Looking Back

This month in mid-atlantic thoroughbred history! For Looking Back archives click here.

10 Years Ago: October 2009

• Rachel Alexandra easily captured the $1.25 million Haskell Invitational-G1 at Monmouth Park to the delight of her adoring fans. The Medaglia d’Oro filly completed the 11⁄8 miles in 1:47.21 over a sloppy track, one-fifth of a second off the stakes record set by Majestic Light in 1976 and equaled by Bet Twice in 1987. Belmont Stakes-G1 winner Summer Bird finished second, 6 lengths behind the Preakness Stakes-G1 winner.
• Ronnie and Betsy Houghton’s thriving commercial breeding and training center at their Sylmar Farm in Christiana, Pa., was a farm that “churned out mostly solid, blue-collar runners” wrote Lucy Acton. “Unlike many breeders, the Houghtons don’t mind losing homebreds through the claim box. In fact, it’s been a remarkably successful marketing tool.”
The Houghtons led the list of Pennsylvania Breeding Fund recipients twice in the past five years. Their total in 2008, reflecting Pennsylvania’s slot-fueled purses and breeders’ funds, was $259,464. In 2004, pre-slots, they topped out with $129,192. Helping boost those numbers was Whistle Pig, claimed away from the Houghtons in May 2007 for $10,000. The son of Patton had recently won the Leematt Stakes (the seventh stakes win of his career) and 13th win overall.
• Listed at 99-1 for the sake of space on the toteboard, Two Notch Road was actually 107-1 in the $60,000 Continental Mile Stakes for 2-year-olds on the turf at Monmouth Park. A Virginia-bred son of Partner’s Hero out of Capiano, Two Notch Road went on to win by 11⁄4 lengths for co-owner/trainer Glenn Thompson in his first grass attempt. In previous three starts he could finish no better than sixth.
Two Notch Road is still racing at 12 for breeder James Hackman and co-owner/trainer Thompson. He’s a winner of five stakes and is multiple graded stakes-placed in 46 starts (through Sept. 7), with career earnings of $536,193.
• Sagamore Farm, undergoing a revival by its new owner, Under Armour founder Kevin Plank, returned to the ranks of graded stakes-winning owners when 3-year-old filly Shared Account captured the Lake Placid Stakes-G2 at Saratoga. The Kentucky-bred daughter of Pleasantly Perfect was purchased by Plank for $170,000 at the 2007 Keeneland September Yearling sale.
• Former Maryland Horse Breeders Association general manager Mary Thomas died at age 76. Thomas had contributed immeasurably to the MHBA and to The Maryland Horse for 24 years until retiring in 1989 and was remembered by editor Lucy Acton. “Mary set the standards that the MHBA still attempts to follow – 20 years after she retired from her job with this organization. If we have a sense of pride over the Maryland Horse Breeders Association and all it stands for, that’s the spirit of Mary Thomas echoing through the hallways.”
• The Mid-Atlantic region lost two well-known old-timers: Virginia-bred Grade 1-winning multimillionaire Majesty’s Prince (30) and Pennsylvania-bred timber star Welter Weight (21).
Majesty’s Prince was the first Virginia-bred to reach the $2-million mark in earnings, and career highlights included back-to-back wins in Belmont Park’s Man o’ War Stakes-G1. The son of His Majesty stood at stud farms in Kentucky, New York and Virginia before returning to live out his life at his birthplace, Hazel Marsh’s Thoroughbred Farm, near Berryville, Va.
Welter Weight, a son of Fit to Fight trained throughout his glory years by Tom Voss, won the 1999 Maryland Hunt Cup and was second four times, and captured four runnings of the Grand National. He retired at 13 to a second career as a foxhunter, and lived out his life at Poppet Pitt’s Hitchcock Plains Farm in Monkton.

