Past, present, and future pillars of our region. For Legacies archives click here.

Dick Francis visits Maryland

51 years ago, mystery writer Dick Francis made what appears to be the first of many trips to Maryland, where in late winter he met Maryland reknowned timber trainers and jockeys and hunted with Green Spring Valley Hounds. Skip shared photo credits for the shoot with veteran photographer Peter Winants for Snowden Carter's story "Dick Francis visits Maryland," which appeared in Maryland Horse, March 1969.

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Queen's Guard makes first US appearance

The Queen's Guard made their first US appearance in September 1968 in Philadelphia, involving 47 horses and 160 men. Skip's photos were published in the October 1968 issue of Maryland Horse.

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Skip's treasure trove

Last fall, the children of Skip Ball donated many of his negatives and slides to the MHBA library. What a treasure trove! The black and white negs start in late 1968, through January of 1986. They graced the pages of Maryland Horse from the mid 60s, through the 70s and early 80s. His photos were originally credited to Walter M. Ball, but the credit line later changed to Skip Ball.

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A Verdant Land: Deep history of success carried Glade Valley for decades

For nearly 100 years Glade Valley Farms operated on fertile land in north central Maryland, just a few miles northeast of the town of Frederick. It ranked as one of Maryland’s most important nurseries, turning out champions, standing leading sires and producing bloodstock that can be found in the pedigrees of racing’s elite. 

In the fall of 2016, a year after the death of co-owner Howard M. Bender, the era of Glade Valley Farms as a Thoroughbred breeding farm officially came to an end. 

All that remains now is the history.

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Calumet’s Preakness Glory

The devil’s red and blue silks of Calumet Farm are as iconic as Yankee pinstripes or Notre Dame gold. In Preakness history, no other stable experienced the longevity or success of the Wright family’s juggernaut.

Warren Wright masterminded Calumet, backed by a fortune acquired by the success of the Calumet Baking Powder Company founded by his father William Wright.

The younger Wright immersed himself in the Thor­oughbred world in the early 1930s after inheriting his father’s Standardbred farm and stable. In less than five years, Calumet Farm runners were appearing in the classics. 

Wright’s first Preakness starter came in 1935 with homebred filly Nellie Flag, whose dam Nellie Morse won the Preakness in 1924. Wright purchased Nellie Morse with Nellie Flag in utero, and the filly became Calumet’s first champion as a juvenile. Sent off as one of the favorites in the Preakness (after running fourth a week earlier in the Kentucky Derby) she finished seventh behind eventual Triple Crown winner Omaha. That would be the worst finish of Calumet Farm’s 14 starters – who accounted for 11 top-three placements – from 1935 through 1978. 

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Speculate fueled lifelong passion of Bayard Sharp

In the 20th century, 63 runners bred in the Mid-Atlantic were named national champions. Mid-Atlantic Thor­oughbred takes a look at one of those luminaries.

Among Bayard Sharp’s priorities after he graduated from the University of Virginia in 1940 was to buy land to pursue a foxhunting passion. He chose a property, sight unseen, in Middletown, Del. He then looked for horses to populate it. One of his first purchases launched more than 60 years of racing, and later breeding, achievements.

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Go for Wand makes magic for Jane duPont Lunger

Jim Raferty-Turfotos

Go for Wand was the first Pennsylvania-bred to win a Breeders' Cup race (Juvenile Fillies in 1989). She won five consecutive Grade 1 races and seven Grade is overall from 13 starts for Delaware's Christiana Stables.

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