What may well be the first public horse farm tour ever sponsored in Maryland will open today across a wide swath of one of the Middle Atlantic's most expensive rural turfs.
Country estates in three northern counties, Carroll, Baltimore and Harford, will be the settings for the farm tours today and tomorrow to highlight the coming "Maryland Million" fall racing program early next month.
The goal, say sponsors, is to deepen public awareness of "the history of thoroughbred racing and breeding in Maryland" -- a $1 billion annual state enterprise nearly as large as its Kentucky counterpart.
Visitors, simultaneously, will see less glamorous but normal farm operations under way at the tour stops. And wineries and equestrian centers of the northern counties will also be on tour during the Maryland Million event this weekend, plus a polo match, a Welsh pony farm and miniature horse farm tour and a garden tour. Among sentimental attractions at tour stops are the grave of the great Native Dancer at Sagamore Farms in Worthington Valley. Hansel, 1991 Preakness and Belmont winner, is grandson of one of the Shamrock Farms stallions in Carroll County. Bonita Farm in Harford County is home of Deputed Testimony, the 1983 Preakness winner. A surprising 28,000 thoroughbred horses make their home in Maryland. Racing fans by the tens of thousands see the highborn equines in national competitions at tracks annually. By contrast, the homes of the hopeful horses are generally a mystery, except for thousands of Baltimore County commuters who travel Greenspring Avenue or commute to the Hunt Valley business center and pass some of the thoroughbred farms. The "Maryland Million" racing program was inaugurated in 1986 at the suggestion of Jim McKay, an internationally known TV sportscaster. It offers a nine-race, one-day card (scheduled Sept. 8 at Pimlico) with purses of $1 million for offspring of Maryland stallions.
This weekend's tours are sponsored for the benefit of the MarylandCouncil of Equine Therapies. The council was formed to act as a contact point for statewide therapeutic riding and driving associations. Tickets are available at each horse farm. The price is $15 for adults and $7.50 for children. Thoroughbred farms will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Other attractions have varied hours shown in the tour program. Estate and farm dwelling interiors are not included in the tour.
Maryland Million Horse Country Tour sites
The following are the attractions, spread across Baltimore, Carroll and Harford counties, of the Maryland Million Horse Country Tour today and tomorrow.
*Corbett Farm: 2314 Corbett Road, Monkton
*Ross Valley Farm: 450 Piney Hill Road, Sparks
*Sagamore Farm: 3501 Belmont Ave., Glyndon
*Worthington Farms: 2700 Tufton Ave., Glyndon
*Imperial Egyptian Stud: Arabian Horses: 2642 Mount Carmel Road, Parkton; open: Saturday 9 a.m.-noon, Sunday 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
*Weston Farm: Sheep: 12601 Long Green Pike, Glen Arm; open: Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to noon.
*Boordy Vineyards: 22820 Long Green Pike, Hydes; open: Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
*Cinnamon Tree, Marriott's Hunt Valley Inn, I-83 at Shawan Road, Hunt Valley. 785-7000.
*Enrico's, 808 Route 150, Westminster. 833-6301.
*Fiori, 100 Painter's Mill Road, Owings Mills. 363-3131.
*Graul's Market, 220 Mount Carmel Road, Parkton. 329-6221
*Manor Tavern, 15819 Old York Road, Monkton. 771-8155.
*Michael's 2119, 2119 York Road, Timonium. 252-2022.
*Valley Inn, 10510 Falls Road, Brooklandville. 828-8080.
*Bowling Brook, Middleburg Road and Crouse Mill Road, Middleburg.
*Green Willow Farms, 955 Oak Tree Road, Westminster.
*Shamrock Farms, 4026 Woodbine Road, Woodbine.
*Dedication Farm, 6020 Emerald Lane, Sykesville; open: Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to noon and 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
*Valhalla Miniature Horses, 1955 Valhalla Drive, Finksburg; open: Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., noon to 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
*Mowbray Wine Cellars, 818 Silver Run Valley Road, Westminster; open: Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
4 *Baldwin's, 7618 Main St., Sykesville. 795-1041.
*Maggie's, Washington Road and East Green Street, Westminster. 876-6868.
*Maria's, 532 Baltimore Blvd. (Route 140), Westminster. 876-2611.
*Rudys' 2900, 2900 Baltimore Blvd. (Route 140), Finksburg.
*Westminster Inn, 55 S. Center Street, Westminster. 876-2893.
*Bonita Farm, 3745 Harmony Church Road, Darlington.
*Country Life Farm, 309 Old Joppa Road, Fallston.
*Elberton Hill Farm, 837 Darlington Road, Darlington.
*Murmur Farm, 3200 James Run Road, Aberdeen.
*Ladew Topiary Gardens, 3535 Jarrettsville Pike, Monkton; open: Saturday and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.
*Maryland Million Polo -- held at Ladew Topiary Gardens, 3 p.m. Sunday. 557-6448.
*Shoulderbone Farm, 4246 Madonna Road, Jarrettsville.
*Georgetown North, 12 S. Main St., Bel Air. 879-0007.
*K. Bitner's, 2235 Churchville Road, Bel Air. 879-6399.
*Souvenirs, 18 S. Main St., Bel Air. 879-2266.
*Cafe at Ladew Topiary Gardens, 3535 Jarrettsville Pike, Monkton. 557-9466.