As many eyes in the sports world focus on Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore Saturday for the 139th running of the Preakness Stakes, it's comforting to know Harford County still has a place in horse racing.
Bel Air's Country Life Farm, as Dewey Fox reminded our readers with his fine piece about the Pons family's operation in The Aegis Wednesday, is carrying on the horse breeding tradition that spans the past eight decades or so, helped out of late by the farm's part ownership of Malibu Moon, one of the top stallions in the country, who started his stud career at Country Life and now stands in Kentucky.
The tradition Harford County has of being in the midst of the finest in thoroughbred racing continues. From 1912 to 1950, minus a couple of years because of World War II, the track known as "The Graw" operated in Havre de Grace, often bringing the biggest names in horse racing, arguably one of the top sports of the time, to Harford County.
Harford County Council President Billy Boniface's father and grandfather bred Deputed Testamony, who won the 1983 Preakness and was also trained by the council president's father. That Preakness win fueled a very lucrative stud service for the family's horse breeding business
Louis Quatorze, who won the Preakness in 1996, stands at stud at Mur-Mur Farm in Darlington. Our Emblem, who also once stood at Mur-Mur Farm, sired War Emblem, winner of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness in 2002. Another Derby and Preakness winner, Carry Back in 1961, was conceived in a breeding at Country Life three years earlier.
Through the ages, Harford County has been directly connected with the best of the best in thoroughbred racing, and thanks to Malibu Moon, tradition continues for at least another year.
The promise of slot machine gambling that was touted as being the savior of horse racing in Maryland may rightly do so, but to this point that remains to be proven.
Let's hope our state government, at least briefly, can shift its attention from taking more of our money in taxes, needlessly spending too much of it and wasting way too much time focusing on things that don't amount to a hill of beans to most of us, and instead take another look at our horse industry.
If things don't change, once our country makes its long climb out of our housing debacle that has fueled this recession, those farms in Harford County and elsewhere in Maryland that have long sustained the horse industry will start disappearing again to developers.
If that happens, the horse industry in Harford County and in the rest of the state will just become part of the nostalgia of our history, just like Seabiscuit, the 1938 Horse of the Year, racing in Havre de Grace to become part of the lore that led to Havre de Grace being the name of the 2011 Horse of the Year.