Looking Back

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

50 years ago
• The favorite and previous year’s winner, Mountain Dew, ran a game race in the Maryland Hunt Cup, but couldn’t hold off blossoming star Jay Trump, who carried Crompton “Tommy” Smith to victory by 4 lengths. Racing over “ground as hard as concrete,” Mrs. Mary C. Stephenson’s 6-year-old Jay Trump, trained by H. Robertson Fenwick, shattered the course record, jumping ?22 fences and covering 4 miles in 8:42 1/5.

• With very little promotion, a late April tour of 14 Maryland farms drew an estimated 12,000 people from in and around Maryland.
Jointly sponsored by the Maryland Horse Breeders Association and Laurel race track, and held in conjunction with the Maryland Derby at Laurel, the tour far surpassed what was expected. Nearly half the visitors swarmed Alfred G. Vanderbilt’s Sagamore Farm. Farm manager Harold Ferguson anticipated a handful of visitors and eventually called police for assistance. “The traffic was so badly snarled, nobody could move. It took one of my friends 40 minutes to drive to St. John’s Church–about a mile away,” said Ferguson.
Betty Shea Miller at Merryland Farm thought she and her staff were ready: “We put 36 Cokes on ice, and 1,500 people showed up. We didn’t bother to take the Cokes out of the refrigerator.”
Allaire duPont entertained 500 at Woodstock Farm near Chesapeake City, with the star of the festivities being Kelso, who was led from his stall repeatedly during the afternoon. Pistorio Farm in Ellicott City and Glenangus Farm and Country Life Farm in Harford County each reported 2,000 guests.
“The crowd at Sagamore was nearly half as large as the paid attendance at Baltimore Stadium for the baseball game between the first-place Orioles and the Angels,” reported Joe Kelly of The Washington Star.
• A local historian was trying to determine if the indoor training track at Bowling Brook Farm in Middleburg, Md., was the first of its kind in the country.
Bowling Brook was founded in 1878 (when the training track was built) by R. Wyndham Walden, and at the time consisted of more than 1,000 acres. The trainer of seven winners of the Preakness, five consecutively, during the latter part of the 19th century, Walden was in charge of the powerful Morris and Lorillard stables. “He was undoubtedly the most celebrated trainer of his day, and certainly one of the most outstanding in history,” wrote Joe Hickey Jr.
Following Walden’s death in 1905, his son Robert continued to run Bowling Brook until he died in 1951. Trainer Henry Clark moved into the farm in 1958.
The farm was bustling, for in addition to the training division, nearly 40 mares were in residence and five stallions stood at the farm, including Sun Bahram and Nade.


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