25 Years Ago: October 1994

• A glimpse of the busy life of Maryland horsewoman Christine Clagett, daughter of the late Fendall Clagett (longtime president of the local chapter of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association) and niece of Hal Clagett (former Maryland Horse Breeders Association president), included her career as a trainer, the operation of Larking Hill Farm in Harwood (established by her father 50 years earlier), and her career as an amateur race rider. Competing with the Amateur Riders Club of America, of which she was champion in 1993, propelled her efforts to bring change to Fegentri’s rules for amateur racing across the world.
• El Gran Senor’s daughter Corrazona, one of the most expensive Maryland-bred weanlings ever sold at auction when bringing $550,000 at Keeneland November in 1990, captured the Beverly Hills Handicap-G1 at Hollywood Park. A winner of half of her dozen starts while racing in the U.S. and France, the filly increased her earnings to $451,019.
Taking Risks took a different route to becoming a Grade 1 winner. A former claimer bred in Maryland by Liberty Hill Farm and owned by Lakeville Stables, the King T. Leatherbury-trained son of Two Punch captured the Iselin Handicap-G1 at Monmouth by 73⁄4 lengths over fellow Maryland-bred Valley Crossing. Initially sold as a yearling for $16,000, Taking Risks boosted his earnings to $458,545.
• Salutely, one of Maryland’s leading sires, was euthanized due to liver cancer. The 16-year-old stakes-winning son of Hoist the Flag out of two-time Maryland-bred Horse of the year Politely was bred by Mrs. Richard C. duPont and raced in Ireland and the U.S. His stud career took him to a number of farms in the region, starting at Sagamore Farm in Maryland, Blue Ridge Farm in Upperville, Va., Maryland’s Bonita Farm, and finally at Green Willow Farms in Westminster. In his first nine crops of racing age he had sired 16 stakes horses, led by graded stakes winner Mz. Zill Bear.
The career of one of Salutely’s best runners was just getting started. Virginia-bred Saluter, trained by Jack Fisher for Ann Stern, won the Virginia Gold Cup six consecutive years, from 1994 through 1999, and was National Steeplechase Association timber champion four years (1994, 1995, 1998 and 1999).
• Country Life Farm stallion Citidancer had his first winner from his first crop when his daughter Talk of the Citi scored at Hastings Park in British Columbia, Canada, in early August. His second winner followed three weeks later, when Hal C.B. Clagett’s homebred Citirainbow scored in her debut at Timonium.
• Northview Stallion Station’s Two Punch was Maryland’s leading sire through early September, among his eight 1994 stakes winners Grade 1 winner Taking Risks. The 11-year-old son of Mr. Prospector out of champion Heavenly Cause had nearly $2 million in progeny earnings, with four months to go.

50 Years Ago: October 1969

New for 1969: A television camera ringside recorded the Fasig-Tipton sale to give a record of bidding and ring activity to help end disputes.

• Kathy Kusner rode Pre-Ordained to victory in a race at Pocono Downs (Sept. 7, 1969) in Pennsylvania, achieving a goal the Olympic medalist had been pursuing for years. The second mount of the 29-year-old rider’s career, Pre-Ordained was trained by William G. Christmas and owned by his wife Louise. Kusner broke the ban on women jockeys when awarded the first license the previous October by the Maryland Racing Commission, but her race riding was put on hold after taking a bad spill at a horse show a few weeks later.
In the interim, Diane Crump became the first woman to ride in a pari-mutuel race in the U.S., Feb. 7, 1969, and Barbara Jo Rubin became the first female rider to win a race against men at a nationally recognized racetrack at Charles Town, Feb. 22, 1969.
• Stuart S. Janney’s five-time stakes winner Promise, one of the nation’s best sprinters and recent winner of the Carter Handicap under top weight, was to stand his first season at Glade Valley Farm. Earlier in the year he won Arlington Park’s Equipoise Mile by daylight, as well as Garden State’s Cherry Hill Handicap. Foaled at the Janneys’ Locust Hill Farm in Glyndon, Md., the son of the *Nasrullah stallion The Irishman was out of Vowed, by Dedicate; his fourth dam was *La Troienne. His book would be limited to 25 mares.
Also set to enter stud the next season in Maryland was the stakes-placed Bold Ruler son Bold Ambition, going to Fendall Clagett’s Larking Hill Farm. He was out of the *Ambiorix mare Be Ambitious, a half-sister to Kentucky Oaks winner Lalun, dam of Never Bend.
Promise only sired 12 foals, of which eight won, and was eventually gelded. Bold Ambition had a better, and longer, stud career and sired five stakes winners, but is more notably known as the broodmare sire of millionaire Little Bold John.
• More than 100 Virginia-owned horses were scheduled to be sold at a one-night auction that October held by Fasig-Tipton Company in Timonium. Fasig-Tipton president John M.S. Finney remarked that the quality of horses was the best offered in Maryland since the dispersal of the late William duPont’s holdings in 1966.
Consignors included Hickory Tree Farm, Newstead Farm, Rokeby Stable and Foxcatcher Farms. The bulk of the auction would be broodmares, but weanlings, yearlings and horses of racing age were also offered.
• On hand during the Eastern Fall Yearling Sale at Timonium was Dr. Robert Lawrence from the University of Maryland. He was about to take on a survey project on Maryland’s racing and breeding industry, at the instigation of the Maryland Racing Commission.
• Ellis Shindledecker accepted the first mount of his career at Hagerstown at age 46. Coached by veteran rider Fred Kratz, he was believed to be the oldest man to make his debut as a jockey.

