Did you know that "...Prince George's County has from the early eighteenth century been in the forefront of horse breeding and racing. Several historic sites illustrate that tradition: Belair Mansion, Belair Stables, Kildare, Fairview, and Weston, Pleasant Hill and Bowling Heights. ..." Heritage Themes "...Secretariat, Seabiscuit, War Admiral. Their names are the stuff of legend, legends forged on Maryland sod. Home to Pimlico and the Preakness Stakes, Laurel Park and the Maryland Million, and 267 years of horse racing tradition, Maryland's five tracks for Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds are the cradle of American racing..."

Thoroughbred Racing and Harness Racing (Standardbreds)

Below are the racetracks of Maryland See the Horse Races at Maryland's Legendary Tracks:

  1. "Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore
  2. Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed and Alydar: the legacies forged over Pimlico's historic 1 3/16 miles. Home to the famed Preakness Stakes, pivotal second jewel in horse racing's ultimate series, the Triple Crown, Pimlico has been a center of American horseracing since its first race in 1870. Nestled into the rowhomes and woods of Baltimore, Pimlico hosts race days as well as live, simulcast races from around the world. ...

  3. Laurel Park, Laurel
  4. 1,089 feet, the length of the stretch at Laurel Park, the distance to make an untested horse a legend. Secretariat, War Admiral, Spectacular Bid and Barbaro have all tested their metal against the track at Laurel Park and, for more than a century, this famous track has echoed with the hoof beats of champions. With live racing, simulcast events, first class terrace dining and a grandstand perfect for a family picnic, Laurel Park is also host to the annual Maryland Million, a celebration of the Maryland Thoroughbreds, some of the finest horses on Earth.

  5. Casino at Ocean Downs, Berlin
  6. The farms and fields of Berlin produced Man O' War, perhaps the greatest Thoroughbred of all time. Today this seashore track hosts spectacular Standardbred harness racing. ...Ocean Downs combines simulcast racing with live events. Plus the new Casino at Ocean Downs offers slots and great dining options.

  7. Rosecroft Raceway, Fort Washington
  8. 'The Raceway by the Beltway' brings some of America's best Standardbred harness racing to the Nation's Capital. Rosecroft has been a fixture of the Maryland horse racing landscape since 1949...live races, simulcast events and dinner at the Terrace Dining Room makes Rosecroft a great way to spend the day.

  9. Maryland State Fair, Timonium
  10. ...The Maryland Jockey Club, founded in 1743, is 33 years older than the American Revolution. Horse racing is a tradition here that runs deep. ...The old Timonium Raceway comes to life each summer for live racing during the State Fair...."

Steeplechase, dressage competitions, polo, fox hunting, trail riding and even jousting all have strong identities in the state. My husband and I boarded our horses for a number of years in Maryland. We rode for the Maryland National Capital Police (MNCPP) as mounted volunteers. Our horses had to pass the capital police tests for mounted police horses. We attended many classes over a period of months taught by the capital police in order to be able to have this honor. When we boarded our horses in Virginia we were able to take this expeience and ride for the volunteer program at the Manassas Battlefield in the same mounted volunteer capaicty. It was a wonderful experience and a terrific way to give back to the community when riding in the parks, battlefields, etc. "...The Maryland Horse Industry Board and the publication The Equiery are great directories for places to go riding and where to learn to ride. Travel the Horses & Hounds Scenic Byway to immerse yourself in Maryland's Horse country, where fox hunters have swept across rolling, grassy fields in a colorful pageant of horses and hounds since Colonial times. ..."

Steeplechases - What does it mean when the words "steeplechase racing" or "jump racing" are used? Jump racing is a term used to describe any type of racing involving jumps. This article will deal with steeplechase racing, specifically; however, at the end of the article will be a link to "hurdle racing," as well. Steeplechase Racing/Jump Racing "...Although it originated in the United Kingdom as a cross-country race from church steeple to church steeple, this exciting sport has quite the history here in Maryland, too. Expect plenty of tailgating at the annual Potomac Hunt Races in May. The Fair Hill Races have been held on the 5,600-acre former estate of William DuPont, Jr., since 1934. This Elkton (Cecil County) race is the only U.S. steeplechase event with parimutuel betting, a wagering system in which payoffs are determined after the betting pool closes. ..."

Steeplechasing originated in Ireland in the 18th century. Steeplechases can cover much ground. Often it is as long as 4 miles. Both the horse and the rider must be really fit. It is grueling. The jumps are usually fixed rails, fixed objects, ditches, and water jumps. They are large, as there are many horses and riders steeplechasing in competition at the same time. In Virginia, an internationally well-known steeplechase takes place every spring on the same day as the Kentucky Derby (a race on the flat--no jumps). It is always the first Saturday in May--rain or shine. Our family has attended the Virginia Gold Cup Steeplechase Races for the past 25+ years. This link is to the 2007 races. Below you will find much more information on the 2008 Races. Probably the most famous Steeplechase race is Aintree Grand National. Steeplechase Racing/Jump Racing

"...Horse trials and shows - Maryland Combined Training Association (MCTA) Horse Trials, May, Cockeysville (Baltimore County) - Held at Shawan Downs on Shawan and Falls Roads, this nationally-recognized, longtime event features novice through advanced levels of competition that showcase endurance, dressage, and jumping.

