When Aggadan pinned his ears, steeled his determination and refused to let the challenger pass, Cynthia McGinnes thought of Horatius. That's how he would have done it.
Aggadan's triumph in the $100,000 Jennings Handicap yesterday at Pimlico represented the ninth victory this year by a horse bred by Cynthia and Charles McGinnes at their Thornmar Farm in Chestertown on the Eastern Shore.
"This is our career year," said Cynthia, who has bred horses at Thornmar with her husband since 1971. "We'll never have another year like this."
The 29-year-old Horatius - gallant, handsome and retired as a stallion at Thornmar - anchored the McGinnes operation for two decades. He sired the mare Georgia K., who produced Aggadan from a mating with Carnivalay. The magnificent Carnivalay, 23, is also retired as a stallion at his long-time home, Country Life Farm near Bel Air.
"Aggadan is really a product of two great old Maryland horses," Cynthia McGinnes said. "He has Horatius' toughness and Carnivalay's brilliance."
The 5-year-old Aggadan, stabled at Aqueduct with the trainer Richard E. Dutrow Jr., needed both attributes in the Jennings. He bounded out of the gate as the 3-5 favorite, settled into fourth down the backstretch and charged between horses to take the lead in the homestretch.
But then the Bowie-based Irish Colony surged on the outside and not only challenged Aggadan. but also dwarfed him. Aggadan looked like a girl's pony next to the towering Irish Colony. But the undersized Aggadan lowered his head and, under aggressive left-handed whipping by New York jockey Ariel Smith, held off his challenger to win by a half length.
His time for the 1 1/8 miles was 1 minute, 52.80 seconds. He paid $3.40 to win and headed an $8.60 exacta. The pacesetter, New York Hero, held on for third. The trifecta paid $50.60.
"He felt that horse outside of him, and he dug in and hit another gear," Smith said of Aggadan.
The McGinneses own 30 mares, and foal 20 to 22 babies each year. They sell them as yearlings, usually at Timonium. Buyers recognize a McGinnes-bred yearling for its soundness and durability.
These are the McGinnes-bred stakes winners so far this year (all at Pimlico): Aggadan (Jennings Handicap and Challedon Stakes), Water Cannon (Federico Tesio, Private Terms and Miracle Wood stakes), What's Up Lonely (Maryland Million Nursery), Two Punch Gal (Politely Stakes), Monster Chaser (Rollicking Stakes) and Love You Madly (Skipat Stakes).
NOTES: Michael Gill, the leading owner in Maryland, is challenging for the record of most wins by an owner in the country. As of Friday, his horses had won 467 races. The record is 494. ... A crew from MTV has begun filming Pimlico jockey Ryan Fogelsonger for the documentary series True Life: I Want The Perfect Body II, which will air in May or June. The show, essentially, will be a day in the life of the 23-year-old jockey. ... Making his first start since finishing eighth in the Preakness, Philadelphia Park-based Little Matth Man won his comeback race yesterday at Pimlico.