After bucking the odds to become a major player in the sports apparel business, Kevin Plank is eyeing a similar role in horse racing.
Plank, the founder and owner of Under Armour, bought Sagamore Farm in 2007. The 530-acre training and breeding facility was once the home of Native Dancer, winner of the Preakness and Belmont in 1953. After spending millions of dollars to refurbish the farm, Plank is poised to take the next step in his bid to restore Maryland’s rich racing tradition.
Having already produced a Breeder’s Cup winner and a Belmont Stakes entrant at Sagamore Farm, Plank will enter Tiger Walk in Saturday’s Preakness. His ultimate goal, however, is to develop a Triple Crown winner.
Plank figures Maryland, and Sagamore Farm in particular, is as good a place as any to breed the next great horse.
“I don’t think there’s anybody that owns the right,’’ he said. “We haven’t had a Triple Crown winner in 33 years. What other sport hasn’t named a legitimate champion in 33 years? So that is far overdue, and no one in Kentucky has done it. These aren’t God-given rights limited to growing up in Kentucky. Maryland has that kind of history with Man of War, War Admiral, Native Dancer. So why not us?’’
Sagamore Farm made a profound impression on the sport in 2010 when Shared Account won the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Fillies and Mares race. Last year, Monzon finished ninth in the Belmont.
And what of Tiger Walk, the fourth-place finisher in the Wood Memorial? Trained by Ignaco Correas, the dark bay son of Tale of the Cat will have two-time Preakness winner Kent Desormeaux in the saddle.
Tiger Walk will wear blinkers for the first time Saturday, a change Correas hopes will improve the horse’s focus.
The always confident Plank won’t predict a victory, but the other 13 entrants don’t concern him - including Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another.
“We won the Breeders’ Cup two years ago with a 46-1 long shot,’’ Plank said. “Nobody thought that she could do it. But she won. That’s what makes horse racing great - that lottery ticket in your pocket.’’
Juvenile champion Hansen will not run in the Preakness.
The near all-white colt won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in November and the Gotham Stakes in March to put him among the favorites at the Kentucky Derby. But Hansen, who had sprinted to the front in his other starts, was caught in traffic and never a factor. He finished ninth.
Bodemeister is headed to the Preakness to challenge I’ll Have Another after their memorable finish in the Derby.
Bodemeister set a blistering early pace in the Derby only to be caught in the final 100 yards by I’ll Have Another and finish second, giving owner Ahmed Zayat his third runner-up finish in the race in the last four years. Zayat was on hand Monday to watch Bodemeister to make sure the horse was ready to travel to Baltimore for Saturday’s race.