On Sunday, a horse van was scheduled to pull into Northview Stallion Station in the northeast corner of Maryland and cart off the state's leading thoroughbred sire, Two Punch, to a new home in Kentucky.
But that was before an intense legal battle erupted between the stallion's owners and the Northview managers over custody of the horse.
A Cecil County circuit court judge granted the Northview partners an injunction that prevents the horse from leaving Maryland at least through Oct. 4.
Two Punch, an 11-year-old gray stallion, is a son of two champions. His sire, Mr. Prospector, is one of the most influential thoroughbred sires in the world, and his dam, Heavenly Cause, was North America's leading 2-year-old filly of 1980.
Two Punch was bred in Maryland by Eleanor Ross. She still owns half of the horse in partnership with Windfields Farm, which formerly owned the Northview property, but disbanded its world-renowned operation in Chesapeake City in Cecil County in 1988 after the retirement of its leading sire, Northern Dancer, and the death of Windfields' founder, Canadian billionaire E.P. Taylor.
At that time Two Punch had just completed his first season at stud. Now eight years later, he is a smashing success after having a tremendous 1994. A daughter, Calipha, won the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico. Ten days ago one of his sons, Taking Risks, scored a seven-length victory in the Grade I $250,000 Philip H. Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J.
In addition to having a wide lead over the rest of Maryland's stallion population, Two Punch, through Aug. 14 statistics compiled by Blood-Horse Magazine, ranked 19th in the nation, having sired 48 individual winners, including eight stakes winners, and the earners of $1,724,998. Those figures were calculated before Taking Risks' rich Iselin score.
Now Windfields, located in the Canadian province of Ontario, with a division of its operations in Lexington, Ky., and Ross want to move the horse to Kentucky.
But they did not count on the tenacity of Richard Golden, one of the four Northview partners, who is working to keep the horse in Maryland.
Golden and his partners -- Allaire duPont, Robert Levy and Tom Bowman -- originally acquired the vast Windfields property, broke it up into smaller farms, and resold them. They kept the Windfields stallion division and renamed it Northview.
The Northview partners kept three of the farm's original stallions, including Two Punch, and gradually have added to the roster, making Northview the No. 1 stallion center in the middle Atlantic region.
"Not only did we acquire the farm from them [Windfields] when no one else would buy it," Golden said, "now they want to take this stallion away from us after the breeders of Maryland have made him what he is today."
At issue in the controversy is a stallion management contract that Northview's attorney, Alan Foreman, said gives the Northview partners management control and the first right of refusal if a portion of the horse is sold.
Bill Nussbaum, a Washington lawyer representing Windfields and Ross, said Two Punch can be moved if he is going to be syndicated, which he said the current owners wish to do in Kentucky.
Foreman said Windfields is planning to sell some of its shares to Kentucky horseman Fred Seitz, but that Ross plans to keep her half of the horse.
"To me, that is not a syndicate," Foreman said. "It's only a three-party deal."
Ross could not be reached, and Ric Waldman, Windfields' vice president, would not comment except to say, "Whoever heard of owners of a horse not being able to do what they want to with their own animal?"
Foreman, however, said Windfields and Ross are ignoring their contract with Northview by passing over their right of first refusal if a portion of the horse is sold.
Nussbaum said he plans to file quickly, perhaps by next week, to have the injunction lifted.