Baltimore County

The early hotspots for colonial horse sports, including racing and foxchasing, were in Southern Maryland, Annapolis and the Eastern Shore areas of the state.

But this began to change in the 1700s as settlers migrated north and west and the commercial scene shifted to Baltimore City. The first major Baltimore County horse farm was established in what is now Towson at Hampton Mansion, where Charles Carnan Ridgeley bred and raised Thoroughbreds in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Elsewhere, the terrain of the Worthington, Green Spring and Long Green Valleys was ideal country for foxhunting and steeplechasing coupled with major flat racing at Pimlico within Baltimore City limits.

In 1878 the Maryland State Fair was founded five years after the first Preakness Stakes was run in 1873. The fair moved the following year to its current site in Timonium. The Green Spring Valley Hounds was formed in 1892 followed closely by the first Maryland Hunt Cup race in 1894. The illustrious Sagamore Farm was purchased by the Emerson/Vanderbilt families in 1925. In 1929 the Maryland Horse Breeders Association became the first Thoroughbred breeding organization in the U.S., followed by the founding of the Maryland Horse Shows Association in 1932.

In short, Baltimore County became the center of Maryland’s horse industry and, despite being traversed by five major interstate highways (I-95, I-895, I-695 Baltimore Beltway, I-795 and I-83) and thanks to land preservation efforts led by such organizations as the Valleys Planning Council, it remains so today.