Melissa Ann Tokarz remembers the filly in the auction ring last December at Timonium.
"She had a lot of presence, a very sharp look in her eye," Tokarz said. "She bounced around the walking ring like she thought she was somebody."
She was. The chestnut filly by Eastover Court out of Beware of the Ace was judged grand champion last Sunday at the 2000 Maryland Horse Breeders Association's yearling show at the state fairgrounds.
Bobby Frankel, the Hall of Fame trainer, considered 108 Maryland-bred yearlings before settling on the lively chestnut. Tokarz and her fiance, Earl Begley, a trainer at Pimlico, bought her at Timonium for $5,000. They recently sold a 50-percent interest in her to Joe Ludford, a farrier, and Mark Wheeler, a doctor.
Tokarz's mother, Betsy Lambiasi, helped her prepare the filly for the show. The filly resides at Lambiasi's farm in Glyndon. If all goes well, she'll begin racing in fall 2001.
Tokarz received approval Friday from the Jockey Club on her request for the filly's name: Ace Up Her Sleeve.
Other yearling-show winners:
Class I (colts and geldings foaled in Maryland before April 7, 1999, out of mares covered in state in 1998): Denver And Over, a chestnut colt by Two Punch out of Moment's Delight; owned and bred by Charles J. Reed, Reisterstown. Groom's award: Melinda Moss.
Class II (colts and geldings foaled in Maryland on or after April 7, 1999, out of mares covered in state in 1998): Bay colt by Northern Raja out of Garden Wall; owned and bred by Glenn Stable, Glyndon. Groom's award: Greg Reason.
Class III (colts and geldings foaled in Maryland in 1999 out of mares covered out of state in 1998): Withoutreservation, a dark bay or brown colt by Pioneering out of Tough to Touch; owned and bred by Bittersweet Farm, Westminster. Groom's award: William R. Boniface.
Class IV (fillies foaled in Maryland before April 19, 1999, out of mares covered in state in 1998): Bay filly by Northern Raja out of Distant Purple; owned and bred by Mrs. W.J.Y. Martin Jr., Glyndon. Groom's award: Lynne Dockman.
Class V (fillies foaled in Maryland on or after April 19, 1999, out of mares covered in state in 1998): Chestnut filly by Eastover Court out of Beware of the Ace; bred by Ryehill Farm; owned by Melissa Ann Tokarz. Groom's award: Melissa Ann Tokarz.
Class VI (fillies foaled in Maryland in 1999 out of mares covered out of state in 1998): Chestnut filly by Gold Case out of Golden Ode; owned and bred by Robert T. Manfuso, West Friendship. This filly was judged reserve champion. Groom's award: Wilmer Coe.
The Worthington Farms Challenge Trophy went to Northern Raja, sire of two class winners.
On July 6, 1975, Ruffian shattered her right front ankle in a match race against Foolish Pleasure, that year's Derby winner.
On Thursday, 25 years later, ESPN will broadcast a 30-minute documentary about the filly beginning at 9 p.m. on ESPN Classic.
Stuart S. Janney III, whose parents owned Ruffian, saw a screening of the show last week in New York. Janney lives in Butler.
"I think it's very well done," Janney said. "I think they handled everything very well."
The show contains graphic footage of Ruffian's injury and the frantic effort to save her. She died early the next morning.
Entering the match race at Belmont Park, Ruffian had won all 10 of her races and had never been headed. She was buried in the Belmont infield.
Weighing the sale
Janney, a breeder with strong ties to Kentucky, said he's heard the talk out of the Blue Grass state about last week's sale of Fusaichi Pegasus to Ashford Stud, the North American division of the worldwide Coolmore Stud.
Ashford reportedly paid between $60 million and $70 million for the Kentucky Derby winner, a record price for a stallion. The previous record was $40 million for Shareef Dancer in 1983.
"Most of the Kentucky farms dropped out at $35 million or $40 million,' Janney said. "What drove it up was Coolmore vs. the Arabs."
Janney said the Dubai-based Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum apparently wanted to buy the horse to race through his 4-year-old season. Ashford apparently wants the Mr. Prospector colt, now 3, as a stallion next year for duty in the United States and Australia.
Janney said he doesn't believe the astronomical price for Fusaichi Pegasus is a reflection on the stallion market or anything else.
"I think it's a unique situation," he said.
He said the speculation is widespread that Fusaichi Pegasus, in training in California, will not race again. If he should lose, his value could plummet.
His stud fee is expected to be $150,000 to $200,000.
Around the tracks
Best of Luck, the Maryland-bred champion of 1999, has been retired and will stand at stud next year at Dell Ridge Farm near Lexington.
Bred by Allaire duPont and owned by duPont's Bohemia Stable in Cecil County, Best of Luck suffered a strained ligament in his left foreleg while racing in New York. His record in 23 starts was 4-7-3. He earned $616,790.
The summer highlights of the region's thoroughbred racing season are approaching: the $300,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash July 15 at Laurel Park and the $600,000 Delaware Handicap July 23 at Delaware Park.
On Friday, Bally's at Ocean Downs began its final season under current ownership. The harness track near Ocean City races through Sept. 2. Shortly after that, Cloverleaf Enterprises , which owns Rosecroft Raceway, will take over the summer track and year-round simulcasting center.