75 Years Ago: October 1944

Guy Bedwell trained four winners on opening day of the 1944 Laurel fall meet.

• Walter A. Edgar was the latest recruit to the ranks of Maryland breeders after purchasing some 500 acres of “good rolling land” in Howard Country, near Ellicott City, which he named Woodlawn Farm.
“At present the establishment is small, and it is intended that its growth shall be slow and careful,” the magazine reported.
• Savage, Md., horseman H. Guy Bedwell scored with the first four horses he saddled on opening day of the Laurel Park fall meet, setting “something of a record.” In addition, he sent out Sollure to pick up third money in the Capital Handicap.
• Adolphe Pons announced that Joseph M. Roebling’s Lochinvar would make his first season at stud at Country Life Farm in Bel Air, Md. The first winner from the first crop of his speedy sire Case Ace, Lochinvar also displayed great speed, but could run a distance. Out of the Display mare Quivira, Lochinvar won the Kent Handicap, set a track record at Belmont Park when winning the Merchant and Citizen’s Handicap, and was classic-placed when third in the Belmont Stakes.

25 Years Ago: September 1994

• Elizabeth Moran’s Pennsylvania-based Brushwood Stable ranked among leading consignors at select yearling auctions, exemplified when her three Keeneland July yearlings offered all sold, averaging $286,667, more than $50,000 above the sale’s average. Moran’s intuition with horses proved formidable, with Brushwood owning and racing the likes of classic-winning multimillionaire Creme Fraiche and Demoiselle Stakes-G1 winner I’m Sweets, while simultaneously improving the quality of her top-notch broodmare band. “It’s always been my plan to have quality rather than quantity,” said Moran. “I have some real quality broodmares, and I breed them to the best, and hope for the best. I’m ready now to breed some serious stakes winners.”
• Unaccounted For, a 3-year-old Pennsylvania-bred son of Private Account trained by Scotty Schulhofer, broke through with his first stakes win in Saratoga’s Grade 2 Jim Dandy, forcing Preakness/Belmont Stakes winner Tabasco Cat to settle for second. Unaccounted For was bred through a foal-sharing arrangement by Marshall Jenney’s Derry Meeting Farm and Moran’s Brushwood Stable.

• Praises were sung to Gelo Hall, placing judge at Pimlico and Laurel, as he was awarded the Dogwood Dominion Award for his positive influence throughout his 53-year career. Cot Campbell, president of Dogwood Stable, said, “Criterion for the award is that the person selected be the candidate who has the strongest positive influence on the racing industry. Gelo Hall wrote the book.”
• Ron Cartwright was featured in the 1994 Maryland Million Souvenir Guide, as focus turned to the trainer who the year before became the second in Maryland Million history to have saddled three winners in one day (Forry Cow How-Classic, Mz. Zill Bear-Ladies and Gayquare-Handicap). Reminded that his 30-horse stable led Maryland with 10 stakes victories in 1993, the former jump rider cleared his throat and mumbled: “Well, yes, we did do rather well.”
• New Jersey-bred Friendly Lover recorded his second consecutive victory in the Finger Lakes Budweiser Breeders’ Cup Handicap-G3, setting a 6-furlong mark of 1:08.80 in the latest, and followed with a score in Belmont’s True North Handicap-G2, which marked the 44th start of his career and 16th win. A former claimer, the 6-year-old son of Cutlass pushed his earnings to $660,159.

