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 Looking Back

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

A graded stakes winner at 2, Ryehill Farm homebred Awad made his first Grade 1 start in Arlington Park’s Secretariat Stakes at 3 and pulled off a shocking upset, paying $47.40 as the longest-priced runner in the 14-horse field.

The busy Maryland-bred son of Maryland sire Caveat was making his 13th start of the season at a ninth different track. His durability was evident – in just over a year he had raced 23 times. Four of his five wins were in stakes company.

 Over a two-month span, from late June through late August, five runners born and raised at Glade Valley Farms won stakes, led by graded winners Gala Spinaway, Green Darlin and Rhapsodic. 

The Frederick, Md., breeding farm was home to the broodmare band accumulated by Sondra and Howard Bender in less than a decade. Howard Bender’s father Jack had been an investor in Glade Valley more than 30 years earlier, but Howard and Sondra didn’t buy their first racehorses until after meeting Sam and Dorothy Rubin of John Henry fame in 1982. Four of the Glade Valley stakes winners were bred by the Benders: They campaigned Green Darlin, winner of the Delaware Handicap-G2; Maryland Moon, a two-time stakes winner over the summer; and Secret Odds, their Maryland-bred 2-year-old champion of the year before. “It’s such a kick when you win with a homebred,” said Sondra Bender.

The Benders sold Rhapsodic, winner of the Landaluce Stakes-G2 for 2-year-old fillies at Hollywood Park, at the Keeneland September Yearling sale to Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Moss for $90,000. 

Nancy Leonard, whose husband Dr. Robert Leonard was managing partner of Glade Valley, bred veteran runner Gala Spinaway. Longtime farm clients Gertrude and Skip Leviton campaigned the 5-year-old, who recorded his 10th stakes win in Pimlico’s Polynesian Handicap-G3. Upon the death of Gala Spinaway’s trainer Bernie Bond that spring, Graham Motion “inherited” the stakes winner. “I must have had a dozen calls on my answering machine when we got back from Bernie’s funeral,” said Skip Leviton. “Trainers were calling from all over, wanting to take our horses. But I decided to leave them with Graham. He had been Bernie’s assistant for the last several years – and he was hard-working and knowledgable. He sure has proven himself with the way he’s handled Spinaway.” 

 Nancy Leonard’s homebred stakes winner and leading sire Rollicking, who made his entire stud career at Glade Valley, was humanely destroyed at the age of 26 due to complications from colic. The son of Rambunctious had been pensioned since the spring of 1992. He was the sire of 37 stakes winners in his 17 crops of racing age (his youngest foals were yearlings in 1993), topped by Grade 1 winner Singing Susan. Another notable accomplishment was having four winners on the 1988 Maryland Million Day card, including Classic winner Mister S.M.

 The decision to move the date of the Fair Hill races one week after its usual Labor Day meeting proved a huge success. More than 8,000 spectators came out to bet on the six-race card, which saw Jonathan Sheppard saddle three winners, two for new owner Cortright Wetherill Jr., and a flat race win with champion Highland Bud. Blythe Miller guided Eskimo Cove, leased by Wetherill from Sheppard, to a win in the day’s biggest race, the Ralph Scharff Memorial. Other winners included Kinross Farm’s Skip to the Top in the maiden hurdle with Chuck Lawrence in the saddle.

 The Maryland Horse Eclipse Award-winning photographer Walter “Skip” Ball died after a long battle with cancer. He was 54. 

Ball had grown up on Edward Voss’ Atlanta Hall Farm, where his father Wassie Ball served for many years as trainer and farm superintendant. Skip, fascinated from an early age by television, was hired as a technician at WJZ-TV in Baltimore at age 20. Said news anchorman Al Sanders: “He was the life of every newscast, and he was everybody’s friend.” Among those friends who paid tribute at his memorial service was Oprah Winfrey. 

Ball’s first photo was published in the magazine in 1966, taken at a mule race at the old Bel Air racetrack. He served as the magazine’s photographic director until 1986. 

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