Sagamore Farm, the historic Maryland horse farm owned by Under Armour founder Kevin Plank, has just announced that it is shifting its focus away from horseracing and towards producing small batch, premium whiskey.
Instead of grazing pastures, the farmland will be used to grow rye and corn, which will be used with limestone-filtered spring water from the property to craft a Sagamore Farm brand of premium whiskey called Sagamore Spirit. Says Plank about the transition, “I love this farm and am so proud of what we’ve built with Sagamore Racing, including helping to reenergize racing in Maryland and experience success on the track. The farm will remain in my family, but after 14 years it is time to use this beautiful piece of property in a new way,”
In addition to the fields and whiskey production, Plank plans on giving public tours of the distillery as well as keep open the graveside of Native Dancer, the most famous racehorse to be bred at the farm. In addition, Plank will keep a small number of retired Thoroughbreds on the farm as pasture horses. The transition is expected to be completed by the end of December.
About Sagamore Farm
Sagamore Farm has a long, illustrious history. The 530-acre property was built in 1925 by the Issac Emerson, the creator of Bromo-Seltzer. His daughter, Margaret, married into the Vanderbilt family and left the farm to her son, Alfred G Vanderbilt Jr., on his 21st birthday in 1933. Vanderbilt, a horse and racing enthusiast, created a horseracing dynasty from the farm. He would go on to become the owner and president of Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course as well as serve as the head of the New York Racing Association and The United States Jockey Club.
During Vanderbilt’s tenure, Sagamore Farm was home to three eventual Hall of Fame horses, most notably Native Dancer, who won both the 1953 Preakness and Belmont Sweepstakes. During the farm’s heyday, Queen Elizabeth II even kept a broodmare on the property. Vanderbilt sold Sagamore Farm to a developer in 1986, but although the property languished, it remained intact.
Plank and his wife acquired the somewhat rundown property in 2007 and restored it. For the past 14 years, the farm has been the home of Sagamore Racing. At its peak, the farm housed 100 race horses. Sagamore Racing has had a good run under Plank’s guidance. Plank won the Breeder’s Cup as an owner in 2010 with Shared Account and last year as a breeder with Sharing.
Sagamore Farm entered its final race on November 7 at the Breeder’s Cup Classic in Keeneland with Global Campaign. The horse finished third. Said Hunter Rankin, the president of Sagamore Racing, about the final race, “While this day is somewhat bittersweet, I am very proud of all we accomplished and look forward to working with Kevin and my team on the transition to the next exciting phase in the life of this historic property.”
Plank commented about ending the farms association with horseracing and entering the whiskey business, “Horse racing, it is a terrific sport, and it’s a passion; a labor of love. And now I get to move this and transition into a passion and labor where I think we’re going to make the world’s most famous rye whiskey.”
About Kevin Plank
Kevin Plank is the founder and current Brand Chief of Under Armour, the sports apparel manufacturer. He founded the company in 1996, just after he graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in Business Administration, and built it to a company with more than 15,000 employees and more than $5 billion in annual revenue.
Plank and his wife, Desiree are well known for their philanthropy. They have given generously to young entrepreneurs as well as to Plank’s alma mater, the University of Maryland. Recently, the Planks provided the funding for 40 summer jobs in the maritime industry for Baltimore area high school students. Plank is a member of the Greater Baltimore Committee and the Greater Washington Partnership. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees for Living Classrooms, a non-profit organization that provides hands-on education for students using urban, natural and maritime environments as living classrooms.