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 Looking Back

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

Maryland’s stallion roster increased by 23 for the 1971 breeding season, bringing the number standing in the state to 205.

The most expensive new arrivals at $3,500 live foal were stakes sires National (by Nashua), standing at Woodstock Farm, and former Virginia stallion Tambourine (by *Princequillo), at Helmore Farm. The latter won the Irish Sweeps Derby in course record time.

  • Notable first-year stallions were Dancing Count (to Windfields) and What Luck (Polinger Farm), while Wise Exchange moved from Florida to Stymie Manor Farm to stand his second season.

    Maryland’s top stallion by progeny earnings in 1970 was Northern Dancer, who replaced his sire, Nearctic, for the title. Northern Dancer’s earnings did not include European races, thus excluding his greatest runner, Nijinsky II.

    Neither of the top two stallions had Maryland-sired runners – Northern Dancer stood his first Maryland season in 1969 and Nearctic’s first Maryland crop turned 2 in 1971. 

  • Major Goss L. Stryker, who guided the Maryland Horse Breeders Association since its founding, “died suddenly” at age 93. “His incredible vitality and health permitted him to drive his own automobile up until the week before his death,” the magazine reported.

    Stryker was elected one of the original MHBA directors in 1929 and took over as MHBA’s secretary-treasurer in 1936. He had also been president of Laurel Race Course from 1940-45.

  • Harold Ferguson was back in as Sagamore Farm’s manager when Frank Bonsal resigned after three months to return to training a public stable. The parting was amicable as Alfred Vanderbilt gave a division of his Sagamore racing stable to Bonsal.

    Ferguson had taken an assistant general manager position at Ocala Stud Farm in Florida. “That weather in Florida was nice, but it’s certainly great to be back at my old desk and see all my old friends,” he said. Ferguson had worked for Sagamore since 1952 and had been the farm’s manager for 10 years.

  • Three-year-old colt Robin’s Bug was named Maryland-bred Horse of the Year. Bred by jockey LeRoy Moyers, who sold the son of Maryland stallion Martins Rullah as a yearling to Dr. Richard Kuhn and Walter Hickey, Robin’s Bug was ridden by Moyers throughout his career, which in 1970 included five stakes wins, among them the Prince George’s at Bowie, Survivor (Pimlico) and Michigan Derby (Hazel Park). He also started (but was off the board) in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

    The only unanimous champions for the 10-man committee of voters, all members of the Maryland Racing Writers Association, were 2-year-old filly Swinging Lizzie, bred by John A. Bell III’s Jonabell Farm and born at Sagamore Farm when her dam was shipped to the state to be bred to Nearctic, and Nathan Cohen’s Mister Diz as turf horse (he was also champion older horse, though not unanimous).

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