09/07/2001 12:00AM

Hardin, breeder and owner, dead

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Virginia Thoroughbred breeder and owner Mark Hardin, who stood some of the state's most successful stallions, died Tuesday after a long illness. He was 70.

Hardin, a former director of the Virginia Thoroughbred Association, operated two of Virginia's top farms, Newstead Farm in Upperville and Rockburn Farm in Marshall, during his career as a breeder. Hardin's father, Taylor, developed Newstead into a premier commercial breeding operation. After the deaths of Taylor Hardin in 1976 and his second wife, Katherine "Tatine" Bliss Hardin, in 1977, the farm was operated by a three-man trust, including Mark Hardin. Ultimately, that trust was terminated and Newstead horses dispersed in 1985.

The dispersal, at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky, featured some of the nation's most productive broodmares. Among the most noteworthy lots were Miss Oceana, who sold for a world-record $7 million; Larida, who brought a record barren-mare price of $4 million; and the dam of both those mares, Kittiwake, who sold for $3.8 million.

During his career as a stallion owner and manager, Hardin stood such prominent Virginia sires Linkage, Cefis, and Quadratic.