The birth of 3 B Stables came at dinner near the bottoms of a couple of bottles of wine.
The three professional women who had just decided on buying a horse together struggled with a name for their stable. During the salads, they figured they'd come up with something sophisticated that represented their standing in the business world.
But by dessert, filling their glasses a final time, they did what only good friends can do. They got down and dirty.
Their best intentions deteriorated into this: 3 B Stables, meaning "three babes" or "three broads" or, if anyone asked publicly, "three beauties."
On Saturday, someone asked.
The horse they bought, Perfect Challenge, won the $100,000 Maryland Million Lassie at Laurel Park. In the winner's circle, Helen Kelly, Kathy Vetter and Netherland Wilson clutched the winning owners' crystal bowl. They laughed. They smiled. They did what good friends do: They hugged.
Kelly, who initiated the partnership, did the telling.
"I asked if they wanted to come in with me on this filly," she said. "They thought about it a little while, said yes, and here we are."
The three B's, middle-aged administrators at Washington law firms, met 10 years ago at work. Kelly, who lives in Lanham, owned horses since 1982. Vetter and Wilson, who live in Virginia, began accompanying Kelly to the races.
They often discussed buying a horse together, but never did until Kelly led her friends to Murmur Farm in Darlington two years ago to see a spunky, gray, 6-month-old filly. Kelly had bred the filly -- her mare Brass Tassie to the Maryland stallion Sewickley.
Today, that filly is still the only horse they own in partnership -- and for Vetter and Wilson, the only horse they've ever owned.
"I think we're ahead of the game at this point," said a beaming Vetter after Perfect Challenge earned $55,000 for winning the Lassie -- and the prestige that comes with winning a race on Maryland Million Day.
Perfect Challenge has won two of her four races. Her trainer, Linda Albert, was not discouraged when bettors sent the filly off at 30-1 in the Lassie.
"We said a long time ago we were going to win this race," said Albert, based at Bowie Training Center. "I've always liked this horse."
And so have the partners of 3 B Stables. But now they have problem. For winning Saturday, they received a beautiful crystal bowl -- but only one. They all want it. They'll resolve this as only good friends can do.
"That's going to mean another dinner," Kelly said, "and a couple of bottles of wine."
Pub Date: 10/23/98