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 Looking Back

This month in mid-atlantic thoroughbred history! For Looking Back archives click here.

25 years ago

• Stuart S. Janney Jr., one of Maryland’s most prominent horsemen, had two undefeated homebred colts, Private Terms and Finder’s Choice, with Triple Crown aspirations.

Though foaled in Kentucky, the duo had launched their racing careers in Maryland under the guidance of Charlie Hadry. That winter, Finder’s Choice won Laurel’s Dancing Count and Pimlico’s Hirsch Jacobs Stakes, while Private Terms captured Laurel’s General George and Pimlico’s Federico Tesio Stakes. Both runners descended from Bold Irish, a gift to Janney’s late wife Barbara from her mother, Mrs. Henry Carnegie Phipps?–?Private Terms through his female line (his dam Laughter was out of Shenanigans, a daughter of Bold Irish), and Finder’s Choice through the male line, as his sire Buckfinder was also out of Shenanigans.

Janney, a four-time winning rider of the Maryland Hunt Cup (1935, ’42, ’46 and ’47), former chairman of the Maryland Racing Commission, past president of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, former Master of the Green Spring Valley Hounds and a member of The Jockey Club, had bred 19 stakes winners with his wife of more than 50 years, the most famous the great filly Ruffian. The Janneys had never started a horse in a Triple Crown race. “We really don’t know which one is better,” said Janney. “People keep asking us, and we’re not evading the issue. All we know is they’re two nice ones.”

After winning the Grade 1 Wood Memorial Invitational Stakes, Private Terms started the Kentucky Derby-G1 as the co-favorite with Winning Colors, who won; he finished ninth. Finder’s Choice and Private Terms contested the Preakness Stakes-G1, with Private Terms running evenly to finish fourth behind Risen Star, and Finder’s Choice winding up last of nine.

• The fortune of the Capuano family continued to grow due in large part to their late broodmare Yemen’s Mite, the dam of two stakes winners.

Former trainer Phil Capuano and his wife Connie converted a small shed on their six-acre farm in Upper Marlboro, Md., into shelter for Yemen’s Mite when the modest winner retired from racing. Purchased as a yearling in 1966 for $800 (with a partner), she was the only broodmare at the time for the Capuanos: “We lent her out to friends a couple of times because it was so hard to find the money to keep her. Anybody who wanted to use her for a year could just go ahead and use her,” said Phil Capuano.

The first foal bred by the Capuanos out of the daughter of Yemen was Gary’s Friend, winner of the Playpen Stakes at 2 in 1982. He was trained by Phil and Connie’s son Dale, who took out his training license that year at 18 and was rapidly becoming one of the most successful public trainers in Maryland. Silano, Yemen’s Mite’s 1984 foal also trained by Dale, recorded his third career stakes win when taking Laurel’s 1988 Capitol Handicap.

Silano won or placed in 12 of 16 starts that year and went on to race until 1992, retiring with 20 wins, 13 seconds and 12 thirds from 67 starts, and earnings of $693,524 while never risked for a tag. The son of Silver Badge was an eight-time stakes winner with 18 additional stakes placings.

• The $2 million paid by C.N. Ray’s Evergreen Farms for 3-year-old filly Sham Say was by far the most ever for a Maryland-bred filly or mare, sold privately or publicly.

Ray had pursued Eugene Ford and Zelma Morrison’s filly since October. “We told him no, and he came back several times with higher figures,” said Ford. “We refused over and over. Then he offered $1 million, and $1.25 million, and finally after her last race (the Jameela Stakes at Laurel), he agreed to pay the $2 million.”

Bred by Mr. and Mrs. Preston I. Moffett of Winchester, Va., Sham Say was from the second crop of Windfields Farm sire (and Christiana Stables homebred) Oh Say and foaled at Willowdale Farm in Butler.

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