Edgar Merryman Lucas, 89, raised thoroughbreds at Helmore Farm


Edgar Merryman Lucas, one of Maryland's most prominent thoroughbred breeders and enthusiastic horsemen, died Saturday of cancer at Blakehurst Life Care Community in Towson. He was 89.

Mr. Lucas presided over Helmore Farm, his 87-acre horse breeding farm in Brooklandville, where during his career, more than 50 stakes winners were bred or raised.

"He was a charming kind of guy who always had a nice stable of horses," said Snowden Carter, Maryland racing historian and retired editor of the Maryland Horse. "He was well-known and respected, and his name always added a little class and respect to a deal."

Mr. Lucas' interest in the sport dated to 1924, when his father and uncle, who had boxes at Pimlico Race Course, invited him to a day at the races, and he cashed his first winning bet.

But it wasn't until 1958 that he purchased his first thoroughbred, and not until 1962 that he had a major winner when Phantom Shot won Monmouth Park's Long Branch Stakes at 14-1 odds.

"I started off by buying three yearlings and a barren broodmare," he told Maryland Horse in a 1964 interview.

"In 1959, I tried to race the yearling but drew a complete blank. I might have gotten fourth money once. It wasn't much good in 1960, either. Except that we did win a race. That was with Royal Idol, who won at Atlantic City at 31-1 odds in a $5,000 claimer."

One of Mr. Lucas' favorite horses was Northern Jove, a son of fabled Northern Dancer. Many consider Northern Dancer to have been the greatest sire in thoroughbred history, a horse that possessed "the bluest blood in a sport of blue bloods," wrote former Sun racing writer Dale Austin.

For the past 30 years, Mr. Lucas has been assisted in his efforts by his son, Dale Lucas of Brooklandville.

"At the time of his death, he was still looking to the future and trying to breed a Triple Crown caliber horse," Dale Lucas said. "And he still owned several mares and foals and took great pleasure in watching them develop into fine racehorses."

Perhaps his most outstanding horse was North Course, a 1975 gelding by Northern Jove, who won six stakes and earned $327,520.

In 1980, Mr. Lucas, who had operated two farms since 1967, sold his 130-acre farm in Howard County to Jerold C. Hoffberger, former Orioles owner, who renamed it Sunset Hill Farm. He then confined his operations to the Brooklandville farm, where he had resided since 1935.

Born and raised in Roland Park, Mr. Lucas was a 1928 graduate of Gilman School and attended Princeton University.

"I don't think he ever rode a horse again after leaving Princeton where he was in the ROTC," his son said with a chuckle.

In 1932, Mr. Lucas began his business career in the investment department of McCubbin, Legg & Co. as a utilities analyst. In 1935, he joined his father and uncle at General Utilities and Operating Co. in Baltimore, a public utility holding company that later became an investment holding company.

Mr. Lucas was president of the company from 1955 until 1969, when he sold the business.

During World War II, he served as chief accountant for the Office of Strategic Services and was discharged as a captain in 1945.

A lifelong golfer and former club champion at the Baltimore Country Club and Green Spring Valley Hunt Club, Mr. Lucas continued playing the sport until last year.

He had been president of the Maryland State Golf Association and the Mid-Atlantic Golf Association and had remained active in the organizations.

Looking back over his life, he told Maryland Horse in a 1989 interview, "I've always enjoyed it. You enjoy the things you're successful at doing."

Services were held Wednesday.

Mr. Lucas also is survived by three grandchildren.

Pub Date: 2/05/99

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad