Garnet Troyer, 70, racehorse trainer at Sagamore Farm

April 05, 2005|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Garnet "Buddy" Troyer, a horse trainer who early in his career prepared thoroughbreds at Baltimore County's Sagamore Farm and regularly exercised the legendary racehorse Native Dancer, died of cancer Friday at Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pa. The former Glyndon resident was 70.

Born in Baltimore, he was raised on the grounds of the Greenspring Hunt Club, where his father tended the hounds. A 1953 Franklin High School graduate, he served in the Air Force in North Africa.

He then became a caretaker and ran the horse breeding stable at Piney Grove, the Butler-area estate of Elizabeth Nichols, and worked for well-known Maryland horsemen Henry Clark and Harry A. Love before becoming the farm trainer at Sagamore -where Native Dancer was standing at stud.

As part of his duties, Mr. Troyer exercised Native Dancer, known as the Gray Ghost, on the Sagamore grounds. When Native Dancer died in the fall of 1967, Mr. Troyer took the horse's photograph off the wall of his living room and never displayed it again, family members said.

In his many years at Sagamore, Mr. Troyer readied young horses for owner Alfred Gwynn Vanderbilt, who received the sprawling farm as a 21st birthday present from his mother, a Bromo Seltzer heiress.

"He broke the yearlings - and he broke many bones, too," said Mr. Troyer's former wife of 20 years, June Shank Troyer of Reisterstown. She recalled that her former husband broke 13 bones - including a leg and an ankle - in his role as the Sagamore Farm trainer.

"He was excellent with horses," said Donald Litz, head of the Maryland Stallion Station horse breeding facility across Tufton Avenue from Sagamore. "Buddy had a sensitivity with horses that was rare."

A 1984 account in The Sun detailed how Sagamore Farm was like a "boarding school" for the 40 to 50 foals born there each year and where the yearlings were broken and trained at its track.

"You can't fully appreciate what you see at a racetrack unless you have seen the labor of love that begins on the farm each morning," the article said.

"First the trainers talk to the year-old horses, petting their necks and rubbing their backs until the animals are used to the human touch. Then gradually, over several weeks, the horses are introduced to the saddle, bridle and finally a rider," the account said.

In 1985, Mr. Troyer married Joanne Klein, who also had worked at Sagamore. He began training thoroughbreds in Florida, California and Washington state before settling several years later in central Pennsylvania near the Penn National track.

Mr. Troyer continued to train horses there until a month ago as his health was failing.

"He just had a knack of knowing horses," his wife said. "He'd take his time, and his patience paid off. We didn't have Derby winners, but we had nice horses that performed well."

A memorial service will he held at 2 p.m. April 16 at Grace United Methodist Church at Falls and Ridge roads.

In addition to his wife, survivors include four sons, Mark Douglas Troyer of Owings Mills, Jay B. Troyer of Pasadena, Dennis Alan Troyer of Reisterstown and Samuel Albert Troyer of Palmyra, Pa.; a daughter, Vicki Lynn Troyer of Palmyra; two brothers, Donald Troyer of Owings Mills and Gilbert Troyer of Reisterstown; a sister, Carol Watson of Owings Mills; and six grandchildren.

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