Tag Archives: laurie berglie

A tour of Maryland’s Sagamore Farm

by Laurie Berglie.

Laurie Berglie is a frequent contributor to Retired Racehorse and also writes at her blog, The Sassy Grey.

Laurie Berglie was lucky enough to visit Sagamore Farm, a historic Thoroughbred property in Maryland. As a Maryland-bred myself, I’m pretty jealous of her. And after seeing these pictures of the beautiful farm, doubly so.

On April 28th, I was granted the privilege of touring Kevin Plank’s Sagamore Farm.  It was Friends and Family of Under Armour Day at Sagamore, so I scored admission through a friend of friend.

Sagamore Farm's training track

Maryland hills frame Sagamore's training track and barn. Photo: L. Berglie

You may know Kevin Plank as the founder and CEO of Under Armour, an athletic apparel company, but in 2007, he purchased Maryland’s historic Sagamore Farm with the hopes of rebuilding both the farm and Maryland’s racing future.  And he is well on his way to doing just that.

Here’s a little history lesson for you.  Sagamore, located in beautiful Glyndon, Maryland, was founded by Margaret Emerson Vanderbilt in 1925.  In 1933, she gave the farm to her son, Alfred Vanderbilt II, for his 21st birthday.  Alfred had a way with horses and pretty soon he was running a successful breeding and training operation which produced the great Native Dancer.  Native Dancer, aka “the Grey Ghost,” won 21 of his 22 races, including the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

Sagamore Farm's Training Barn

The training barn at Sagamore. Photo: L. Berglie

When Vanderbilt sold the farm in 1986, it quickly fell into disrepair.  Enter Maryland native Kevin Plank.  Plank has already restored much of the farm in just five short years and has produced some champion racehorses including 2010’s $2 million Grade I Breeder’s Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner, Shared Account.  Plank has a long-term plan to continue refurbishing the farm, (next on the list is to give the indoor track a face-lift), and does not doubt for a second that Sagamore will produce a Triple Crown winner at some point.

After a breakfast of doughnuts and coffee, I watched a handful of horses take to the track for their morning work-outs.  My favorite was a grey filly, whose name I didn’t catch, who breezed by us at lightning speed.  I also enjoyed What’s the Record, a dark bay, 4 year old gelding, who couldn’t wait to get down to business.

The guided tour began at the indoor training track; then we were led over to “Native Dancer’s Barn.”  Interesting fact about Native Dancer – he loved children and small animals (especially puppies), but wasn’t a big fan of grown-ups!  (And really – who doesn’t love puppies!?).

Native Dancer with puppies

The Grey Ghost and his puppy friends. Photo: L. Berglie

We peered inside of the training barn just as Tiger Walk, potential Preakness contender, crossed our path.  We were led to “the graveyard” where 12 of Vanderbilt’s champions had been laid to rest.  Most racehorses are not buried whole with just their heads, hearts, and hooves placed in the ground – but not these 12.  According to our guide, their bodies lay intact, covered by their stable blanket, with a bag of their favorite treat (apples, carrots, peppermints, etc.) alongside.

Sagamore Farm's Under Armour racetrack

The very unique Tapeta surface, including remnants of Under Armour clothing! Photo: L. Berglie

Sagamore Farm training track sign

The sign says it all: history and technology working together! Photo: L. Berglie

Finally we made our way back to the track.  “In 2009, the ¾ mile training track…was rebuilt with a synthetic Tapeta track that incorporates pieces of recycled Under Armour performance material.”  Very cool!!

Sagamore is hoping for another great year out on the track.  Look for Monzon, Tiger Walk, Humble and Hungry, and filly, Millonreasonswhy, to be making headlines!

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OTTB Stories: Remembering Misty’s First Show

Rider Laurie Berglie writes about horses at her blog, The Sassy Grey, and is also the Baltimore Horse Examiner for Examiner.com. She last wrote at Retired Racehorse about her OTTB mare, Misty Mystique, in The Diva That is Misty Mystique.

 

Although I’ve ridden for most of my life, I wasn’t very active in the show ring.  I entered my first show with my Mustang pony at age 12 and subsequently competed about once a year in local hunter shows or 4H until age 17.  At the time, we didn’t have a horse trailer, so coordinating hauling efforts were difficult.  However, during those 6 or 7 shows, I amassed a small wall of ribbons and some low-level competition experience.

Then came college… and marriage… and graduate school… and then Misty Mystique.  I was 25 when Misty, a feisty mare fresh off the track, entered my life.  At the time, I didn’t know much about the ways of the OTTB, but I read like a maniac and asked questions to anyone who would help.  Before I knew it, Misty was going nicely and I tentatively wrote the date of our first show on the calendar.

This was fall of 2010, which meant 11 years had passed since I had set a foot or hoof in the show ring.  But I loaded up my Misty and off we went.

Gray Thoroughbred mare

No nerves here! photo: L. Berglie

The show I had chosen to enter was pretty low key, but there was still a substantial amount of commotion, noise, and general hustle and bustle.  As soon as Misty heard the announcer over the loud speakers, she went into full racehorse mode.  My friend was walking her around and Misty leaned her head into Kelsey’s arm, curved her neck, and did that sideways jig that racehorses will do alongside their lead ponies.

However, after only 10 minutes of semi-confusion and snorting, Misty completely relaxed.  As she watched the youth English riders hack around the ring, you could literally see the light bulb going off.  OH!  This is different!

With Misty fully tacked and me outfitted in my show attire, I was given a leg up and walked into the warm up ring.  Now, according to my friends and family in attendance, two things were glaring obvious at this point.  I looked like a ridiculous ball of nerves and Misty… didn’t.  She walked around with her head high, taking everything in, but she wasn’t silly or hot or out of control.  She definitely looked like the green horse she was, but we were totally fine as we completed our walk/trot class.

In the end, our class was pretty large so we didn’t place, but that didn’t matter.  The entire day had been a success, a genuinely good experience for both of us.  Kelsey commented later how impressed she had been because, “Misty really took care of you out there.”  And she had.  I had practically shook with nerves while my green OTTB had been as steady as a rock.  And that is worth all the blue ribbons in the world.

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