07/28/2006 12:00AM

Sentimental win on other side of globe


A German-based 3-year-old colt winning a Group 2 race in France after selling in England may not appear to have any connection to Maryland. But the colt means the world to Douglas Brown and his family's Little Man Farm, a small breeding operation in Keymar, Md. The colt, Flashing Numbers, is the first horse Brown and his family ever sold.

Flashing Numbers, a Maryland-bred son of the late leading Maryland sire Polish Numbers, put in a stellar performance to defeat Epsom Derby runner-up Dragon Dancer in the Prix Eugene Adam at Maisons-Laffitte in France on July 23. The win came in Flashing Numbers's sixth start and was his first in a stakes. One start before the Prix Eugene Adam, Flashing Numbers finished second but was disqualified to third in the Prix Pelleas at Chantilly. He also finished second in last year's Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud.

Flashing Numbers is trained by Mario Hofer for Turf Syndikat.

The journey of Flashing Numbers began when Brown, a lifelong racing fan, chose to pursue his dreams and buy a Thoroughbred in 1999. A self-proclaimed "pedigree nut," Brown purchased his first broodmare out of the classifieds in The Blood-Horse magazine. The mare, Pass Me the Hearts, was 23 years old, by Buckpasser out of a daughter of Double Jay.

Brown sought the expertise of farm manager Jim Steele, at nearby Shamrock Farms, to get his new purchase in foal. Pass Me the Hearts produced a colt by Opening Verse in 2000. The Browns have since continued to foal their mares at Shamrock, where Flashing Numbers was born in March 2003.

In his search for another broodmare, Brown attended the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic December mixed sale in 2002 and bought the Irish-bred mare Tanwi for $6,500, with Flashing Numbers in utero.

"I feel I stole her," said Brown. "She was a Group 3 winner in foal to Polish Numbers."

A daughter of Vision, a Grade 1-winning son of Nijinsky II, Tanwi had captured the Group 3 Leopardstown Stakes in Ireland at 2 and was group-placed at 3. As a broodmare, Tanwi had been bred to such stallions as Riverman, Silver Hawk, Kris S., and Diesis. She produced a number of winners, but only one was a stakes winner, and that was in Czechoslovakia.

Brown made the decision early to sell Flashing Numbers and was dismayed when the colt's ear was bitten while he was turned out in a field as a foal.

"Jim [Steele] kept saying it wouldn't keep him from running," said Brown.

But in an effort to sell him, it seemed to Brown that it would be a distraction.

Before going to agent Bill Reightler for the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale, Flashing Numbers - who was named by Brown's daughter Emily - was shown in the Maryland Horse Breeders Association's annual yearling show. The only comment given by that year's judge, Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, was "funny ear."

Flashing Numbers was sold at the Eastern fall sale for $22,000, well below the $61,278 average for Polish Numbers yearlings that year.

"We had hoped for more, but were satisfied," said Brown.

Flashing Numbers's value as a sales horse soared when purchaser Kirkwood Stables took him to England for the Tattersalls April breeze-up sale for 2-year-olds. Manfred Hofer bid the U.S. equivalent of more than $115,000 for the colt.

In October 2005, Flashing Numbers won his maiden in his debut at San Siro in Italy by six lengths and followed that with his Group 1 placing in France. In his first two starts this past winter, Flashing Numbers raced in Dubai, finishing fourth in the Group 3 UAE 2000 Guineas at Nad Al Sheba on Feb. 10.

Brown, his wife, Kelly, his son William, and Emily have kept close tabs on Flashing Numbers, and there may even be a trip to see him in the future. But they no longer own Tanwi. In an effort to trim down Little Man Farm's growing herd, Brown elected to sell Tanwi when she failed to get in foal in 2004. She and her just-turned yearling colt, by Eastern Echo, were sold at the 2005 Keeneland January sale for a combined $4,200.

Little Man Farm owns one broodmare, Falcon's Eye (by Mutakddim), who produced a filly by Grindstone in 2005 and is in foal to Go for Gin.