06/28/2007 11:00PM

Schaeffers breed grand champion on first try

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Peter and Ashley Schaeffer have become overnight celebrities in the horse-oriented community of Woodbine, Md.

"People stop us and say, 'Aren't you the ones who won the Maryland Horse Breeders Association Yearling Show?'" said Ashley Schaeffer. "We're shocked that this has happened to us."

Winning the grand championship at the 73rd annual MHBA show, judged by trainer Tom Albertrani last Sunday at Timonium Fairgrounds, brought an added measure of fame to the Schaeffers because they did it with the first horse they exhibited in the event.

Their colt, named Karsons Chance (Harbor Man-Duke's Chance, by Proudest Duke), was Albertrani's number one choice among the 79 Maryland-breds who participated in the show.

Named for the Schaeffers' 4-year-old son, the colt also happens to be the first Thoroughbred racing prospect bred by the Schaeffers.

The young couple - she's 26 and he's 30 - have maintained a thriving Quarter Horse showing operation for the past several years at a 30-acre farm in Woodbine owned by Ashley's parents, Dave and Sheila Ritter.

For the past two years, Ashley has also worked for sales agent Bill Reightler at local Thoroughbred auctions. She and Peter, who is a salesman for Elliott & Franz, a company that sells heavy machinery, have begun to shift their focus to Thoroughbred racing.

"We go to the races every chance we get," Ashley said.

The couple privately purchased the yearling show grand champion's dam for $2,500 from two of Reightler's friends and associates, Brice Ridgely and Jann Anderson, a month before Karsons Chance was born. They own the mare in partnership with Peter's father and stepmother, Bob and Sharon Schaeffer.

Duke's Chance, 15, had done little to distinguish herself before her son stole the show. She is the dam of only one other named foal, the 7-year-old Harbor Man daughter A Chance to Harbor, who was a modest winner.

Duke's Chance was not bred for 2007, but is now in foal to No Armistice.

Harbor Man (by Wild Again) stands at Little Hawk Farm in Crozier, Va., as the property of Anderson. A large horse, standing at least 17 hands, he has had considerable success as a sire of show hunters.

The Schaeffers plan to race Karsons Chance in a partnership arrangement that they are now forming. Ashley intends to handle the breaking herself ("He's a real puppy dog," she said), before turning him over to Anderson, who trains a string of runners at Laurel Park.

Although the grand championship went to newcomers, the reserve champion carried on a remarkable streak for one of Maryland's most established horsemen.

Cary Jackson, whose homebreds swept the grand championships at the 2005 and 2006 shows (judged by Ben Perkins Sr. and Tim Ritchey, respectively), took the reserve trophy this year with a half-brother to his 2005 winner.

Jackson's colt, by Domestic Dispute out of Lady Tiara (by Vice Regent), topped the larger of the two classes for Maryland-sired colts before taking second place in the championship round.

Lady Tiara's earlier star, Bianchi's Boy (by Cryptoclearance), was sold by Jackson for $135,000 at the 2005 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale and was runner-up in the 2006 Maryland Juvenile Championship Stakes.

The reserve champion was one of six show participants to represent the first crop of Domestic Dispute, a son of Unbridled's Song standing at Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City.

With four sons and daughters earning placings from the judge, Domestic Dispute took the Northview Stallion Station Challenge Trophy for the most successful stallion in the show. The stallion trophy was donated by Northview this year after its premier sire Not for Love retired the previous trophy in 2006.

Four other yearlings came away with blue ribbons in their individual classes. Two were by Maryland's leading freshman sire, Rock Slide, and one each by Lion Hearted and Malibu Moon.