by Meyerhoff. Meyerhoff races eight of them, including Special Broad, himself. The others are Concern, Looming, Sticks n Bricks, Broad Gains, Fleet Broad, Higher Strata and Tennis Lady. The ninth added-money winner, Jan Keys, earned stakes brackets after Meyerhoff lost the horse in a claiming race.
In addition to racing eight 1994 homebred stakes winners, which have cumulatively won a dozen stakes, Meyerhoff has campaigned five other 1994 stakes-placed horses -- the recently retired Valley Crossing, Frottage, Private High, Up An Eighth and Fleet Call.
The stable's collective earnings through Nov. 6 exceed $3.7 million and have also placed Meyerhoff's trainer, Dick Small, seventh in the national rankings, ahead of such trainers as Shug McGaughey, Gary Jones and Scotty Schulhofer.
Of Meyerhoff's 13 stakes runners, nine of them are sired by Broad Brush, his homebred stallion that won $2.6 million in the late 1980s.
In short, Meyerhoff's success from such a small outfit is staggering.
Most breeders with the quality of mares that Meyerhoff has accumulated don't race them. They sell the offspring as yearlings. And by breeding most of his mares to Broad Brush, Meyerhoff has become a '90s throwback to the old Calumet Farm dynasty that bred and raced its champions from one chief sire, Bull Lea. Such Old Guard owner-breeders hardly exist anymore.
As a regional owner-breeder from Maryland, Meyerhoff is giving Abdullah's vast international enterprise a real run for its money in the owners' race.
As a breeder, Meyerhoff's stiffest competition will likely come from William T. Young's Overbrook Farm. Young not only bred likely 2-year-old filly champion Flanders, but also Preakness and Belmont winner Tabasco Cat, in partnership with David Reynolds.
A horseman in the house
When the hot issue of casino gambling comes up in the General Assembly this legislative session, the state's horse racing industry will have a new proponent in the House of Delegates.
He is 43-year-old Ken Holt, the top vote getter in last Tuesday's race for the House from District 6, which comprises parts of Baltimore and Harford counties.
Holt is a lifelong horseman and runs a modest thoroughbred operation at his farm, Mt. Peru, in Bradshaw. He owns two broodmares, is raising three young horses and has one runner, ** Winning Brass, at Laurel Park with trainer Carlos Garcia.
Holt, a vice president of Dean Witter Discover, Inc., decided to run for office after becoming heavily involved in community affairs in Baltimore and Harford counties.
"It was a 12-year process and I only ran for office once I felt I had the background and credentials to become a viable candidate," Holt said. He became the first Republican ever voted into the House from District 6.
Holt's style is to roll up his sleeves and work hard, which is exactly what he did in staging a door-to-door campaign.
One might describe his stance on casino gambling as fairly firm. "I'm against anything that could undermine the state's pari-mutuel industry," Holt said.
But, he added, he's not about to give his constituents any tips on how well Winning Brass might run at Laurel this week.
Cracked Claw license renewed
One of the items on the agenda of the Maryland Racing Commission meeting at Timonium last week was the renewal of the license for the Cracked Claw, the state's most successful off-track betting parlor, near Frederick.
Owner-operator Johnny Poole said that Breeders' Cup Day last Saturday was the most successful in the outlet's two-year history. A total of $315,000 was bet at the parlor, nearly as much as the $356,589 wagered at the nearby Charles Town Races, which also staged a live nighttime card as well as the Breeders' Cup simulcasts.
Should Charles Town close, as its management announced it will do after Dec. 11, Poole should be the chief beneficiary since his parlor is about 30 miles from the track.
Laurel/Pimlico vice president of racing Lenny Hale said he is willing to work with any horsemen at Charles Town who might want to move their outfits to Maryland. But he estimated that only about 10 to 20 percent of the Charles Town horses could be competitive on the Maryland circuit.
Harness horsemen at Rosecroft Raceway are expected to receive a purse increase in the next couple of weeks after recently being underpaid by about $500,000. . . . Jockey Frank Douglas is back in action after being sidelined for three months with a broken ankle. Douglas won a pair of races at Laurel last week, and also won a race at The Meadowlands. . . . Rosemary Homeister has officially received the 1992 Eclipse Award as the nation's leading apprentice after it was discovered that the original winner, Jesus Bracho, was ineligible. Bracho had ridden more winners in his native Panama than he had claimed and was not eligible to ride in the United States under apprentice conditions.