Merryland Farms' racehorse finds new home

Couple will sell Bold American to woman

July 06, 1999|By Laura Cadiz | Laura Cadiz,SUN STAFF

Bold American, a retired thoroughbred whose future was in doubt after Baltimore County sold the farm where he lives, has found a new home with a Perry Hall woman.

Carole and John Rigione, the managers of Merryland Farm, bought the former racehorse from the county for $484 and will give the bay gelding to Jennifer O'Donahue, who eventually will pay them back.

"It's a happy ending, and I'm glad it's worked out as well as it has," said John F. Weber III, director of Baltimore County's Department of Recreation and Parks.

The horse's fate has been up in the air since the county decided in the spring to sell the 160-acre Merryland Farm, which was given to the county in 1993 by New York businessman Seymour Cohn.

Cohn also gave the county the horse, valued at $5,000. But county officials did not know Bold American existed until April, when the horse showed up on a county auditor's report made before the sale.

The untrained horse, who raced for one year, "does not have a future racing career," said Bob Bendler, deputy director of Baltimore County's Department of Recreation and Parks. "It is more a pet than a racing asset."

The Rigiones have been caring for Bold American, but they wanted to find another home for the horse because they knew that the property, a former premier thoroughbred breeding and training facility, would eventually be sold.

"I was looking for an easy way to do what was best for him and what was best for the county," Carole Rigione said.

William M. Rickman Sr., a Montgomery County developer and chairman of a Delaware horse track, bought Merryland Farm in June at a public auction for $1.075 million.

O'Donahue found out about Bold American through The Sun's April article about the horse. She contacted the Rigiones and began spending time with and caring for the horse.

When Carole Rigione walked into Bold American's stall and found the horse asleep with his head on O'Donahue's shoulder, she knew O'Donahue would be the right owner for the horse.

"They bonded," Carole Rigione said. "She fell in love with him, and he fell in love with her."

If the Rigiones had not offered to buy the horse, the county would have worked to find another home for the animal, Bendler said.

"We would not have put the horse in jeopardy," he said. "We would have properly cared for the horse."

O'Donahue will become Bold American's owner once she moves into her new home, which has a nearby stable where she will board the horse. O'Donahue also is looking into training the horse to determine whether he can be used for short rides, said Carole Rigione.

"I think he likes her," she said. "I think he wants to do whatever she wants to do."

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