Ross Valley Farm, a picturesque Baltimore County horse farm familiar to passing motorists on Interstate 83, is for sale. The asking price is $7 million.
The sale of the farm is the latest in a series of blows to the Maryland breeding industry. It was one of the few big-time
operations left in the state.
The 237-acre farm dates to Colonial times and has produced several Kentucky Derby and Preakness entrants. Land Rush, who finished seventh in the 1990 Derby and sixth in the Preakness, and Houston, who ran eighth in the 1989 Derby and sixth in the Preakness, were bred at Ross Valley.
Another Ross Valley horse, Mineral Wells, was a top contender for this year's Derby but did not enter. The 3-year-old is owned and trained by D. Wayne Lukas.
"We don't have the number of horses to warrant this farm. I'd like to sell it and move back to Howard County," said Eleanor Sparenberg, who has owned the farm since 1984 and extensively renovated its barns and grounds.
Its white fences stretching across rolling hills have become a landmark for travelers on the nearby interstate. Portions of the farm are in Sparks and Monkton. One industry official said the farm's improvements make it one of Maryland's best-equipped breeding farms.
Sparenberg said she intends to continue breeding horses but will board her animals at other farms, including her daughter's farm in Kentucky.
The farm always has had more capacity than she used, but she decided to put it on the market and see what offers she got, Sparenberg said.
"I don't have to sell it. If it doesn't sell then I will continue to live here," she said.
"We will only sell it as a horse farm. The only other thing you could do with it is develop it, but I don't want to see it used for that," she said.
The property has been known over the years as Hereford Farm and Merryman Farm. A Merryman family graveyard is on the farm with tombstones dating back to the 1700s, Sparenberg said.
"There's a great deal of history here," she said.