05/30/2002 11:00PM

Tacky Affair vaults from $2,700 buy-back to the Oaks

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The father-and-son team of Mike and Nick Nosowenko each have their own racing and breeding businesses, but they hope that a homebred filly that they race together, Tacky Affair, will be a force in the $500,000 Labatt Woodbine Oaks on Saturday.

"To have a horse run in a half a million dollar race, it's great," Nick Nosowenko said. "I mean, my Dad's been in this business for 27 years, so to get to this dance is something special."

Mike, who was born in the Ukraine, purchased his first horse, Brief Star, in partnership in 1976 - and that filly immediately produced dividends, when she foaled a stakes-placed filly, Brief Bikini.

As a teenager, Nick walked his father's horses at the track with trainer Bobby Fisher, and at 19 he became partners with his father in horse ownership.

One of their first homebreds was One for Bert, a daughter of Filiberto, who won the Maple Leaf and Tattling Handicaps in 1989. The mare didn't produce much in the breeding shed and after several colic surgeries was retired to the family's 10-acre farm in Bowmanville.

In recent years, Nick went out on his own, but one mare, Ascot Affair, who won six races and over $100,000 on the track, is still owned by the partnership.

"We lost her in a claiming race for $32,000," said Nick. "But one day [bloodstock agent] Dave Cotey came to me and told me she had broken down. I went to see her and she was lame in her stall so I bought her."

Ascot Affair, a daughter of Ascot Knight, was bred to War Deputy and that mating produced Cruel Dawn, who won four races and more than $195,000 before being claimed for $60,000.

The Nosowenko's selected the promising young sire Mutakkdim as Ascot Affair's next stallion and hoped to sell the resulting filly foal at auction. But the filly was turned down for the local select yearling sale.

"I entered her in the mixed sale and she didn't get any bids so I bought her back for $2,700," said Nick.

Named Tacky Affair, the filly that no one wanted will enter the prestigious Oaks with a longshot chance to upset favorites Gonetoofar and Ginger Gold.

The filly, trained by David Bell, has won two of six starts and was recently third in the Fury Stakes.

The Oaks will be Tacky Affair's first attempt at a route distance.

"Sometimes fillies respond well in their first try at a longer distance," said Nick. "I don't think she'll let us down and I don't think we know how good she is yet."

Ascot Affair has a 2-year-old filly by Roy named Tamara, a yearling filly by Bold Executive named Executive Affair, a 2002 filly by War Deputy, and is in foal to Whiskey Wisdom.

Breeders to be honored

The Year of the Horse is the theme of this year's Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society's annual awards dinner and silent auction on June 7 at the Rattlesnake Golf Club in Milton, Ont.

The awards ceremony honors the breeders of last year's stakes winners in Ontario as well as the breeder of the year and the winner of the Blood-Horse Mint Julep Award.

The 2001 breeder of the year is Frank DiGiulio Jr., who, in partnership with his late father Frank, bred Canadian Horse of the Year Win City.

Vicki Pappas, who has worked in various aspects of the local industry, including training, television, and yearling sales and is currently the stakes coordinator at Woodbine, will be presented with the Mint Julep Award for her contributions to the industry.

It is the third consecutive year that the C.T.H.S. will donate the proceeds of its silent auction to LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society.