03/08/2002 12:00AM

Housebuster: New peak at Blue Ridge


Champion sprinter Housebuster has gone the route as a sire, in more ways than one. Not only is he a proven success, with some $20 million in progeny earnings and at least 45 stakes horses to his credit, but he has made his stud career in three countries - the United States, Japan, and Australia.

In 2002, Housebuster's travels brought him to Virginia, where he ranks as the most accomplished sire ever to stand in the state.

Housebuster's new home is Blue Ridge Farm, a blissfully serene 517-acre establishment adjacent to the late Paul Mellon's Rokeby Farm on the outskirts of Middleburg. His arrival in Virginia is a result of the efforts of Virginia horsewoman Donna Hayes, who purchased Housebuster in Japan and subsequently arranged his syndication, and Paul Maxwell, a 32-year-old native Irishman who operates a stallion business located at Blue Ridge.

The group of four stallions standing in 2002 for Maxwell's Blue Ridge Stables also includes the state's second-leading sire, Supremo. Together with Housebuster, Hay Halo, and Prenup, the foursome represents the latest chapter in the long history of Blue Ridge Farm, which is Virginia's oldest active Thoroughbred establishment. And, like much of what has happened at Blue Ridge over the years, it is in keeping with the spirit of Admiral Cary T. Grayson, who established Blue Ridge in the late 1920's.

Grayson, a native Culpeper County, Va., horseman, had a remarkable and farflung career - as President Woodrow Wilson's personal physician, chairman of the American Red Cross, and a crusader for equine medical research. His efforts led to the formation of what is now the Grayson-Jockey Club Foundation. Thoroughbred racing and breeding remained a strong avocation for Grayson throughout much of his life, and he achieved noteworthy success as the owner of 1923 2-year-old filly champion Fluvanna, and breeder of handicap stars Marriage and Market Wise, winner of the 1941 Jockey Club Gold Cup and 1942 Suburban Handicap.

Following Grayson's death in 1938, Blue Ridge maintained its prominence under the guidance of his widow, who remarried to become Mrs. George L. Harrison, and later the Graysons' sons, Cary Jr., Gordon, and William. Today, the farm belongs to a corporation comprised of numerous descendants, with William's son, George Grayson, closely involved in the oversight of the operation.

Blue Ridge leases a portion of the horse facilities, including three barns, to Maxwell. In addition, George Grayson and Maxwell maintain a partnership that owns about 35 broodmares and yearlings.

Maxwell, who worked at Ireland's Coolmore Stud before coming to the U.S. about eight years ago, is now in his second season at Blue Ridge. He expects to breed nearly 80 mares to Housebuster, whom he describes as a "huge opportunity for himself personally, and for the Virginia breeding industry in general."

Here are brief profiles of Blue Ridge's other stallions:

Supremo (1992, by Gone West-Personal Glory, by Danzig): Graded stakes winner. Has stood dual hemisphere seasons in Australia and U.S. Progeny earnings of more than $2 million from three crops to race.

Prenup (1991, by Smarten-Homewrecker, by Buckaroo): Grade 1 winner. Half-brother to three stakes winners. Represented by three stakes horses in first two crops.

Hay Halo (1984, Halo-Hay Patcher, by Hoist the Flag): Multiple stakes winner. Half-brother to leading sire Broad Brush. Sire of at least 18 stakes horses; progeny earnings exceed $7.2 million.

Also residing at Blue Ridge is 1981 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Pleasant Colony, who moved there from the Kentucky Horse Park in May 2000.

Described as the "Marlon Brando of them all" by Maxwell's assistant, Lissa McCauley, Pleasant Colony is living out his life in a manner befitting a champion.