02/16/2007 1:00AM

Hopes high as foaling season gets under way


Foaling season is in full swing, and few things can spur hopes and dreams more than seeing the newest arrivals by a young stallion.

"From a stallion manager's point of view, this is the most exciting time there is," said Don Litz of Maryland Stallion Station in Glyndon.

Five popular Maryland stallions who stood their first year in 2006 have babies on the ground. The first reported foal by a stallion from this year's freshman class is a bay colt by Dance With Ravens born on Jan. 11 at Tom and Chris Bowman's Dance Forth Farm in Chestertown, Md.

Dance With Ravens, who stands at Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City, had the biggest book among the first-year sires in 2006, covering 126 mares (only Northview's second-year stallion Domestic Dispute bred as many mares last year). His first foal is out of the Bowmans' graded-stakes-placed mare Pajamas (by Cherokee Run).

A 5-year-old graded stakes-winning son of A.P. Indy out of the remarkable racehorse and producer Dance Smartly, Dance With Ravens stands this season for $7,500.

Three stallions standing at Maryland Stallion Station have their first crop arriving this year. The leading earner of the trio, six-time stakes winner Gators N Bears, was bred to 71 mares, and the first of his foals was born on Jan. 12.

Out of multiple stakes winner Foxie G's half-sister Bet Me Now (by Frisk Me Now), the Gators N Bears filly was bred by James Binder and foaled at At Last Farm in Aquasco, Md.

Gators N Bears, an earner of $804,393, is a son of Stormy Atlantic-I'll Be Along, by Notebook. His stud fee is $5,000.

Also standing at Maryland Stallion Station is Grade 2 Super Derby winner Fantasticat, a son of Storm Cat out of Alydar's graded stakes-winning daughter Lotta Dancing. Fantasticat reportedly has two foals on the ground, both born at Shamrock Farms in Woodbine, Md.

"Both of Fantasticat's foals I've seen are awesome," said Litz, who added that when mare owners see a stallion's first foals, it helps with selling the young stallion for the upcoming breeding season.

Fantasticat's first foal, a chestnut colt delivered on Jan. 30, is also the first for the mare Mullingar (by Roy), owned by Dr. Elizabeth Schultz.

Grade 2 winner St Averil, who bred 41 mares his first season, rounds out Maryland Stallion Station's freshman corps, and his first born came on the evening of Feb. 4, during the Super Bowl. Out of La Tina (by Labeeb), the bay colt was foaled at Bill and Denise Dommel's Land of Believe Farm in Annville, Pa.

Both St Averil and Fantasticat stand for $4,500.

The Pons family's Country Life Farm in Bel Air received word that the first foal by Oratory, a graded stakes-winning son of Pulpit out of black-type winner Arrested Dreams, was born at Waldorf Farm in North Chatham, N.Y. Bred by Tom and Joan Farrone, the chestnut filly out of the mare Taylor D (by Precise End) was foaled on Feb. 2.

A succession of lightly raced stallions have launched successful careers at Country Life Farm. Oratory, who finished first or second in all five of his starts, began his career by breeding 108 mares in 2006. He stands this season for $5,000.

Maryland's Triple Crown nominees

Five Maryland-breds are listed among the early nominees to this year's Triple Crown.

Two of the nominees are stakes-placed runners - Bianchi's Boy and Digger, who ran second and third to Roaring Lion in the Maryland Juvenile Championship Stakes at Laurel Park on Dec. 30.

Bianchi's Boy, who hasn't started since that race, turned heads in 2005 when he was named grand champion of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association's annual yearling show. Bianchi's Boy, a bay colt by Cryptoclearance-Lady Tiara (by Vice Regent), is owned by William Heiligbrodt and his trainer, Dale Romans, and was bred by Cary W. Jackson.

Digger (Yonaguska-Da Choice, by Dehere; owned by William E. Wise, trained by Phil Schoenthal, bred by Skeedattle Associates) has made one start since December, winning a

1 1/8-mile allowance at Laurel Park on Jan. 18.

The three other Maryland Triple Crown nominees are:

* Arturus Rex, by Capote-Royal Feat (by Kingmambo), who is owned by Timber Bay Farm, trained by William J. Entenmann, and was bred by Frank P. Wright. He has yet to start.

* Lucky Will, by Royal Academy-Lucky Lady Sarah (by Polish Numbers), who is owned by Yes Man Stable, trained by Robert B. Hess Jr., and was bred by Kaygar Stables. Based in California, Lucky Will most recently started at Santa Anita on Feb. 1, finishing off the board in a maiden special weight.

* Steve's Double, by Stephen Got Even-Think Double (by Al Nasr-Fr), who is owned by Oxbow Racing LLC, trained by Ronny Werner, and was bred by Acorn Hill Farm Inc. Steve's Double finished off the board in his debut at the Fair Grounds on Feb. 12.