10 Years Ago: September 2009

• “Colonial Farms: Three Generations and Counting,” told the story of the Fieramoscas and their family farm in Colts Neck, N.J. Purchased in 1950, the 100-acre farm was transformed from a family riding place into one of the leading Thoroughbred breeding facilities in the state. Colonial Farms had been home to such stalwarts as 11-time leading sire *Slady Castle and his leading sire son, New Jersey-bred Horse of the Year Castle Guard. Current patriarch Sam Fieramosca, the 78-year-old son of the farm’s founder John, noted: “From 1952 on it has been all racing and breeding. And it’s been wonderful.”

• Patricia Generazio’s 6-year-old veteran Presious Passion left everyone breathless as he captured Monmouth Park’s United Nations-G1 for the second year in a row. Leading by as many as 20 lengths, the Florida-bred chestnut finished the 13⁄8 miles in 2:10.97 and shattered English Channel’s course mark by nearly two seconds. The gelding earned a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf-G1 with the win, and trainer Mary Hartmann said they intended to make the trip to Santa Anita.
Presious Passion had the best year of his career in 2009, adding the Clement L. Hirsch Memorial Turf Championship Stakes-G1 before electrifying the Breeders’ Cup crowd, soaring through sizzling fractions in the Turf and hanging tough to finish second. His earnings for the year were $1,524,275 in nine starts.
• Black Tie Affair (Ire), the only Eclipse Award-winning Horse of the Year to stand at stud in the Mid-Atlantic region, was retired from his breeding duties. At 23 years old, the stallion had been on the roster at Randy Funkhouser’s O’Sullivan Farms in Charles Town since 2005. He was headed to Old Friends retirement farm in Georgetown, Ky., to live as a pensioner. Having previously stood in Kentucky, Japan and Virginia, he was the sire of 35 stakes winners to date.
• David and JoAnn Hayden’s Dark Hollow Farm of Upperco, Md., took top awards at the 75th annual Maryland Horse Breeders Association Yearling Show as judge Baden P. “Buzz” Chase selected its class-winning colt and filly, the show’s only two yearlings by former Maryland stallion Malibu Moon, as champion and reserve champion, respectively. This was the second time in the show’s history that the same owner received both trophies, with Fendall Clagett accomplishing the feat in 1972.
• King T. Leatherbury’s homebred Ah Day achieved his 10th career stakes victory in Colonial Downs’ Chesapeake Stakes. Owned by The Jim Stable, Ah Day got up in the final strides to defeat fellow Maryland-bred Celtic Innis by three-quarters of a length in a rapid 6-furlong time of 1:09.46. The Maryland-bred champion 3-year-old male of 2006, the son of Malibu Moon out of the Thirty Eight Paces mare Endette started the season off with a win in the Toboggan Stakes-G3 at Aqueduct.
The Chesapeake was Ah Day’s final stakes win, followed by 14 more starts before finishing out his career in December 2012. He earned $921,574 with a record of 44-14-8-5.
• Edward P. Evans’s Cat Moves, one of 63 foals born in 2006 at the breeder’s Spring Hill Farm in Casanova, Va., romped in the Prioress Stakes-G1, getting the 6 furlongs in 1:08.65, a second off the track record. The daughter of Tale of the Cat was a fourth-generation Evans homebred descending from the sensational family of Lunar Dancer. Making her first stakes appearance, she remained undefeated in three starts.

