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 Looking Back

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

• Snowden Carter visited with Ella K. Bryson, widow of G. Ray Bryson, who was once described as “probably the greatest horse trader ever to settle in Maryland.”
Mrs. Bryson was still breeding horses at her Elray Farm, but on a far smaller scale than when her husband was alive, when there were as many as 400 horses. “He had four farms right in this area,” said farm manager Charlie Timanus. “And he had them loaded with horses. Then he had horses in Kentucky and Virginia. Besides the horses on the farm, he had three trainers going with three separate stables.”


The Brysons settled in Maryland in 1936, and Mr. Bryson soon acquired the site of the Harford County fair. “It was there that he built Bel Air race track, and it remained under his ownership and control until his death in 1958,” wrote Carter.
• The first horse purchased by 38-year-old automobile dealer David L. Brooks, a 3-year-old filly named Miss Ceramic, won less than a month later. Brooks and his wife Kit had visited the offices of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association for months poring over reference books, and made their purchase at Saratoga, with their trainer Louis Pascal at their side. The couple planned to breed horses at their Hillstead Farm in Lutherville, Md.
Less than a decade later, Brooks was involved in one of the greatest syndications in history, purchasing a share of 2-year-old champion Secretariat.
• “Alfred G. Vanderbilt’s Restless Native is commencing to develop into a 3-year-old of considerable class. Unraced at 2. . . (he) seems ready now to enter stakes competition following two straight victories at Saratoga,” came the report on Native Dancer’s son.
His racing career lasted one month, and after losing his third start, Restless Native retired to Sagamore Farm to stand alongside his sire. His stud fee his first year was $500. In his first full crop of 16 foals, all started and won.

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