Attempts by federal lawmakers to amend existing income tax laws in a manner which would threaten the existence of the horse breeding industry brought about the creation of a national organization of horse breeders. Named the American Horse Council, the organization was created after a meeting of more than 60 horsemen from 18 states who met in Miami, Fla., that January. All light breeds of horses were to be represented by AHC, with items such as a complete horse census, medical research as it applies to horses and encouragement of horse production high on the agenda. Noted editor Snowden Carter: “This could be the most progressive step taken by American horse breeders since founding the stud book.”
Maryland-bred champion Barbs Delight, a stakes winner in each of his four seasons on the track, second in one of the fastest runnings of the Kentucky Derby (1967), and a lover of burgundy (he’d drink it out of the bottle) was one of the harder horses in the country to handicap. “He’ll half-length you to death,” said Maryland racing secretary and handicapper Larry Abbundi, meaning that Barbs Delight would win by only what he had to. One of the fastest horses in the country – he ran a mile at Arlington Park in 1:332⁄5 when winning the Assault Handicap – Barbs Delight was being pointed by trainer Hal Steele for another attempt at Bowie’s John B. Campbell Handicap. He finished second to In Reality in 1968.
Barbs Delight was bred by Donald Motch and foaled at Bruce Livie’s Bobanet Farm. Motch tragically died later that year, and the colt was sold at Keeneland as a weanling. Owner Guy Huguelet Jr. purchased the bay son of Bagdad and Flora Macdonald (by Alquest) as a yearling for $5,000.
Carrying co-top weight of 122 pounds in the 1969 Campbell, Barbs Delight finished second again, 11⁄4 lengths behind fellow Maryland-bred Juvenile John, in with 113. He retired after that season with 15 wins from 39 starts, 14 placings, and earnings of $266,567. Retired to stud, he is perhaps best known as the broodmare sire of millionaire Sefa’s Beauty.
For the first time in the brief history of Atlantic City’s Matchmaker Stakes, Maryland would be represented by a stallion standing in the state. The syndicate-owned Nearctic, standing at Allaire duPont’s Woodstock Farm, was one of three stallions offered to the owners of the top three finishers of the race. The others were champions *Sea-Bird and Dr. Fager.
Securing the breeding rights in the third running were King Ranch’s winning Gallant Bloom, that season’s champion 3-year-old and top handicap filly or mare, the previous year’s national champion, Gamely, and six-time stakes winner Singing Rain. The first two runnings of the race were won by duPont’s Politely, and duPont chose breeding rights to Hail to Reason and *Ribot. The stallion seasons could be used for any of the owners’ mares – none of the top three finishers in 1969 were bred to their prizes.
Edgar M. Lucas’ 3-year-old Maryland-bred filly Irish Course remained a perfect 3-for-3 with a victory in Bowie’s Patricia A. Stakes. But the daughter of Irish Lancer was more famously known for an incident caught by track photographer Jerry Frutkoff at Laurel Park one morning, when she decided to sit down in the starting gate. The award-winning photo appeared on the back cover of Life magazine.
Joe B. Hickey Jr., Pimlico’s public relations director and a regular contributor to The Maryland Horse, was hired by E.P. Taylor and Allaire duPont in Chesapeake City, for an office position in Taylor’s Stallion Division complex at Windfields Farm. Hickey stated that his first love with horses had always been the breeding end of the industry, and that was the principal factor in his decision to leave the track. Kelso Sturgeon was to take over as publicity director at Pimlico, a position the 29-year-old held at Laurel since the previous fall.
Pennsylvania’s recent legalization of Thoroughbred racing was driving the state’s breeding industry and had an impact on Maryland’s annual mid-winter sale in Timonium. New breeder Mark R. Herr, owner of Valhalla Stables in Birchrunville, Pa., purchased the sales topper, Hero’s Daughter, for $45,000. By *Gallant Man out of a Hyperion mare, she was in foal to *Turn-to. The average of $3,809 for 83 sold was more than double the previous high, $1,690, set the year before.