Declan's Moon Named Top Maryland-bred of 2004

Edited MHBA release
Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old male Declan's Moon was recently named 2004 Maryland-bred Horse of the Year in an annual poll conducted by the Maryland Horse Breeders Association.

Bred by Brice Ridgely at his Spring Meadow Farm near Cooksville, Md., Declan's Moon campaigned for the Jay Em Ess Stable of Mace and Samantha Siegel, who purchased him for $125,000 at the 2003 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale. Ridgely consigned the colt to the sale with Bill Reightler as agent. Winner of his class, over 22 rivals, at the Maryland Horse Breeders Association yearling show judged by trainer Barclay Tagg, Declan's Moon is from the second crop of Malibu Moon , who stood at the Pons family's Country Life Farm in Bel Air, Md., before moving to Castleton Lyons in Kentucky for the 2004 breeding season.

Declan's Moon, trained by Ron Ellis, was undefeated in four starts last season in California. Unveiled in a maiden special weight at Del Mar July 31, he returned to earn a 107 Beyer figure while capturing the Sept. 8 Del Mar Futurity (gr. II) over Roman Ruler. Declan's Moon was ridden out to a two-length score in the Hollywood Prevue Stakes (gr. III) Nov. 20 at Hollywood Park. Then, vanquishing any doubts about his ability, the Maryland-bred gamely triumphed in the grade I Hollywood Futurity Dec. 18 at Hollywood Park, forcing Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner Wilko to settle for third.

Declan's Moon and Wilko were co-highweighted at 126 pounds in the colts and geldings division of the Experimental Free Handicap. Declan's Moon is the first Maryland-bred to win the Eclipse Award as the nation's champion 2-year-old since Devil's Bag in 1983. The Siegels, California-based owners who have been major purchasers at Maryland auctions the past two decades, campaigned two 2004 Maryland-bred champions, the other being 3-year-old male Love of Money.

Along with horse of the year honors, Declan's Moon was named champion Maryland-bred 2-year-old male (by unanimous vote).

Additional 2004 Maryland-bred champions

Champion 2-year-old filly (by unanimous vote): Hear Us Roar (Lion Hearted -- Grand Slalom, by Broad Brush). Bred and owned by Rosalee C. Davison; trained by Francis P. Campitelli.

Champion 3-year-old male: Love of Money (Not For Love -- Mescalina, by Smarten). Bred by Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Bowman, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Sutton, and Milton Hilton Higgins III; owned by Jay Em Ess Stable; trained by Richard Dutrow Jr.

Champion 3-year-old female: He Loves Me (Not For Love -- Palliser Bay, by Frosty the Snowman). Bred and owned by Buckingham Farm; trained by Richard Small.

Champion older male and sprinter (sprinter by unanimous vote): Our New Recruit (Alphabet Soup -- Delta Danielle, by Lord Avie). Bred by Thomas A. Graul; owned by CRK Stable (Susan Mattie Searing); trained by John W. Sadler.

Champion older female: Angela's Love (Not for Love -- Goldgorian's Alden, by John Alden). Bred by Dr. George E. Harmening, Kimberly Harmening, and William Campbell; owned by Bill and Vicki Poston; trained by Dale Romans.

Champion turf horse (by unanimous vote): Slew Valley (Valley Crossing -- Slewway, by Slewpy). Bred by W. James Hindman; owned by Rich Meadow Farm and Alan Burkhard; trained by Reade Baker.

Champion steeplechaser;Preemptive Strike (Roanoke -- Mirkwood, by Far North). Bred by Klobia S. Carroll; owned by Polaris Stable; trained by Paul Rowland.

Six of the eight 2004 Maryland-bred champions were sired by stallions who stood in Maryland at the time of conception. Leading Mid-Atlantic sire Not For Love, who stands at Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City, Md., is represented by three champions; Love of Money, He Loves Me, and Angela's Love. Northview's Lion Hearted sired Hear Us Roar in his first crop. Malibu Moon  and Valley Crossing, sires of Declan's Moon and Slew Valley, respectively, have since moved out of state. Valley Crossing, Maryland-bred Horse of they Year of 1993, died in Iowa in 2004.

A committee of eight Maryland racing writers selected all champions except the steeplechaser, who was named by Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred steeplechase writer Joe Clancy Jr.