Looking Back

This month in mid-atlantic thoroughbred history! For Looking Back archives click here.

Racing in Maryland returned to a degree of normalcy after track shutdowns during World War II. But racing writer Don Reed noted: “It would be ostrich-like, indeed, to say that racing resumes full scale in Maryland on the same basis which this sort of operation ended back in 1942. Too much has happened in that period to warrant ever referring to the sport ‘as the same.’ During the wartime period and the era just following it, Maryland’s sport has both prospered and been condemned.”

Among changes to commence at the tracks in an effort to “clean house” was the creation of the Office of Protection to go after “rule evaders,” augmenting police forces on site, adding a mobile laboratory for quick testing of saliva, and using film patrol to check on the actual running of every race. The state’s four major tracks would also adopt the use of the receiving barn, although Bowie’s wouldn’t be complete until the fall. The barns were being built “for the protection of those horsemen who wish to avail themselves of it.”

  • The first post-war Pimlico Yearling Show, sponsored by the Maryland Horse Breeders Assocation and held on the track’s Club House Lawn, was offering classes for Maryland-bred yearlings sired by out-of-state stallions in an effort to encourage participation.

  • The travels of The Maryland Horse editor Humphrey Finney included many Maryland farm visits, which he chronicled in greater detail than his “Saddle-Bag” would permit.

    Among his stops was Cleveland Skinker’s Flamingo Farm in Cooksville; Wayne Johnson’s Churn Creek, one of the state’s largest farms located near Chestertown; and Samuel D. Riddle’s Glen Riddle Farm in Berlin, not far from Ocean City.

    “We drove down to have a look at War Kilt, winner of the Demoiselle and other stakes in Glen Riddle’s yellow and black last year, and also Walter M. Jeffords’ Belmont Stakes winner Pavot,” wrote Finney. “I had no idea of seeing Mr. Riddle at the farm, but was enjoyably surprised to find the sprightly octogenarian down on a visit from his Pennsylvania home and feeling in the best of form.”

  • The majority of Maryland-bred winners in February were from Sagamore Farm. The most newsworthy of the 11 – six by Discovery – was Knockdown, winner of two races including the Santa Anita Derby.

    Another of the Discovery winners that month was the 3-year-old filly Geisha, getting her only win in 11 starts. She more than made up for her modest racing career by producing Native Dancer four years later.

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