Tag Archives: maryland horse racing

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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