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Horse Racing: The Big Beast, Maryland-bred Horse of the Year, a Westminster native

Jjockey Javier Castellano sits atop The Big Beast in the winner's circle after winning the Ketel One Kings Bishop Stakes horse race at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. (AP Photo /Hans Pennink)
Jjockey Javier Castellano sits atop The Big Beast in the winner's circle after winning the Ketel One Kings Bishop Stakes horse race at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. (AP Photo /Hans Pennink) (HANS PENNINK / AP)

The Big Beast has certainly lived up to his name, and his size.

The multiple Grade 1 stakes performer was named the Maryland-bred Horse of the Year on Feb. 25, as announced by the Maryland Horse Breeders Association. Owned by Alex and JoAnn Lieblong, he was foaled at Green Willow Farm in Westminster by Ron and Carolyn Green.

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According to Green, The Big Beast stands almost 6 feet tall.

A son of Yes It's True and Deputy Minister mare V V S Flawless, The Big Beast was also the 2014 Maryland-bred champion 3-year-old, and he's the only champion in the 2015 class to have earned a previous title.

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"You're always very proud when any horse you breed wins," Green said. "They're like your kids so you're proud when they do very well."

The Big Beast's first win as a 3-year-old came in the spring of 2014 at Belmont Park. He embarked on a four-race win streak that included a victory in the King's Bishop Stakes at Saratoga Race Course, according to The Blood Horse's website. This past summer, the colt placed second twice: by a nose in the Vanderbilt Handicap, and the Priority One Jets Forego, both at Saratoga.

He completed his career with a 4-3-1 record in nine starts and $676,300 in earnings, making him the richest Maryland-bred runner of 2015.

Prior to closing their doors to the breeding business four years ago, Green said his family bred horses commercially for 40-45 years. They owned about 20 mares, he said, and bred most of them at Keeneland in Kentucky to prepare for September sales, those of which Green said were popular for yearlings and would last about two weeks.

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Green Willow Farms purchased The Big Beast's dam at Keeneland and he was the last foal the Greens bred on their farm.

"As a 3-year-old champion last year, I figured with the races he had won that he would be nominated," Green said. "I was pleased that he was our last horse and the Maryland-bred champion."

Citing a lack in profit, Green sold his mares to a friend in Kentucky but said The Big Beast was a special horse and his success reminded him of how much he appreciates his career.

"They always say a horse leaves his pedigree in the starting gate," Green said. "You can have a horse with a nondescript stallion out of a lesser mare that can run with the blue bloods but they have to have that desire and natural athletic ability to be able to run."

The Big Beast is currently in his first season at Ocala Stud in Ocala, Florida, standing at $6,000. A press release from Ocala Stud's website announced on March 7 that The Big Beast and another stallion, I Spent It, both had their first respective mares confirmed in foal over the weekend.

Horse breeding is like a gamble and there isn't a guarantee that a breeder will get a good sales horse each year. American Pharoah's 2015 Triple Crown victory ended a tireless drought that had last been captured by Affirmed 37 years before.

Optimism for breeders could potentially increase with hopes that one of their next horses could be a Triple Crown contender one day.

"The Triple Crown gave people a boost and gave them something to root for," Green said. "You always hope for a Triple Crown horse but it's a tough hilltop to climb. You're running against the best in the world and when you come out like that, you've proven to everyone you're the best in the industry for that year."

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