Sunday, March 24, 2013

Omaha, third Triple Crown Winner, Foaled at Clairborne Farm

Omaha and jockey Willie "Smokey" Saunders at Belmont in 1935
March 24, 1932 (81 years ago today): Omaha, son of Gallant Fox, was foaled at the Claiborne Farm in Kentucky.  Omaha would go on to win the Triple Crown in 1935, thus creating the only father/son pair to both win the Triple Crown to date.

Like his father before him, Omaha was bred and owned by William Woodward, Sr., the former owner of the Belair Stud Farm.  After being sent to Belair as a yearling, he followed in his father's footsteps by entering Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons' training program at the Aqueduct Race Track.  Omaha won only a single race as a two-year old, but he showed promise.  He matured over the winter.  Omaha grew to be larger than Gallant Fox, and he sometimes required a double stall in order to be comfortable.  As a three year-old, Omaha frequently showed bursts of speed, earning him the nickname the Belair Bullet.  He was paired with jockey Willie "Smokey" Saunders.  In the Kentucky Derby, Omaha ran against Nellie Flag, who was ridden by 19 year-old jockey Eddie Arcaro.  Arcaro would later win two legs of the Triple Crown while riding Belair Stud's Nashua in 1955.  On June 8, 1935, Omaha won the Belmont Stakes by a length and a half, thus becoming the third Triple Crown winner overall and the second Triple Crown Winner for Woodward and his Belair Stud Farm.

Special thanks to Kimberly Gatto for compiling this information in her book, "Belair Stud:  The Cradle of Maryland Horse Racing" (available at the Belair Stable Museum and

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Gallant Fox, second Triple Crown Winner, Foaled at Clairborne Farm

William Woodward, Sr. leads Gallant Fox and jockey Earl Sande at Belmont in 1930
March 23, 1927 (86 years ago today): Gallant Fox, the second horse to win the Triple Crown, was foaled (born) at the Claiborne Farm in Kentucky.

Gallant Fox was bred and owned by William Woodward, Sr., the former owner of the Belair Stud Farm.  Shortly after being weaned, Gallant Fox was sent to Belair.  Each spring, Woodward and his long time trainer Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons inspected all the yearlings at Belair, and they decided which horses would be sold and which horses would be trained.  Gallant Fox was selected to be trained at Aqueduct - Fitzsimmons' home track.  In his early days at Aqueduct, Gallant Fox didn't have the personality traits of a typical race horse.  He was lazy, curious and he "enjoyed the company of humans."  He eventually matured into a fine race horse, and in 1930, he was teamed up with accomplished jockey Earl Sande.  Gallant Fox, who came to be known as the Fox of Belair, won the Preakness Stakes, the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes in 1930, and he became only the second Triple Crown Winner.  Gallant Fox later sired Omaha, the third Triple Crown Winner.  To this day, Gallant Fox and Omaha are the only father/son pair to both win the Triple Crown, and they both did it wearing the colors of Belair Stud.

Special thanks to Kimberly Gatto for compiling this information in her book, "Belair Stud:  The Cradle of Maryland Horse Racing" (available at the Belair Stable Museum and

Friday, March 22, 2013

Bowie part of a food desert or looking for more variety?

NBC4's Prince George's County Bureau Chief Tracee Wilkins filed a news report on efforts to bring grocery stores to Prince George's County.  In particular, she looked at Bowie's efforts to bring Trader Joe's to the city, and the effort to bring Whole Foods to Route 1 in Riverdale Park.  She spoke with City of Bowie Economic Development Director, John Henry King, who said, "The grocery industry is going through a transition.  Wegmans' arrival in the Washington, D.C. region caused a lot of grocers to rethink where they place stores."

