As of 1997, the American Horse Council Federation documented that the national horse industry was a $25.3 billion business, with Maryland’s horse industry boasting a $1.5 billion impact to the economy. At that time, around 82,900 Marylanders were involved in the industry as owners, service providers, employees and volunteers, with a total employment impact of 20,000. Additionally, there were 82,000 horses in Maryland, with more than 60-percent involved in showing and recreation.
- Maryland-bred Wicapi was named the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association’s 1996 claimer of the year. The Waquoit gelding out of the Lord Gaylord mare Muffies Muffin was claimed for $20,000 by Joseph Calascibetta in January 1996, as he climbed through the ranks to win five races at Calder, taking the Flying Pigeon and Thanksgiving Day Handicaps and finishing third in the Tropical Park Handicap-G3. He also set a track record of 2:05 for 1 1/4 miles while winning an allowance race in June.
Wicapi, bred by Mr. and Mrs. Charles McGinnes, made 67 starts over six seasons, retiring in 2000 with 18 wins and $671,616 earned.
Maryland joined three other states participating in the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship series, designed to eliminate conflicts in the regional racing schedule, thus providing more opportunities for horses to compete. MATCH consisted of 35 stakes worth a combined $3.5 million, organized into five divisions with seven races in each.
The MATCH Series went on to run for five years, through 2001, before a 16-year hiatus. The Series returned in 2018. Last year’s overall championship horse was Hillwood Stable’s Cordmaker, trained by Rodney Jenkins.
Latin Dancer sent shockwaves through the local Thoroughbred industry a year and a half prior, as his selling price of $210,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern Fall sale toppled all previous records for a yearling at Timonium.
Since then, the son of Maryland stallion Citidancer had become one of the top 3-year-old turf performers on the West Coast. In just 12 starts, he had amassed $147,218, with three wins, three seconds, and one third. Most notably, Santa Anita’s $100,000 Baldwin Stakes-G3 became his greatest achievement.
- Bill Reightler, then manager of Chanceland Farm, had excellent advice for individuals looking to present yearlings at the MHBA Yearling Show at Timonium. With eight Chanceland winners, two champions and two reserve champions leading into 1997, Reightler was a good person to follow. His tips included bathing, braiding, showing and after the show advice.