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 Looking Back

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

A presentation at the American Horse Council Convention on “selling the industry” by George Michael, a well-known sportscaster in Washington, D.C., and host of the syndicated George Michael’s Sports Machine, prompted editor Tim Capps to look at marketing in the horse industry, and the multiple failed attempts, including advertising and promotions.

“Getting the attention of the prospective fan, or buyer, however, is only part one of the marketing mix,” wrote Capps. “Good packaging and the ability to deliver a quality product are next in line, and the latter is the ultimate determinant of success. . .

“Whether it is a racetrack or a riding academy, the facilities and the products that would be presented to consumers in the 1990s would differ from their 1950s predecessors only by age.”

His conclusion? “The challenge before us, as George Michael put it, is to understand that the first time buyer, whether a spectator or horse owner, is our most important customer. They must be presented with something that is understandable, something whose quality they can perceive and trust. That is marketing.”

  • Northern Raja, a son of Raja Baba who stood his entire career at Worthington Farms in Glyndon, Md., was a hot commodity at age 18 as he was becoming known as one of the nation’s premier sires of show hunters. The stallion’s book more than tripled in 1996 after several of his sons and daughters – some of whom started out as failures on the racetrack – won championships at major shows and were sold or offered for sale at prices usually obtained by expensive summer sales yearlings.

  • Charlie Peoples, private trainer for Delaware-based breeder/owner Bayard Sharp for 52 years, announced his retirement. Among the many stakes winners developed by Peoples for Sharp were Maryland-bred champions Dixieland Band and Northrop.

  • “If there were a Maryland-bred claimer of the year title, the winner for 1996 would likely be the 5-year-old mare Gail’s Brush, who has captured four stakes in a row, including [Monmouth’s] Grade 3 Eatontown Handicap, and earned $162,600 since owner/trainer Edwin Broome haltered her for $40,000 [that February at Gulfstream Park].” The daughter of Broad Brush hadn’t been off the board in eight starts that season, and for her career had 11 wins from 39 starts and $250,701 in earnings.

    The streak was the finale of Gail’s Brush’s racing career after she fractured a sesamoid a month after her fourth stakes win and was retired. She was sold that fall at the Keeneland November sale for $150,000, and two of her first three foals were stakes horses, led by multiple graded stakes winner Aud, an earner of $485,623.

  • Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin selected as champion of the MHBA annual yearling show a filly by leading Maryland sire Caveat bred and owned by Richard Granville. Produced by the Northern Jove mare Northern Sting, the gray/roan filly was a full-sister to stakes winners Icy Warning and Ops Smile.

    Named Northern Flair, she would place twice in stakes and produced stakes winner Learning as her first foal. Her dam, Northern Sting, was named Maryland Broodmare of the Year in 1995 and 1997, the second time for the accomplishments of Ops Smile in winning the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap and Testing (by Deputed Testamony) winning the Congressional Handicap and placing in three stakes.

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