Who was Wyndham Walden, the founder of Bowling Brook Farm?
He was, quite possibly, the best horseman of his time, the leading trainer of classic winners during the last quarter of the 19th century.
He trained for 31 years, from 1872-1902, and during that time saddled 101 stakes winners as well as the victors of more than 1,000 races.
Most of these horses he trained at Bowling Brook, which originally comprised 1,800 acres. He moved there from New York "to get the horses away from those dreadful Long Island mosquitoes," his granddaughter, Thelma Shriner, has been quoted as saying. Mrs. Shriner, now 95, lives in Sykesville.
To facilitate moving his horses around, Walden built his own railroad spur at Bowling Brook, which hooked onto the main track near Union Bridge. From there, the horses were shipped by train to the Mount Washington station and then walked to nearby Pimlico.
Among his classic horses were seven Preakness winners, still a record for a trainer.
Walden saddled his first Preakness winner, Tom Ochiltree, in 1875. He then won five consecutive Preaknesses from 1878-1882 with Vanquard, Harold, Grenada, Saunterer and Duke of
Magenta. The latter three also won the Belmont Stakes.
In 1888, Walden capped off his record by winning the Preakness with a homebred named Refund.
Among the employees who got their start at Bowling Brook was the legendary Max Hirsh, a Hall of Fame trainer who started exercising horses there at age 12. In its heyday, as many as 90 yearlings were broken every year at Bowling Brook.
Walden died in 1905. His son, Robert Walden, took over the farm and saddled Kentucky Derby winner Manuel in 1899. He later became vice president of the Maryland Jockey Club, but sold his stock to Alfred Vanderbilt.
Wyndham Walden was inducted into racing's Hall of Fame in 1970. He, and most of his descendants, are buried in the tiny Methodist churchyard across the road from the farm he started 113 years ago.