Monday, May 21, 2012

Alfred Vanderbilt's Sagamore Farm

What a weekend for horse racing, with a possible Triple Crown in the works!  While we are thinking horses, race horses, Maryland and Triple Crown, let's talk about the famous Sagamore Farm.  Maybe you've never heard of it. If you live in Maryland or if you know anything about the famous race horse, Native Dancer, well, then you've probably heard about it.  The farm is located near Baltimore. 

Alfred G. Vanderbilt II owned the famous farm which was built by his mother, Margaret Emerson Vanderbilt in 1925.  She gave the 530-acre farm to him for his 21st birthday in 1933.  According to Vandersbilt's son, he would sleep in the barns so he could learn everything he could about the business of horse racing.  It was his true love.  Vanderbilt would later become owner and President of Pimlico Racetrack and he served at various times head of the New York Racing Association and the U.S. Jockey Club.

In 1941, Vanderbilt teamed up with Walter P. Chrysler, Jr. and other investors to acquire for breeding services the 1935 English Triple Crown winner Bahram from the Aga Khan III.   Bahram stood at stud at Sagamore and then was sent to Chrysler's farm in Warrenton, VA.  Vanderbilt/Sagamore Farms' best known horses were Discovery, Bed O'Roses and Native Dancer.   Native Dancer, "The Grey Ghost" is buried on the farm, one of 12 horses to be honored at Sagamore.    

Native Dancer was foaled in 1950.  He won an astounding 21 of 22 starts, his only loss, to Dark Star in the Kentucky Derby. Not only was he a great race horse but he is likely one of the greatest sires of all time.  Since his son, Kauai King won the Derby in 1966, fifteen other Derby winners have carried his blood including Dancer's Image (disqualified in 1968), Majestic Prince (1969), Affirmed (1978), Genuine Risk (1980), Ferdinand (1986), Alysheba (1987), Unbridled (1990), Strike the Gold (1991), Thunder Gulch (1995), Grindstone (1996), Real Quiet (1998), Charismatic (1999) and Fusiachi Pegasus (2000).

In 1986, Vanderbilt sold the farm to developer James Ward. The farm had fallen into disrepair and needed millions of dollars for restoration costs.  In 2007, Kevin Plank, CEO of Baltimore-based athletic company Under Armour, bought the historic farm with plans to renovate it to his former glory.  The farm includes a 90-stall training barn and a quarter-mile track.  Indeed Mr. Plank is planning to put Sagamore back on the throne of horse racing.  In November 2010, Shared Account, a Sagamore entry, won the $2 million Breeders Cup Fillies and Mares race. Tiger Walk was entered in the 2012 Derby, another Sagamore entry. 

Plank is restoring the farm's 18 miles of white fencing.  Native Dancer's stall is still a relic to the great horse, left alone, in honor of the great gray stallion. The red and white colors of Sagamore are vibrant again!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I love this! I'm the owner of ND's Facebook. I will surely be reposting this! Wonderful(:Thanks!


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