01/15/2008 12:00AM

Owner-breeder Appleton dies at 92

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Arthur Appleton, the Thoroughbred owner and breeder whose Bridlewood Farm in Florida has been a major producer of stakes winners, died of natural causes Tuesday morning at his farm, according to Bridlewood officials. He was 92.

Appleton bred nearly 100 stakes winners under his own name and that of Bridlewood, a 950-acre farm outside of Ocala that he started in 1977. Among the best horses he bred were Forbidden Apple, a Grade 1 winner who finished second in the 2001 Breeders' Cup Mile, and the millionaire stakes winners David Junior, Jolie's Halo, Super Nakayama, and Southern Image.

Born in Chicago, Appleton was the son of a leading electronics manufacturer and he was named the chief executive and chairman of his family's Appleton Electrics in 1957 at the age of 32. Over the years, Appleton patented more than 150 different types of electrical systems and switch boxes. The company was sold to Emerson Electric in 1982.

While living in Chicago, Appleton's father, Edgar, introduced him to racing with visits to Arlington Park. The family also had a home in south Florida, and the Appleton family at one time owned interests in both Gulfstream Park and Hialeah Park, although those shares were later sold. Hialeah has since closed.

Appleton bought his first racehorses beginning in the 1960s, and after campaigning several stakes winners in the 1970s, he purchased a 500-acre tract of land near Ocala that would become Bridlewood Farm. Today, the property stands 16 stallions and serves as one of the largest full-service Thoroughbred operations in Florida, with stallion, broodmare, yearling, and training divisions.

In 1991, Appleton was named the Florida breeder of the year, and in 2002 Forbidden Apple was named the Florida-bred horse of the year. That same year, Forbidden Apple's dam, North of Eden, was named Florida broodmare of the year. Forbidden Apple was North of Eden's third Grade 1 winner.

Horses bred by Bridlewood have won more than $50 million in purses, according to the farm.