THOROUGHBRED RACING / BILL CHRISTINE : At the Heart of the Matter Is Birthplace


In the winner’s circle after the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita 10 days ago, Burt Bacharach mentioned that Heartlight No. One, his champion filly in 1983, was actually a West Virginia-bred, even though she had been advertised as a Maryland-bred while winning stakes races from California to New York.

The subject came up because Bacharach’s Soul Of The Matter, the winner of the San Felipe and now a leading contender for this year’s Kentucky Derby, is a West Virginia-bred and related on his dam’s side to Heartlight No. One.

West Virginia-breds are the poor relations of the breeding world. A horse from West Virginia has never won the Derby, and, going back to 1966, the first year that the Daily Racing Form’s past performances listed states for all of the starters, there has never even been a West Virginia-bred who has run in the Derby.

It’s too late for Bacharach to transfer Soul Of The Matter out of West Virginia, something that he said hadn’t been done with Heartlight No. One, either.


“I guess this is a confession, but I’ll go on with it,” the award-winning composer said. “We always said Heartlight was from Maryland, but she was really a West Virginia-bred.”

Bacharach didn’t exactly voice this revelation pianissimo. His confession was carried on the simulcast betting network across the country, which included the telecast that was seen in Maryland.

“I wonder how the guy feels who finished second to Heartlight that year,” somebody at Laurel Race Course said.

Where Heartlight No. One was bred had no bearing on her national Eclipse Award, but Bacharach’s filly had also been voted best 3-year-old distaffer among Maryland-breds for 1983.

“We haven’t talked about much else in this office since we heard that Burt Bacharach said that,” said Cindy Deubler, research editor for The Maryland Horse, the bimonthly magazine published by the Maryland Horse Breeders Assn. “Nobody’s said anything, though, about taking away Heartlight’s award. What would this come under, the statute of limitations? Our policy is that if the Jockey Club accepts the (breeding) registration, we do, too.”

Rest easy, Burt. There will be no extradition back to Maryland to face charges. Your manager at Country Roads Farm in Charles Town, W.Va., Vinnie Moscarelli, vouches for the authenticity of Heartlight No. One as a Maryland-bred.

“Heartlight’s dam (Icantell) was a little early (foaling), but we got her to Maryland in time, about a week ahead of time as I remember,” Moscarelli said this week. “Heartlight No. One was foaled at Dennis Kamber’s farm. That’s in Maryland, about a 30-minute ride from the West Virginia line, about 45 minutes from Country Roads. Everything else about Heartlight was West Virginia, though. She went back to Country Lands with us after she was foaled, and after she left us, as a 2-year-old, the only places she raced were California and New York.”

Breeding rules vary according to the state. To qualify as a Maryland-bred, a foal must be sired by a stallion standing in the state, and the mare must be in the state at the time of foaling. The California rule is similar, but with this extension: If the California-dropped foal is sired by an out-of-state stallion, it will still be considered a California-bred as long as the mare is next bred to a California stallion.


For years, the story has been knocking around--never corroborated, probably apocryphal--about Needles, the 1956 Kentucky Derby winner. Needles became the first Florida-bred to win the Derby, but the report lingers that his dam, Noodle Soup, was in a railroad boxcar, somewhere in Georgia, when she foaled the colt short of the Florida state line. Georgia and West Virginia are just two of 36 states that have never produced Derby winners.

Pennsylvania left the list of have-not states when Lil E. Tee won the Derby in 1992. According to Moscarelli, Lil E. Tee became a Pennsylvania-bred when his dam, Eileen’s Moment, was moved from New Jersey late in her pregnancy.

“It had something to do with the generous (state) purse fund that was available to Pennsylvania-breds,” Moscarelli said.

But the combination of being a Pennsylvania-bred and a yearling who had undergone stomach surgery did nothing for Lil E. Tee’s salability. His breeder, Larry Littman, took the colt to Florida to consign him to an auction, but was so discouraged by word of mouth about his horse that he withdrew him from the sale.


Littman finally sold Lil E. Tee for $2,000. That offer, the only one Littman got, came from the colt’s blacksmith. Lil E. Tee was sold two more times, for $25,000 and $200,000, before winning the Derby for Cal Partee. Retired last year, Lil E. Tee earned $1.4 million, joining Go For Wand as the most famous Pennsylvania-breds ever. Should Soul Of The Matter win this year’s Derby, he would stand alone in West Virginia.

Horse Racing Notes

Chris Antley, winning the last three races and four for the card, was aboard Silver Music, a 23-1 shot, for a half-length victory Wednesday in the Baldwin Stakes. Fifteen lengths back early, Silver Music outfinished Eagle Eyed in the 3-year-old colt’s California debut. Before the Baldwin, Silver Music raced in Florida, where he broke his maiden last October in a $50,000 claiming race. His only other stake appearance was an 11th-place finish in the Tropical Park Derby. The Baldwin gave Silver Music his third victory in 12 starts. . . . Antley moved into fourth place in the Santa Anita jockey standings with 52 wins for the meet, but trails the leader, Kent Desormeaux, by 20.

A horse was killed and another horse and an exercise rider were injured in an accident at Santa Anita Wednesday. Bold Current, a 7-year-old gelding, died of a broken neck and his rider, Korrin Wardlaw, was sent to a hospital for treatment of pain in his lower back and numbness in his left leg. Bold Current was working in company with a stablemate when Maisonsaire, who had been jogging near the outside rail, spooked and angled in their direction. Bold Current ran into the rear end of Maisonsaire, who is owned in a partnership that includes Wilt Chamberlain. Maisonsaire suffered a bruised hip that might also be fractured.


Lakeway, probably the best 3-year-old filly in the country, has been nominated to the Triple Crown races. . . . Richard Cummings, vice president at Churchill Downs, has resigned to become president of R.D. Hubbard’s greyhound track in Portland, Ore. Cummings succeeds Lonny Powell, who will become general manager of Turf Paradise, the Phoenix thoroughbred track recently bought by Hollywood Park. Hubbard is chairman of Hollywood Park.