Looking Back

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

“The racing world is on the move and Maryland must move with it,” noted Don Reed in response to competition from New Jersey’s new tracks – Monmouth Park and Atlantic City. Adding in Garden State, New Jersey would have racing from June 1 through the end of October. Toss in Delaware Park and conflicts were inevitable. “The problem is not an easy one to solve, even if everyone connected with the turf in Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey was ready and willing to cooperate,” wrote Reed. “Since such a whole-hearted support to any plan hardly can be expected, the problem therefore becomes even more difficult of solution.”

  • Maryland Racing Commission chairman George P. Mahoney announced that effective Oct. 1, receiving barns must be used at all mile tracks in the state, despite horsemen’s objections. Horses were required to report to the barn two hours before post time to “prevent any tampering” or other interference.

  • Humphrey Finney spent most of the summer on the road, with trips from Kentucky to Boston, New Jersey to Virginia. Along the way he stopped at two revered farms.

    June 30. With Mr. and Mrs. Bruce S. Campbell I visited the Robert J. Waldens at Bowling Brook, in Carroll County (Md.), where Mr. Walden showed us three yearlings he is offering for private sale and the stallion War Hero, who looks as well as ever. It is depressing to look over a great place like Bowling Brook, that once was full of Thoroughbreds, and now has not 10 horses or three men, in place of 10 times the number of each. The great octagonal barn that Wyndham Walden built is almost empty, and the racetrack where once his son Robert J. Walden broke over 90 yearlings in a single season, is grown up with weeds. Thirty acres of hay has been cut and left lie in the fields for the lack of harvesters.

    July 9. (On a trip through New Jersey) drove to the old Rancocas Farm, now Helis Farms, where we visited the owner (William Helis) and his farm manager, Elmo Shropshire, and had a look at some of the 100-odd mares and numerous stallions. . .

    There was not time to see all the stock, but it is obvious that, slowly but surely, the old glory of the Rancocas of Lorillard, Sinclair and Hildreth is being revived. We saw Rancocas 25 years ago, when it hummed with activity and every barn was full. We saw it in the late 30s, when Grey Lag, Zev and a pair of Clydesdales were sole tenants of its 300-odd stalls, and now we have seen it again. It is as it should be now again.

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