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Under Armour founder invests in Maryland horse-racing future

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Local,Maryland,Matt Connolly

One local business icon is eyeing an opportunity as horse racing in Maryland starts to see a casino-driven resurgence.

Kevin Plank, who founded athletic apparel company Under Armour in 1996, bought Sagamore Farms in Baltimore County with the hope of restoring it to its former glory. The farm, established in 1925 and owned for most of the century by the famously wealthy Vanderbilt family, had fallen into disrepair when Plank bought it in 2007.

"What [Plank and general manager Tom Mullikin] did was implement a long-term plan to restore the property and also breed, train and race at the highest level," Sagamore spokesman Chris Daley said.

While Sagamore's tagline is "Bringing winning back to Maryland," it's not the only game in town. Kentucky Derby winner Orb is co-owned by Marylander Stuart S. Janney III, though the horse was bred in Kentucky.

"[Plank] wants Marylanders to have a sense of pride in rooting for Sagamore Racing the way they would Baltimore Ravens football or Baltimore Orioles baseball," Daley said. "Ultimately that could generate a sense of pride in Maryland for horse racing in general."

Sagamore gained attention when mare Shared Account won the $2 million Breeder's Cup Filly and Mare Turf in 2010. The farm has since had two horses in Triple Crown races, with Monzon in the Belmont Stakes in 2011 and Tiger Walk in last year's Preakness.

"Kevin Plank has sunk tens of millions into the Maryland horse industry," said Ross Peddicord, executive director of the Maryland Horse Industry Board. "He will be winning one of these Triple Crown races before too long." - Matt Connolly

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