Maryland Million widens its influence

Foreigners shop for horses as 1990s program grows

Horse Racing

October 11, 2004|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Among the 16,339 patrons at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday for the Maryland Million were eight Koreans and 11 Russians and Ukrainians here to buy thoroughbreds for racing and breeding in their countries.

Their presence was the continuation of a program started in the mid-1990s by the state Department of Agriculture and the Maryland horse industry to interest, initially, South Koreans in buying Maryland horses.

Nancy Wallace, director of international marketing for the Department of Agriculture, said the international delegation purchased 37 thoroughbreds for $337,110 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale last week at Timonium, bought three privately and is negotiating to buy six more. She said the state and its horse owners have recently embarked upon a program with China.

Since 1997 the South Koreans have purchased more than 2,200 horses in Maryland, Florida and Kentucky, Wallace said. Mike Pons, an owner of Country Life Farm near Bel Air, traveled with a trade mission to South Korea in December and watched as Maryland horses finished first, second and third in that country's biggest race, he said.

The Russians and Ukrainians began looking at Maryland horses in 2001. They bought a Malibu Moon filly named Moon Thistle for $4,000 at Timonium, and this year she captured the Russian Oaks and Russian Derby. She became the first filly to defeat males in the Russian Derby since 1949, said Yakov Mann, her trainer, between races at the Maryland Million.

NOTES: Final betting figures for Maryland Million day were $6,535,179 (out of state on Maryland Million races and in state on Maryland Million races and simulcasts) and $4,642,444 on Maryland Million races alone.

The latter figure is a record for betting on Maryland Million races; an additional race was added this year. The former figure fell short of last year's record of $6,622,095, when Maryland tracks and OTBs simulcasted races from Belmont Park. This year, because of a simulcasting dispute, they are not. ... A Huevo, an 8-year-old gelding trained by Michael Dickinson at his Tapeta Farm in Cecil County, romped to a 19 1/4 -length victory Saturday night in the $300,000 West Virginia Breeders' Classic at Charles Town.

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