I think this story mixes up two different issues:  attracting grocery stores to areas where there are none, and attracting different grocery stores to provide greater variety .  Wilkins discusses this concept of a "food desert" where residents have to travel longer distances to get groceries.  That's not Bowie's case at all.  Bowie lost and gained grocery stores during the last ten years, but there isn't a lack of grocery stores.  The effort to attract Trader Joe's to Bowie is more about local grocery store variety.  University Park and Riverdale residents do have less shopping options than Bowie, but they aren't just asking for any ol' grocery store.  They've set their sites on a Whole Foods.

According to Wikipedia, a "food desert" is a district with little or no access to large grocery stores that offer fresh and affordable foods needed to maintain a healthy diet. Instead of such stores, these districts often contain many fast food restaurants and convenience stores.  As Wilkins states in the news story, the USDA has designated certain areas of Prince George's County as food deserts.  That doesn't include Bowie, but does include some areas not far from Riverdale Park.

Click here to read the NBC 4 story and see the video.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Mystery Boat Appears in Bowie Race Track Infield

Cabin Cruiser in the lake in the infield (The Baltimore Sun)
March 9, 1955 (58 years ago today):  At dawn, a boat became visible in the lake on the infield at the Bowie Race Track.  No one knew how it got there, and no one claimed ownership.  "Bowie at Sea over Cruiser," was the title of the story in the Baltimore Sun.  "Boat in Lake Mystery at Bowie," was the title for the story in the Washington Post.

Bowie Race Track map, June 1952 (The Baltimore Sun)

The pictures above can be purchased from The Baltimore Sun.  Click on the following links for more information.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Belair Village by Levitt and Sons

March 8, 1969 (44 years ago today):  This Levitt and Sons ad for Belair Village appeared in the newspaper.  The following text accompanied the ad:

Brand-new at Belair Village, this spacious colonial has four bedrooms, two complete baths and a powder room, comfortable family room, even a large breakfast alcove. Enough space and privacy for everyone!

Includes air conditioning and appliances!  Kitchen and laundry appliances by G.E. are included in the price... central air conditioning, too.  And there are other touches that add to the value and appeal of this spacious new home.  Like a formal reception foyer with walk-in-closet... paneled family room with exposed ceiling beams... built in vanities... decorator-selected lighting fixtures.  Landscaping is also included, with an ornamental gas lamp on the front walk.

Year 'round recreation!  At the town center lake, there will be boating in warm weather, and concerts at the lakeside band shell.  And just for children - a delightful animal farm... neighborhood parks... and open fields to romp in.  All the basics, too: convenient shopping, good schools, and houses of worship.

Six different models!  Levitt and Sons invites you to see its new colonial home in Belair Village.  And there are other models you can choose from - ranchers, colonials, bi-levels - priced from $23,900 complete.  Remember, with Levitt there are no hidden charges and no closing costs.  Decorator-furnished models are open weekdays 'til eight, weekends until seven at night.  Stop by any time!

Directions:  From Washington, take Capital Beltway to John Hanson Highway (Route 50) eastbound.  Continue on John Hanson Highway to exit at Maryland Route 197.  At end of exit ramp turn left, then drive 300 feet to the Belair Village exhibit area.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Nixon and Hoover visit the Bowie Race Track

Nixon and Hoover at the Bowie Race Track, March 7, 1959 (Washington Post)

March 7, 1959 (54 years ago today): Vice President Richard Nixon and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover joined a crowd of more than 20,000 people to watch a nine race program at the Bowie Race Track.  The trip to see the horses was a birthday present for thirteen-year-old Tricia Nixon who hoped to one day own a horse. The Nixon party included Tricia Nixon's classmate Peggy Quinn as well as long time Hoover companion Clyde Tolson.  The Vice President presented a trophy to the winner of the Barbara Frietchie Handicap - the featured race of the day.

J. Edgar Hoover was a frequent visitor to the Bowie Race Track.

In this picture, Nixon and Hoover are in the restaurant at the Bowie Race Track watching the horses before the fourth race of the day. This photo was taken by Jim McNamara, Staff Photographer for the Washington Post.