02/27/2004 12:00AM

Top horse honors go to Shine Again

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Shine Again, a million-dollar earning mare bred by Mrs. Richard C. duPont, tops the list of 2003 Maryland-bred champions announced Friday by the Maryland Horse Breeders Association.

Shine Again (by Wild Again-Shiner, by Two Punch), the fourth generation of her family foaled and raised at duPont's Woodstock Farm in Chesapeake City, was named horse of the year, champion older female, and champion sprinter.

Other divisional champions are:

* Two-year-old male: Perfect Moon (Malibu Moon-Perfectly, by Parfaitement). Bred by Mr. and Mrs. Hugh O'Donovan; owned by Royce Jaime Racing Stable; trained by Doug O'Neill.

* Two-year-old filly: Richetta (Polish Numbers-Riscay, by Rahy). Bred by Elk Manor Farm; owned by Higgins and Bowman; trained by Robin Graham.

* Three-year-old male: New York Hero (Partner's Hero-Nin Two, by John Alden). Bred by Dark Hollow Farm and William Beatson; owned by Paraneck Stable; trained by Jennifer Pedersen.

* Three-year-old filly: Finally Here (Yarrow Brae-Neolithic, by Deputed Testamony). Bred by James Courtney; owned by Pop-A-Top LLC; trained by Tom Amoss.

* Older male and turf runner: Dr. Brendler (Distant View-Lady of Vision-Ire, by Vision). Bred and owned by Francis O'Toole; trained by Graham Motion.

* Steeplechaser: Lord Kenneth (Lord Avie-Raw Sugar, by Judger). Bred by James Steele Jr.; owned by Kinross Farm; trained by Neil Morris.

Voting for the flat racing champions was conducted by a panel of eight racing writers; the steeplechase champion was chosen by writer Joe Clancy.

Shine Again highlights the remarkable accomplishments of duPont, 90, who has produced top-quality race horses in Maryland for more than a half-century. Two of duPont's earlier homebreds have also earned the Maryland-bred horse of the year title: Politely (1967 and '68) and Best of Luck (1999).

Shine Again, a Grade 1 winner at 4 and 5, passed the million-dollar mark in earnings last year, in her first start as a 6-year-old. She went on to win the Grade 2 Genuine Risk Handicap at Belmont, then added five consecutive second-place finishes, all in top stakes company in New York, at distances between six and seven furlongs.

It was the third consecutive season that Shine Again, trained throughout her career by Allen Jerkens, has been named Maryland's champion older female and second straight season she was named champion sprinter.

One of four Maryland-bred mares to have earned over $1 million, Shine Again retired last fall as the ninth leading Maryland-bred money-earner of all time, with $1,271,840. She has been bred to Deputy Minister.

The 2003 Maryland-bred champions left a lasting impact on the state's sire ranks, as three of them represented their sire's first crop.

Perfect Moon, sold by his breeders for a bargain $4,700 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern Fall Yearling sale, sent his sire, Malibu Moon, on a new career path in Kentucky with his two juvenile graded stakes wins in California. Malibu Moon entered stud at Country Life Farm in Bel Air, Md., and is now standing at Castleton Lyons Farm near Lexington, Ky.

Three-year-old champions New York Hero and Finally Here are breakout performers for Maryland sires Partner's Hero and Yarrow Brae, respectively.

Partner's Hero (by Danzig), a Grade 2-winning half-brother to 1989 sprint champion Safely Kept, stands at Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City.

Yarrow Brae (by Deputy Minister) holds court at Murmur Farm in Darlington, the establishment made famous as the one-time home of Kentucky Derby/Preakness winner War Emblem's sire Our Emblem.

New York Hero, winner of the Grade 2 Lane's End Stakes, ranked as Maryland's top earner in 2003, with $465,860. Completing the top five were Perfect Moon ($353,870), Shine Again ($275,620), Dr. Brendler ($259,935), and Foufa's Warrior ($257,358).