01/18/2002 1:00AM

New post suits consensus-builder Flynn


Michael Flynn's big move to Maryland will not occur until early February, but already he is having to make a policy decision: namely, the wording on his business cards.

"All those titles," said Flynn, indicating that he would much prefer to classify himself as a consensus-builder. "Do I really need to list them all?"

For the record, Flynn will assume the duties of executive vice-president of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, executive director of Maryland Million, Ltd., and publisher/editor of the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred magazine. All of those functions are carried out at the offices of the MHBA, located in Timonium, Md.

Flynn, 58, comes to Maryland from the New York Thoroughbred Breeders, Inc., where he has served as executive director for the past five years. He replaces Tim Capps, who left on Jan. 1 for a new job as executive vice-president of the Maryland Jockey Club, corporate owner of Laurel and Pimlico.

Maryland is not unfamiliar turf to Flynn, who lived in the state during some of his most formative years, in the 1960's, when his late parents, Desmond and Mary Flynn, owned and operated The Curragh in Chesapeake City, a major Thoroughbred nursery. Mike Flynn, while in his early 20's, became a full partner in the operation of that farm. The family had moved to this country from Tipperary, Ireland, where Mike Flynn's grandfather was also a professional horseman.

In the 1970's, Flynn further developed his skills as a hands-on horseman at two premier establishments, serving as assistant manager of Hobeau Farm in Ocala, Fla., and general manager and on-farm trainer at John D. Marsh's farm in Virginia. He relocated to New York State in the late 1970's, and was a partner with future state senator Howard Nolan in developing Blue Sky Farm, Inc., in Goshen, N.Y. When that partnership was dissolved in 1992, Flynn established his own broodmare operation, Country Time Farm, which he sold in December 2001.

Flynn, who was a legislative aide in the New York State Senate from 1990 to 1994, played a major role in the coalition that lobbied for the introduction of video lottery terminals in New York State, which was approved last fall. He now intends to focus on promoting unity among the various elements of the industry in Maryland, he said. "Without good racing, the breeding industry is going nowhere," he said. "Racetrack owners, farm owners, and horsemen need each other, and we have to support one another on a business basis. The Standardbred industry figures into that, too. We have to figure out what is fair, and what the state needs, and speak with one voice legislatively."

If history is any indication, Flynn will make his mark in significant and not yet predictable, ways. The MHBA has had only four individuals to serve in a top leadership capacity since its founding in 1929, each making an indelible imprint.

"The MHBA has been extraordinarily fortunate with the executive leaders who have carried it forward over the years," said Mike Pons, the group's current president. "The legendary Humphrey Finney was the man who got it all started. Snowden Carter came along in the 1960's and helped to implement the Maryland Fund - the first statebred incentive program in the country - as well as developing The Maryland Horse magazine into a nationally recognized publication."

Beginning in 1986, said Pons, "Rich Wilcke spearheaded the Maryland Million and expanded the magazine into the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred. And since 1995, Tim Capps has done an excellent job of representing the Maryland horse industry on both the state and national levels."