Columbia, Md., a planned community conceived, designed and developed by James W. Rouse in the 1960s, occupies land that belonged to another man with a dream.
Walter Edgar’s passion, equally shared by his wife Margaret, was to build a Thoroughbred breeding operation with an emphasis on quality.
The Edgars bought nicely bred yearling fillies from renowned nurseries and retired them to the farm after racing. They campaigned a few homebreds and sold a few. And through those efforts, the Edgars created a family which ultimately produced champions and Grade 1 winners including 2020 Belmont Stakes-G1 and Travers Stakes-G1 winner Tiz the Law.
Known to his friends as Jack, Edgar was a young businessman who made his living in the shipbuilding and repair business in Baltimore, which was especially lucrative and busy during World War II. He retired in 1950 at age 42 as secretary/treasurer of the General Ship Repair Company after working for the company for nearly 20 years.
In the early 1940s Edgar turned his attention to horses and purchased 360 acres of pasture and timberland near the historic Maryland town of Ellicott City. He named his vision Woodlawn Farm, and it became home to a small band of mares.
“My father was born and raised in Baltimore, growing up in a rowhouse,” his son Richard “Dick” Edgar, 83, said in August. “I don’t know how he got interested in horses and why he bought a farm. But he bought it, built paddocks, had the barns and a stable.” And hired former Prospect Hill Farm manager Fred Ellis to oversee it.
“My father was a very bright man and hard working,” added Dick Edgar. “And soon he became a recognized expert in bloodlines.” By 1951 Edgar was unanimously elected president of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association.
“Members were socially prominent as well as being interested in racing and breeding. [Alfred] Vanderbilt, Stuart Janney, Janon Fisher – those people elected my father president.”
Edgar supported local stallions such as *Challenger II and Discovery, both elite broodmare sires. In his research he also found the top-class stayer *Princequillo, who stood his first two years in Virginia at the Hancock family’s Ellerslie before moving to Claiborne Farm in Kentucky in 1947.
Walter Edgar was just beginning to see the fruits of his labors when he died after a long battle with leukemia at 47 in September 1955. His best runner had been the 2-year-old Prince Dare, born in 1950 at Woodlawn out of the first horse he ever bred, a daughter of *Challenger II named Penny Dare. Edgar paid $500 to breed his winning filly, then 4, to *Princequillo. Prince Dare was five months old when his dam died from colic.
Winner of Bowie’s lucrative Maryland Gold Cup at 2 under the tutelage of trainer Frank “Downey” Bonsal, Prince Dare was a classic hopeful who drew praise at the close of the year. “Prince Dare holds greater potentialities than any Maryland-bred to show on the local horizon in many years,” wrote Bill Boniface, racing editor for the Baltimore Sun. “He has progressed gradually throughout the fall season and needs only a little more improvement to move up among the very best juveniles.” The 2-year-olds of 1952 were led by Native Dancer.
Sent to Florida, Prince Dare finished third in the Bahamas Stakes at Hialeah and January and exited with an injury. He never regained his earlier form. Prince Dare became the first stallion to stand at Woodlawn, covering mares while out of training at the start of his 4-year-old season. The two foals he sired in his first crop were weanlings at the time of Edgar’s death – one became stakes winner Milady Dares. Also born that year at Woodlawn was the *Endeavour II filly Jacoenda.
Edgar purchased Jacoenda’s dam Jaconora as a yearling at Saratoga for $3,300. Bred in Virginia by Blue Ridge Farm, the daughter of *Jacopo and the *Mahmoud mare Minnora won twice at 2 and was retired; her first foal was Jacoenda. Prince Dare’s stakes-winning daughter Nora Dares (a foal of 1956) was her second.
Margaret Edgar continued at Woodlawn until her death in 1960. “My mother didn’t know how to run a horse farm,” said Dick, who was at college and then went into the Navy during those years. “Mr. Ellis stayed on. But my mother and Mr. Ellis didn’t get along at all. My mother didn’t even want to talk to him – she put a blackboard out at the far end of the house and he’d come up to read it and leave his messages. That was their only means of communication.”
The Edgars’ daughter Jean, then in her early 20s, and her husband C. Oliver Goldsmith stepped in to assist running the farm. “They expanded the operation,” said Dick. “They bought two other stallions – we’d have 100 mares at the farm. They built a huge barn that had an indoor training track and hired a wonderful farm manager, Sonny Sims. He’d stay up all night and foal the horses, after they were weaned he’d break them. They set up a turf course and he would train them and we’d van the horses to the racetrack to run.” Under the guidance of Oliver Goldsmith and the Edgar children, the farm remained home to Prince Dare and the broodmares until 1964, at which time the deal was made with Rouse and the broodmare band was divided between the siblings. Jean and Oliver had the most success after establishing their Longwood Farm in Glenwood, taking Prince Dare, by then syndicated, as well as Jacoenda and Sun Rondeau.
Jean immersed herself in the horses’ pedigrees, as well as art. On the property of Woodlawn was the 1815 stone main house (surrounded by an industrial park, it still exists and is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places), and numerous smaller structures, including a coachman’s house she turned into an art studio. For more than 30 years, she and her daughter Robin Evans made and painted jockey statuettes in the owners’ colors of that year’s Preakness runners that were presented at Pimlico’s Alibi Breakfast.
During the final years at Woodlawn, Jacoenda produced three Prince Dare foals. While her broodmare record was spotty – she only had four foals – they were all winners, topped by the 1964 Maryland-bred champion 2-year-old filly Jackie Dare.
The daughter of Prince Dare won the Maryland Futurity over colts. Jackie Dare raced twice for Woodlawn Farm in the spring at Pimlico, bucked shins, and was sold for $11,000 to J.T. Gibson and trainer Tuffy Hacker during her layup. She was on the board in six of seven starts that season.
Through the exploits of Jackie Dare and other Prince Dare offspring, Woodlawn Farm was Maryland’s leading breeder in 1964 by money earned in Maryland Fund stallion and breeder awards.
Jackie Dare raced 17 times at 3, didn’t start again and found her way to Kentucky, where in 1968 she produced her first foal, the winning colt Stereotyper, to the cover of Nashua for Leslie Combs II. Her next few foals were bred by Ocala Stud Farms in Florida before former Maryland breeder Rigan McKinney bought her for $15,000 in foal to Distinctive at the 1971 Keeneland fall mixed sale. The foal she was carrying, born in Kentucky the following April, was Distinctive Elaine.
The family tree blossomed. All six of Distinctive Elaine’s foals started, five won, including stakes winners Evil Elaine and Ravensmoor.
Jackie Dare’s granddaughter Evil Elaine produced Horse of the Year Favorite Trick and four other stakes horses, two of them fillies. Those daughters were graded stakes-placed Tricky Elaine, dam of millionaire sprinter Favorite Tale, and Crafty and Evil. The female line of Tiz the Law descends from Crafty and Evil (by Crafty Prospector), through her Go for Gin daughter Gin Running, the dam of three stakes winners including Tiz the Law’s graded stakes-winning dam Tizfiz (by Tiznow).
Edgar was eulogized upon his death as a “horseman, sportsman and gentleman” and “the finest thing in Maryland racing.”
All these years later, add a classic connection to his legacy.