50 Years Ago: September 1969

• Peter Winants sat down with Janon Fisher Jr. and was told the fascinating and entertaining story of top-class steeplechaser Curator, White House curator Billy Elder and an increasingly expensive fireplace mantel. The story began in 1958 with Fisher swapping a Swashbuckler filly he bred named Ghost Dance, who failed to win on the flat, to Elder for the antique mantel Elder salvaged from an old Baltimore home about to be razed.
Elder hunted the mare and noted “she was the classiest animal” he had ever owned. When Elder was hired by Jacqueline Kennedy as Curator of the White House, he gave the mare to his father, William Elder Sr. The senior Elder didn’t want to hunt her, and after discussing it with Fisher, it was decided to breed the 8-year-old mare to nearby Assemblyman. The resulting colt, Ghost Dance’s first foal, was named Curator “after Billy, of course.”
Curator won two steeplechase stakes in course-record time at Belmont Park in 1969 and placed in six more to be named that year’s Maryland-bred champion steeplechaser. He retired with earnings of $76,889.

• Hopkins brothers Miles and Frank moved their families – Miles’ wife Fran and children Miles Jr. and Carol Frances, and Frank’s wife Martha and children Frank Jr., Mike, Boo and Amy – from Baltimore to the country and within four years set up a Thoroughbred breeding operation in Harford County. Frank joked when asked how that came about: “Beats me. We came out here to raise kids and a little hell from time to time. What did we end up with? Racehorses!”
The Hopkinses purchased the historic Winstone farm in Darlington. Frank, manager of the U.S. Department of Commerce Field Office in Baltimore, and Miles, director of purchasing and traffic with the Glidden-Durkee Division of SCM, plunged into learning about farm management and breeding and raising Thoroughbreds. Through an association with brothers Joe and John Pons, also Harford County residents, they purchased their first horses. “Right there,” said Frank, “we eliminated an obstacle many people face in starting a Thoroughbred operation – knowing what to buy and when to buy it.”
• Edward S. Voss died at his Atlanta Hall Farm in Monkton, Md., at age 86. He was entering his 31st year as Master of Fox Hounds for the Elkridge-Harford Hunt Club, the longest continuous mastership in the U.S. A frequent rider in steeplechase and point-to-point races, he rode his last race at age 64 at the Elkridge-Harford Point-to-Point at Atlanta Hall. He was also a noted artist, working with watercolors and oils and often painting Harford County hunting scenes.
• Maryland-bred Rollicking was voted the nation’s leading 2-year-old in July and August in the Thoroughbred Racing Association’s monthly poll. The son of Rambunctious was bred by Mrs. Robert Leonard at Glade Valley Farms near Frederick and leased to J.I.B. Farm.

75 Years Ago: September 1944

• Glengar, the long-famous Thoroughbred breeding farm of the late William Jennings, changed hands after 60-odd years of ownership by the Jennings family. The new owner was Walter J. Appel, a Baltimore lumber dealer, and breeder and exhibitor of show horses and hunters.
Jennings – “called ‘Maryland’ Jennings around the racecourses to distinguish him from Walter Jennings of California” – produced the likes of Preakness winner Dunboyne and top handicap horse Glenmore at the farm located about a mile from Pimlico.
• Editor Humphrey S. Finney returned to civilian duties after spending nearly two years with the U.S. Coast Guard’s Mounted Beach Patrol. A note in The Maryland Horse read: “With the sales of surplus government-owned horses about over, a detail to which the Editor has been assigned in an advisory capacity for the past eight months, and with the passing of the Mounted Patrol, his services will become surplus to the needs of the service.”
• The second annual sale of yearlings held by Fasig-Tipton Company at the Meadow Brook Polo Club on Long Island brought good results. The only consignment from Maryland was that of Lt. A.G. Vanderbilt’s Sagamore Farm, which had its best year with nine selling for an average of $2,578.
The Discovery—Bride Elect, by High Time yearling colt purchased for $2,000 by Leslie Combs II, agent, was the most distinguished of the group. Knockdown won four stakes, topped by the 1946 Santa Anita Derby, and earned $165,545.
• Sagamore Farm stallion Discovery was steadily improving on the national sires lists. One of his best runners of the year, the filly Traffic Court – a winner of three stakes and four other races – appeared on the cover of the magazine after her Beverly Handicap victory at Washington Park.


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