12/17/2004 12:00AM

Northview shows off sires new and old


What a way to kick off a new stallion's career. On Dec. 12, Northview Stallion Station played host to more than 500 people who came out to see the Chesapeake City, Md., farm's newest arrivals. It was a perfect opportunity to get a first look at Domestic Dispute and Great Notion, as well as visit with established stallions who stand at the busiest farm in the Mid-Atlantic region.

"I don't think anything replaces the opportunity to see horses firsthand," said Dr. Tom Bowman, Northview's co-founding partner, a renowned equine veterinarian and leading Maryland breeder. "Mare owners need to know what a stallion looks like."

Northview has held a stallion show for five of the past six years, an affair complete with a luxurious brunch served under the protection of a large tent. After brunch, Bowman handles the introductions of the stallions and provides a refreshingly candid assessment of each horse.

"When you're hoping to deal with people for many years, you have to tell them your honest opinion," said Bowman. "I'm a consumer as well as a provider, and I want to know the pluses and minuses of a horse. It's not a matter of picking out great traits or finding the flaws of a horse, but instead trying to find the best stallion for the mare."

When Northview settled into the former Windfields Farm stallion division in 1991, the operation had seven stallions and was already well-established, having secured a number of veterans from Windfields - such as Caveat and Smarten - and brought in well-known runners including Private Terms. Two stallions from the original group, both soon to turn 22 years old, will stand at Northview in 2005: the extremely popular Two Punch, whose spectacular career enters its 19th season, and multimillionaire Waquoit, standing his 16th year.

During the 1990's, Northview introduced such up-and-comers as Polish Numbers, who entered stud in 1992, became the state's leading sire by 1998, and died at the young age of 15 in 2002.

Not for Love entered stud in 1996, and Bowman admitted to stallion-show attendees that he wasn't completely sold on the bay son of Mr. Prospector when he first came to Northview. But Not for Love has made believers out of everyone. Maryland's leading sire in 2003 and the top non-Kentucky stallion in the national rankings, Not for Love has had an even better year in 2004. Currently 15th on the nation's leading sires lists by earnings, he has surpassed the $5 million mark, the first Maryland stallion in history to do so. Not for Love and Two Punch each stand for $25,000, but Bowman noted that Not for Love's book is full, and has been so since early October. He will be bred to about 100 mares in 2005; he covered 102 in 2004.

The most recent Northview stallion to hit the national scene is 8-year-old Lion Hearted, Maryland's leading freshman sire of 2004. Lion Hearted, a dark bay son of Storm Cat, has seen his popularity soar, and was the busiest stallion in Maryland in 2004, breeding 127 mares. Bowman also announced that Lion Hearted's book is full, and he is expected to cover a comparable number of mares as last season.

Northview's two newest additions, Domestic Dispute and Great Notion, are intriguing. "They are almost polar opposites of each other," said Bowman.

Domestic Dispute, an elegant chestnut who stands 16-1 hands, is the leading earner ($413,428) in 2004 for his sire, Unbridled's Song. A Grade 1-placed juvenile, Domestic Dispute won the Grade 2 Santa Catalina Stakes in January of his 3-year-old season and was third in the Grade 2 Lexington Stakes, both at 1 1/16 miles. This season, at 4, he captured the Grade 2 Strub Stakes at 1 1/8 miles and placed in two additional graded races. Domestic Dispute retired with earnings of $703,115 from 21 starts.

Out of the stakes-placed Majestical Moment (by Magesterial), Domestic Dispute descends from the same female line as the immortal Native Dancer (Domestic Dispute's fifth dam, Mysterious East, is a full sister to Native Dancer).

Response to Domestic Dispute was immediate last Sunday, with a number of seasons being sold to the syndicated stallion, who stands for $5,000.

Great Notion is not as big or flashy as Domestic Dispute, but according to Bowman, "he could be a sleeper stallion." Great Notion was a talented sprinter, winning or placing in seven races - including five stakes - out of his 12 starts, with all but one of those successes at a mile or less. A son of leading sire Elusive Quality, Great Notion took the Southwest Stakes by nine lengths over Alke, but perhaps more impressively ran a spectacular race when caught at the wire by Valid Video in the Grade 1 King's Bishop Stakes. He stands his first season for $3,500.