In the fall of 1992, Charlotte Weber and her husband had a day to remember.
In a short span on a Saturday afternoon in New York, their daughter was married and their two superior runners, Sultry Song and Solar Splendor, won Grade I stakes races at Belmont Park.
Racing in the Webers' Live Oak Stud colors and trained by Pat Kelly, Sultry Song won the Woodward Stakes on the main track, and his half-brother, Solar Splendor, won the Man o'War on the grass.
When their racing careers ended, both horses were millionaires. Sultry Song went to stud at famed Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky., and Solar Splendor, a gelding, went back to the 5,000-plus acre Live Oak Plantation in Ocala. Not long after, the Webers divorced, and Charlotte Weber took charge of the breeding and racing operation she previously left mostly to her husband.
Sunday at Tampa Bay Downs, despite the rain, Charlotte Weber's afternoon again was filled with splendor. She watched with friends in track owner Stella Thayer's VIP Room as her Song for Annie won the $100,000 Hillsborough Stakes, the prelude to the track's premier races, the Tampa Bay Derby and Florida Oaks.
Song for Annie is a 5-year-old mare by Sultry Song, and although she was bred in Kentucky, she was brought back to Live Oak as a youngster to receive her training for the races. She was ridden then by exercise rider Johnny Collins, now the farm manager at Live Oak.
Song for Annie's victory on the grass was worth $60,000 and raised her career total to $256,272. She is 6-3-2 in 18 starts, and this was her fifth victory in her past six races, and second in a stakes. She won the $75,000 Furl Sail at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans.
Are lots of Sultry Song's babies doing well for Live Oak?
"Not as many as I would have liked," said Weber, a member of the board of directors of the Campbell Soup Co. "I've changed my program, giving the whole operation _ racing and breeding _ a better chance to succeed."
She said that even though Song for Annie had been campaigning for months in Louisiana, they had talked about coming to Tampa Bay Downs for the past two months.
"I want the black-type for the mare when I bring her home. She's now a multiple stakes-winner and seems to just be blossoming," Weber said.
"We'll keep her at the track this year, and next year she'll go to the breeding shed."
In the 1970s and early '80s, a portion of the Live Oak land was leased to noted businessman and horseman Butch Savin, who called the farm Aisco after his A.I. Savin Co. Savin owned the legendary Mr. Prospector, who began his stud career at the farm and became so successful with his first few crops that the lords of the bluegrass came with wallets bulging and whisked the stallion away to Claiborne Farm.
When Savin left Live Oak to build a farm in north Ocala, Mr. Prospector's stall was used for the Clydesdales that have become famous for Live Oak, which annually sponsors a draft horse. Weber's son, Chester, is a celebrated driver.
For now, it's Song for Annie and the quest to win more races and more money to further enhance her breeding career.
"We're considering sending her to Kentucky for her next race," Weber said.
AQUEDUCT: Unbeaten Richly Blended led all the way in posting a 5-length victory in the $200,000 Gotham Stakes for 3-year-olds. In winning his third race, Richly Blended carried 116 pounds with Rick Wilson over 1 mile in 1:35. Richly Blended appeared to have plenty left at the end of the prep for the 1[-mile Wood Memorial on April 14. Mr. John finished second, a neck ahead of Voodoo in the field of eight.
OAKLAWN: Heritage of Gold successfully defended her Breeders' Cup Stakes title, beating Lu Ravi by 2 lengths in the $200,000 race for fillies and mares.
HIALEAH: Proud Man raced to his fifth victory in six starts, beating Baptize by 2 lengths in the $100,000 Everglades Stakes for 3-year-olds. Proud Man, ridden by Rene Douglas, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43 and paid $5.60, $3.60 and $2.40. Baptize was second and Strategic Partner third.
FOOT-AND-MOUTH: British racing officials dismissed reports that Queen Elizabeth II called for the sport to be suspended.
The British Horseracing Board said the queen, who owns horses and attends meets including Royal Ascot and the English Derby, expressed her views on the foot-and-mouth problem sweeping Britain. But Tristram Ricketts, the board's secretary general, denied a report that she called for racing to be stopped.
DERBY LANE: BD's Phillip finished second for a third consecutive stakes Saturday night. He drifted wide in the backstretch, moving Stan's Boy Flyer, the favorite, out of the way and allowing Betcha By Design to drive by on the rail and post a first feature victory for the Capabal Kennel. Craigie Whistler, the second betting choice, slipped out of the box and made up tremendous ground only to be shut off in the far turn to finish sixth. Betcha By Design paid $20.40 to win, heading the superfecta worth over $6,000. Cahill and O'Connor greyhounds posted 12 wins last week. The kennel houses the season's wins leader, Oneco Sudsy (11-for-16). Owners Tim Cahill and Cindy O'Connor are bringing in He's Bear Man, who ran second in the Texas Spring Meet, senior division, on Saturday. Most of the pups from Texas move on to Oklahoma, then to Kansas for the April meet. "I'm bringing Bear to St. Pete," Cahill said. "He looks good enough to compete with the runners there. Bear will be schooling in early April." The focus will move from sprinters to distance runners for Round 1 of the $100,000 Distance Classic on Saturday night. Flying Waterford was the early favorite last year but was scratched before competition. He is back and is the early favorite. Touche Baby and Kiowa WW Hurby, finalists last year, also are scheduled to run, as is Derby winner Boot Scootin Gal and Consolation winner Greys Free Bird. Puppy Preview winner Courageous Nicky was moved to the longer distance, where he won back-to-back races Wednesday.
_ Correspondent Vera Filipelli and Times wires contributed to this report.