03/27/2008 11:00PM

Top sire, broodmare, and breeder of 2007 are named

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The Maryland Horse Breeders Association announced this week the state's 2007 breeder, stallion, and broodmare of the year. The results showcased:

* The continued strength of the operation of Eastern Shore residents Tom and Chris Bowman.

* The dominance of Northview Stallion Station's leading sire Not for Love.

* A producer who is every breeder's dream, Frank and Virginia Wright's homebred Blue Sky Princess.

Renowned equine veterinarian Tom Bowman, his wife, Chris, and their family maintain a large and successful breeding operation at Dance Forth Farm in Chestertown and Roland Farm in Chesapeake City, Md. This is the couple's third consecutive breeder of the year award, and their fourth overall. They were first honored in 1998.

Primarily breeding for the commercial market, the Bowmans have brought numerous partners into the business, and last year runners bred in Maryland by the Bowmans, solely or in partnership, earned in excess of $2.6 million, more than double the earnings of Robert Meyerhoff's Fitzhugh Farm, which ranked second.

The Bowmans were represented by five stakes winners in 2007, topped by Eclipse Award-winning steeplechaser Good Night Shirt, who was also the leading earner of all Bowman-bred runners. A winner of three Grade 1 steeplechase races last year, Good Night Shirt earned $314,163.

Other stakes winners bred by the Bowmans last year were Smart and Fancy, Raise the Bluff (bred in partnership with their daughter, Becky Davis), Grand Champion (with partner Dr. Jason Layfield), and Heart Throbbin' (with partner Richard Small).

Setting new standards is not unusual for Not for Love, the 18-year-old son of Mr. Prospector who has made his career at Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City. And another mark has fallen, as he becomes the most honored stallion since the Maryland breeders initiated the stallion of the year award in 1986. This is his fifth title.

Not for Love had his best year in 2007. The first stallion in Maryland history to surpass $5 million in earnings in a single season (in 2004), Not for Love had $5.7 million in progeny earnings last year, more than $2 million more than runner-up Outflanker. Not for Love also led all Maryland sires by number of stakes winners (11), number of winners (100), and juvenile runners by earnings ($626,779). His top earner of 2007 was his graded-stakes-winning daughter Talkin About Love, who amassed $375,875 with 5 wins from 7 starts.

The Wrights' Huntingfields Farm in Hampstead, Md., bred the talented filly Blue Sky Princess and campaigned her in the mid-1990s to 11 first- or second-place finishes in 15 starts, for earnings of $253,015. Seven of her on-the-board finishes came in stakes races, with victories in the Anne Arundel, Caesar's Wish, and Twixt Stakes, and graded placings in the Grade 2 Cotillion Handicap and Grade 3 Martha Washington Stakes.

Blue Sky Princess, a foal of 1992 by Horse of the Year Conquistador Cielo out of the Nijinsky II mare Richly Rewarded, immediately rewarded her breeders as a broodmare by producing stakes winner Inner Harbour as her first foal in 1997. A $339,056-earner who hit the board in seven stakes while campaigning for the Wrights, Inner Harbour (by Capote) now stands at stud in West Virginia.

In 2007, Blue Sky Princess got her second stakes winner when her talented 3-year-old daughter Tessa Blue burst on the scene. Tessa Blue (by Awesome Again) won 4 of 10 starts last season, earning $452,800. She was a dominant winner of the Gradeo3 Indiana Oaks and Monmouth Park's Inside Information Breeders' Cup Stakes on Breeders' Cup Friday, winning by an average margin of nearly 10 lengths.

The Maryland breeders will present the three awards, as well as those for divisional champions, on April 18 at its annual awards dinner, to be held this year at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore.

Six-figure statebreds at OBS sale

Six Maryland-bred 2-year-olds sold through the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's March sale of selected 2-year-olds in training on March 18-19. All brought prices of $150,000 or more, topped by a $500,000 Dixie Union filly bred by David and JoAnn Hayden's Dark Hollow Farm in partnership with Alice and Larry Wolf's Fast Kitty Farm, Arnold Davidov and Mr. and Mrs. David Schwaber.

The first foal out of the 7-year-old A.P. Indy mare Open Flirt, whom the Haydens purchased for $230,000 at the 2005 Keeneland November sale, the Dixie Union filly brought the seventh-highest price in the sale overall, and sold from the consignment of Niall Brennan Stables, agent. Kentucky bloodstock agent Mike Ryan purchased her on behalf of Bill Warren, who owned 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam.

The six Maryland-breds sold averaged $266,667, well above the sale's record average of $143,262.