Saturday, May 24, 2008

Save the Sanford Stud Farm

Sanford Stud Farm, Amsterdam,NY in its glory days:

As the Farm looks today:

One of the advantages to having a blog is the forum to help "save" historic relics by spreading the good word. One of these is the Sanford Stud Farm in Amsterdam, NY, now a series of horse barns flanked by malls and fast food joints on what was once 1000 acres of thoroughbred track. The broodmare barn building, nearly 200 years old, risks imminent collapse. It is a piece of history amid a sea of commercialization. We pass this beautiful, Shaker-like structure everytime we go to Home Depot or our favorite diner, The Windmill. It breaks my heart to see it languishing there, especially since it housed the ancestors of such notable race horses as Secretariat.

As noted in this article by Barbara D. Livingston,© 2001, adapted from an article published in NEW YORK THOROUGHBRED,printed by New York Thoroughbred Breeders, Saratoga Springs, NY, Sanford Stud:

Almost immediately, what was once a glorious track with popular matinee races became a shopping plaza named the Sanford Farms Shopping Center. Still standing quietly but proudly behind an Office Max, one of the few large remaining Sanford barns awaits its fate. But most of the buildings are now gone, replaced by an access road. And where once stood a grand, cherry-walled stallion barn, there is now a Wendy's.

Carnegie Development, aware of Amsterdam's ties to the Sanford history, proposed a peace offering. It donated the large broodmare barn and an additional small barn, along with an acre of land, to the town for a Sanford museum. The company also agreed to move the equine monuments to that acre, those strong testaments to the Sanfords' glory days and foundation Thoroughbreds... Hidden behind one of those remaining barns, slowly disappearing into the growing weeds, the monuments wait, each separated into three segments...

Every morning, daybreak washes over the faces of these monuments. "MOHAWK II", and "LA TOSCA", and "MOLLY BRANT" glow in their solitude. One stone, now separated from its base but seeming to belong to Chuctanunda's, simply states: "His only start at five years, six furlongs in 1.12 at Saratoga, the fastest time ever made in the East". Every evening, darkness again envelops these hidden tributes, which Stephen Sanford had carved so long ago.

For now, however, the Sanfords live on through other monuments: the blood of Raise a Native, Discovery, Native Dancer, Bull Lea....

It is through them, and through more recent Thoroughbreds descended from Sanford stock—names such as Secretariat, Affirmed, Cigar, Silver Charm and Fusaichi Pegasus-that the family should gain the most peace, and most pride for a job well done.

The Sanfords did not breed any one great horse in their lifetimes, yet they left us an entire legacy of them.

Please don't make our children in Upstate NY ask, "Daddy, what's a farm?" Today I made a Paypal donation, the link for which is on their site, to pay $5 a month for 12 months to help save the farm. The monthly cost is the equivalent of a daily newspaper and breakfast or lunch. The farm may not mean anything special to you because you don't live nearby, but remember the significance of this place every time you cheer on a horse at Saratoga or Belmont or Kentucky Downs. Please visit their site, to learn what you can do to help.


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