12/12/2003 12:00AM

Loss overshadows career highlight


Until a couple of weeks ago, 2003 had been a nearly perfect year for Hugh and Achsah O'Donovan.

Perfectly, a homebred mare owned by the O'Donovans, closed out the year with her weanling daughter by Malibu Moon topping Fasig-Tipton's December mixed sale, which concluded Dec. 8. The price of $150,000 was a sales record for a weanling filly. The purchaser, Castleton Group, operates Castleton Lyons farm in Lexington, Ky., where Malibu Moon resides.

Sadly, Hugh O'Donovan was not able to realize the full impact Perfectly had this year, falling ill the week before his filly sold. Mr. O'Donovan died on Friday at the age of 87 without learning about his sales star.

Achsah O'Donovan will keep Perfectly and plans to breed her to Maryland stallion Rock Slide, a full brother to Mineshaft set to stand his first season at stud at Shamrock Farms under the management of Maryland Stallion Station.

Perfectly's accomplishments in 2003 were the highlight of the O'Donovans' more than 40 years of breeding Thoroughbreds. An unraced daughter of Parfaitement, Perfectly earlier this year had her first stakes winner, the 2-year-old Perfect Moon, who won the Best Pal Stakes and Hollywood Juvenile Championship Stakes, and was third in both the Del Mar Futurity and Norfolk Stakes, all graded races.

The efforts of Perfect Moon also had an impact on Maryland's stallion ranks. Perfect Moon drove his first-year sire Malibu Moon high up the nation's leading freshman sires list, prompting Malibu Moon's move to Kentucky. A son of A.P. Indy, Malibu Moon launched his career at the Pons family's Country Life Farm in Bel Air, Md.

Weather Vane, the Maryland-bred champion older female of 1998, sold for $38,000 at the December mixed sale, the 10th highest price of the sale, to R. Larry Johnson. A 9-year-old daughter of Willard Scott, Weather Vane was not bred for 2004. Her oldest foal, current 3-year-old Lovely Breeze (by Not for Love), is a multiple winner and her filly by Smoke Glacken has placed at 2. Weather Vane won 17 races and earned $724,532 during her career.

Disco Rico, Maryland-bred champion 3-year-old in 2000 and the state's champion sprinter the following year, was represented by his first offspring to sell at auction. His weanling daughter out of unraced Music Music Music, sold by Mr. and Mrs. S.H. Rogers Jr.'s White Oaks, was purchased for $15,000 by Rich Meadow Farm. Disco Rico stands at Murmur Farm in Darlington, Md., for $4,000 as the property of Alfred and Joseph DiRico.

Maryland's leading first-year sire by gross sales was Jazz Club, with three weanlings selling for $16,200. Jazz Club, one of five stallions managed by Maryland Stallion Station, stands at Shamrock Farms in Woodbine for $3,500.

Leading statebred earners in 2003

Perfect Moon, whom the O'Donovans sold at the 2002 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic yearling sale for $4,700, finished third in $1 million Delta Jackpot Stakes on Dec. 5, pushing his earnings to $353,870, enough to rank second among Maryland-bred money-winners this year.

Topping the list at $459,860 is New York Hero. A son of Maryland sire Partner's Hero, New York Hero earned a large portion of his total in the Grade 2, $500,000 Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park in March.

Carnivalay pensioned

Country Life Farm has officially retired its eldest stallion, Carnivalay, from stud duty. The 22-year-old Carnivalay, who remains in great health, covered 22 mares in 2003, but failed to get any in foal.

"He was our first good stallion," said Josh Pons, Country Life's farm manager. "Carnivalay was an instant success and consistently produced good horses. He is a good family friend and we will take care of him for the rest of his life."

Carnivalay, a near carbon copy of his legendary sire, Northern Dancer, stood 17 seasons, siring 599 foals and the earners of more than $25 million. Top earner of his 34 stakes winners was Ameri Valay, who won nine stakes, including back-to-back runnings of the Grade 3 John B. Campbell Handicap, and earned $742,779. Ameri Valay is the sire of Magic Weisner, runner-up in the 2002 Preakness and who has earnings of $888,110.