06/27/2002 11:00PM

Busy man makes time for 'special project'

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Tom Bowman already fills several important roles within Maryland's breeding industry - as a veterinarian renowned for his success with problem broodmares, a leading breeder/owner, and co-owner/founder of Northview Stallion Station. Last week, he took on yet another challenge when the Maryland Horse Breeders Association's board of directors elected him to serve as the organization's new president. The entire slate of officers was replaced; other members of the new regime are Redmond C.S. Finney, vice president, and William K. Boniface, secretary/treasurer.

For many people, Bowman's election prompts two questions: How will he fit the new volunteer duties into his already crowded schedule? And does he plan to chart a new course for the MHBA?

To which Bowman answers: He will find the time. And yes, expect to see some changes.

Bowman, 59, is stepping into the MHBA's top leadership role at a crucial time within the Maryland Thoroughbred industry, which is facing unprecedented competition from surrounding states, and an imminent campaign for slots at the racetracks. Bowman promises a fresh approach to the issues.

"I never had one ounce of political aspiration," said Bowman, who has served eight years on the MHBA board. "I was reluctant to do more than serve on the board. But there was a sense among various board members that changes are needed. I was drafted, recruited."

Bowman said his routine has been to take on "special projects" in the afternoons, after seeing equine patients in the morning, and the MHBA will be his special project for at least the next year.

Slots machines are "in the forefront of everyone's mind, and if expanded gaming is legalized, Maryland breeding and racing will get healthy in a hurry," acknowledged Bowman. But rather than focus solely on slots-lobbying efforts, Bowman intends to launch a wide-scale public relations effort, while "involving a lot of new and different people in the administration of the organization.

"My biggest goal will be to try to demonstrate how much the heritage and institution of raising horses in Maryland has meant to the state. We need to increase the public's awareness of what it means to raise horses - how important it is from an economic standpoint, how many people it employs, how much land it preserves. We need to point out all the beauty and wonder of raising horses in the state of Maryland," he said.

Bowman also hopes to establish a strong working relationship between the MHBA and the University of Maryland. "There's a lot they can do to supply us with information, about agriculture and farming techniques," said Bowman.

"What I have in mind is a mutually beneficial situation, with the horse industry giving back to the university through internships and other opportunities to learn about our business."

Bowman and his wife, Chris, have bred and raced horses in Maryland for some 30 years and were Maryland's breeders of the year in 1998, a season in which they were represented as breeders by four stakes winners, including Grade 1 star Tenski, whom they co-bred with Victor Ives. They own and operate two farms: 60-acre Dance Forth Farm in Chestertown, Md., their homeplace where Bowman each season oversees the foaling of nearly 50 mares; and 220-acre Roland Farm in Chesapeake City, Md., co-owned by the Bowmans and his sister and brother-in-law, Emma and Bijoy Ghosh. Roland Farm, located adjacent to Northview Stallion Station, houses mares with foals and yearlings, and is managed by the Bowmans' daughter Becky Davis, who has established a successful business of her own as a bloodstock agent.

Bowmands veterinary practice is mostly centered in the Chesapeake City area. He is assisted by a full-time associate, Dr. Jason Layfield.