Fair Hill Recognized Horse Trials, May, Elkton (Cecil County) - Held at Saw Mill Field near the county fairgrounds off Route 273, this 'triathlon for horses' is more than a competition that draws 200 horses from the Mid-Atlantic region and spans three phases: dressage (a horse's capacity for precision moves and communication with the rider), cross-country, and stadium jumping. Admission is free, and Olympic riders are expected to be in attendance...

Loch Moy Farm serves as a premier venue for a variety of equestrian competitions - it is the #1 Eventing venue in the Mid Atlantic and #4 in the USA. They draw large attendance to their Hunter and Jumper Sugarloaf Mountain Horse Show Series and feature competitions each July. Located in Frederick County on the Monocacy River, Loch Moy Farm is surrounded by stunning views of Sugarloaf Mountain.

Polo - Capitol Polo Club, Poolesville (Montgomery County) - Located on nearly 600 acres in the Montgomery County Agricultural Reserve, this club has three full-sized polo fields, outdoor and indoor arenas, and a grandstand. The Polo Academy offers a full range of instruction, and the Development League allows Academy graduates to continue their progress in learning how to play. Weekend matches are open to the public.

Maryland Polo Club, Monkton (Harford County) - Games are held Fridays at 6 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m., starting June and running through the summer. The field is adjacent to Ladew Topiary Gardens, and tailgating is a popular way for visitors to watch the matches.

Jousting - More than 50 years ago, in 1962, Maryland designated jousting as the state's official sport. Upcoming tournaments are listed on the Maryland Jousting Tournament Association website.


Assateague Island National Seashore Assateague Wild Ponies/Copyright HorseHints.org (Maryland portion in Worcester County) - Assateague's wild horses are descendants of domestic animals that have reverted to a wild state. Their ancestors were likely horses brought from the mainland to barrier islands such as Assateague in the late 1600s as a Belair Mansion and Stable Museum, Bowie (Prince George's County) - Built in 1907, the stable was operated by Belair Stud until 1957. Samuel Ogle, a provincial governor or Maryland credited with introducing organized Thoroughbred racing in North America, established Belair Stud as an American Thoroughbred horse-racing stable and breeding farm in 1747, and between 1923 and 1953, Belair Stud horses won 631 races. (Five of these horses are in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.)"

"...Beginning in the late 1740s, Governor Samuel Ogle and his brother-in-law, Colonel Benjamin Tasker, imported a number of Thoroughbred horses, including the incredible Selima, to Belair. Long involved in Thoroughbred racing in the colonies, Ogle and Tasker sought to introduce English stock to the colonies in hopes of strengthening local racing stock. They succeeded. Their mare, Selima, still lives in history and in the bloodlines of many of today's famous racehorses.

Successful Belair Stable Horses - The Stable, built in 1907 by William Woodward, was part of the 20th century's famous 'Belair Stud Stable,' one of the country's premier stables from the 1920's through the 1950's. Belair was home to Gallant Fox (1930) and Omaha (1935) - the only father/son horses to capture Thoroughbred racing's famous Triple Crown Series. In 1955, Belair's Nashua, an incomparable champion, was Horse of the Year. Other champions, including Johnstown, Fighting Fox, and Vagrancy also called Belair home.

Note: "Gallant Fox was a United States Thoroughbred horseracing champion. In a racing career which lasted from 1929 to 1930, he ran seventeen times and won eleven races. As a three-year-old in 1930, he won nine of his ten races and became the second horse to win the U.S. Triple Crown. The term "Triple Crown" was not commonly used at the time but was employed by the New York Times to describe the colt's achievements." Gallant Fox

Note: "Omaha (March 24, 1932 - April 24, 1959) was a United States Thoroughbred horse racing champion. In a racing career which lasted from 1934 through 1936, he ran twenty-two times and won nine races. He had his greatest success as a three-year-old in 1935, when he won the Triple Crown. As a four-year-old, he had success running in England, where he narrowly lost the Ascot Gold Cup." Omaha (1935)

Present Day - Today's Stable Museum highlights the accomplishments of Belair's bloodstock over a 200-year racing legacy. It also features Belair's other agricultural uses and contains a restored 1923 Stablemaster's living quarters. ... City of Bowie

Horse Rescue

Days End Farm Horse Rescue (DEFHR), Woodbine (Howard County) - This nonprofit rescue and rehabilitation center shelters 50 to 70 horses at any given time. Since its founding in 1989, it has taken in more than 1,750 horses, 94 percent of which were eventually adopted and moved to permanent homes. DEFHR uses volunteer adult and youth trainers to help with the rehabilitation of horses on-site, and in some instances, off-site. Horses available for adoption are listed on the DEFHR website."

For More Information:

Maryland's Horse Heritage
Famous Horses
Famous Racehorses and Halls of Fame from Around the World
First posted: Mar 22, 2018
Last update: Jan 21, 2020