Glenn Petty, a member of the board of the Virginia Thoroughbred Association, executive director of the Maryland-Virginia Racing Circuit Inc., and director of horsemen’s relations at Colonial Downs, gave an account of the newly-established Virginia Breeders Fund, set to distribute its first million after the 1997 racing season, which saw the opening of Colonial Downs in September. Awards would be paid to breeders and stallion owners, as well as to owners of Virginia-breds, and include money for restricted races.
News came of the retirements of three Mid-Atlantic legends – 6-year-old Pennsylvania-bred Alphabet Soup, the defending Breeders’ Cup Classic-G1 champion; Maryland-bred 3-year-old sprint star Smoke Glacken; and Delawarean William C. Lickle’s all-time leading money-winning steeplechaser, 12-year-old Victorian Hill. Most shocking was Smoke Glacken, who leapt into the national sprint title conversation after taking the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash-G2 against older runners a few weeks earlier, but was abruptly retired when bone chips were discovered in his knee.
Smoke Glacken was named the Eclipse Award champion sprinter of 1997, and is one of the newest members of the Maryland-bred Thoroughbred Hall of Fame.
Three of the most recognizable names in the region’s breeding industry were gone. Thomas Mellon Evans, nationally-prominent breeder/owner and proprietor of Buckland Farm near Gainesville, Va., for more than 40 years, died at age 86. His pinnacle of success was homebred Kentucky Derby-G1 and Preakness-G1 winner and leading sire Pleasant Colony. Evans bred a total of 88 stakes winners, and his dark blue and white silks were carried to added-money victories by 67 runners, 54 of whom were homebred.
Anderson Fowler, 85, was a leading breeder/owner more than a half-century. His best runners included homebreds Master Speaker and Timely Warning, winners of three consecutive runnings of the Maryland Million Classic (1989-1991).
Windfields Farm president Charles Taylor died at 62. The only son of the late Canadian industrialist and horse racing mogul E.P. Taylor, Charles Taylor assumed the presidency of Windfields in 1980 after his father became incapacitated by a stroke. Windfields Farm’s Maryland division reached its zenith under his leadership, its stallion roster – headed by Northern Dancer – reigned supreme throughout the Thoroughbred world.
- Deerhound got his first stakes winner when his 2-year-old daughter Countess Diana scored in Saratoga’s Schuylerville Stakes-G2. The 9-year-old son of Danzig stood at Allen and Audrey Murray’s Murmur Farm in Darlington, Md.