- Published: Tuesday, 30 June 2015 17:23
Richard Golden’s first memory of horses was going to summer camp when he was 7 years old and discovering his favorite activity was going to the stables every day where he learned to ride and take care of the horses.
A sweet beginning for a man who eventually would become the owner of Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City, its sister farm in Peach Bottom, Pa., Maryland’s leading sire Not For Love and Sycamore Hall Farm, also in Chesapeake City. Now, Golden has been named the recipient of the Maryland Racing Media Association’s Humphrey S. Finney Award.
The award is named for the founding editor of The Maryland Horse Magazine, who was also past chair of the Fasig-Tipton Co. It is the most prestigious honor given by the MRMA and comes in recognition of a winner’s lifetime contributions to horse racing in Maryland.
Maryland Racing Commission chairman Bruce Quade also has been selected to receive the MRMA’s Nancy Alberts Newsmaker Award and new national Hall of Fame inductees trainer King Leatherbury and Xtra Heat have been named winners of the MRMA Dale Austin Newsmaker Award. The awards will be presented in November at the MRMA’s annual crab feast at Laurel Park.
Golden was overwhelmingly selected for the Finney Award that has been given since 1984.
“It was by acclamation,” says Frank Vespe, MRMA vice president. “It was one of those things. I can’t remember who made the proposal, but once he was suggested everyone agreed it was a great idea. It’s a lifetime achievement award and we thought it was a good time to do it with [Maryland’s leading sire] Not For Love being retired this year and with Northview’s breeding history in the mid-Atlantic.
“Northview, Richard, Not For Love – they’ve had a huge impact on racing.”
Not For Love, Vespe pointed out, is one of few stallions to garner not only a regional reputation in the mid-Atlantic, but a national one, as well.
Despite Golden’s early enjoyment of horses at camp, he didn’t grow up working with them and didn’t discover his love of thoroughbred racing until he was 36.
“I started out riding quarter horses on the trails and fields near my home on the North Shore of New York,” says Golden, who made his fortune in the manufacturing of women’s apparel. “I went to see a few quarter horse races after that and I quite frankly found them boring. They all seemed to end in a dead heat. Then I decided to go to Belmont Park and that is how I got hooked on thoroughbreds.
“Belmont had a majestic atmosphere and the whole presentation was much more professional. That was 40 years ago.”
Golden, now 76, got hooked on Maryland after meeting Allaire du Pont, who lived on Woodstock Farm in Chesapeake City, at his first breeding farm in Ocala, Fla.
“Once she found out I was from New York, she told me I had to visit her Maryland farm,” Golden says, recalling how he wound up buying Northview. “It didn’t take long for the persuasive Mrs. Du Pont to find me a farm to buy in Maryland. Northview was the original Windfield’s Farm. I was in awe just being there and then when I was told that I would have to take care of Northern Dancer, who was in the stallion barn at the time, I remember getting quite nervous.
“Northern Dancer lived for three years under my care and died of a heart attack at the age of 28. When I called Windfield’s in Canada to inform them of Northern Dancer’s death, they told me to look in a shed in one of the paddocks, that I would find a coffin for Northern Dancer that they had prepared many years ago.”
Perhaps du Pont had a green thumb. Because the seeds of love she planted for Maryland racing in Golden grew deep roots and bloomed. Asked what it was she said or did that inspired his connection with the state, he could not point to anything specific other than her animated enthusiasm for Maryland and all things in it.
“You just had to know her and how exuberant she was about the beauty and the excellence of the horses, the people and the whole Maryland landscape,” he says. “She would mesmerize me with her delight in Maryland.”
Once hooked, Golden, partnering with du Pont and later Dr. Tom Bowman, established Northview as a leader in the mid-Atlantic.
Honored by the Finney Award, Golden said he believes his greatest contribution to the state breeding and racing programs is “the fact that I have been trying hard, as have others, to keep Maryland racing and breeding moving forward. Although we are competitors in business, there is a great group of owners and breeders [who] are on the same team when it comes to Maryland racing.”
Not For Love, whose breeding lines go back to the great Native Dancer and Northern Dancer, who both stood in Maryland, was bought by Golden as a 5-year-old and raced for him before going to Northview in 1996 for his illustrious breeding career.
By the time he retired this year, Not For Love had been Maryland’s leading sire for the past 12 years and was the leading North American sire standing outside of Kentucky for eight consecutive years. He also, as might be expected, leads all Maryland sires in lifetime progeny earnings ($68.6 million), juvenile earnings and is the all-time leading sire in Maryland Million wins with offspring having won 32 Maryland Million races.
Golden said he thinks Not For Love demonstrated to all the other stud farms in the state that Maryland breeders have the mares and owners to support a significant stallion. He also thinks Not For Love “has become a symbol or an image” of what a stallion with the right bloodlines and support can accomplish outside of Kentucky.
“I am happy that Northview was able to keep Not For Love in Maryland,” he says, and admits the horse is special on a personal level, as well. “I had never had a stallion stand at Northview that I owned and raced before he actually retired to stud [there]. That was a special feeling for me and it was a big responsibility. Though I love all my horses or I wouldn’t be in the business, I guess that I rooted harder for him than the others.”
He also rooted and worked to support Maryland racing. When Maryland’s breeding industry fell on hard times over the past decade, Golden and Bowman, now his former partner, decided not to take the easy way out and leave the state.
Instead, they stayed to support it.
“We never considered leaving Maryland,” says Golden, who until this year split his time between Maryland and Florida. “At the time, Pennsylvania looked like it was moving forward in the thoroughbred industry, so we just considered expanding Northview. We both lived in Maryland and had confidence that as the legislature in Maryland changed, there were some very promising candidates that had positive views of the thoroughbred industry.
“We also felt that our stallions and our breeding/boarding facilities would be appreciated by the breeders and owners.”
Quade, the Maryland Racing Commission chair, leaves little doubt of the truth of that statement.
The Eastern Shore resident says that while he is very surprised to learn he, himself, is being honored by the MRMA, he sees Golden’s award as most deserving.
“As a regulator, you don’t usually get an award,” Quade says. “But I don’t care who you are, you like it when someone says you are doing a good job. I’m very honored. In Richard’s case, he’s one of the leading [horsemen] in the state. His reputation precedes him. He runs one of the premier breeding operations, not only in Maryland, but nationally, with a lot of success. He’s a prime example, of a horseman who stuck through the good times and bad times and still made a success.
“Hopefully, with what he and people like him have done and with what the commission has done by developing an enhanced breeding incentive program Maryland's breeding will be back to what it was years ago. We are now one of the few states that has had an uptick with more foals, more stallions and more mares.”
Quade pointed to Golden as someone who represents the best the industry has to offer.
“If I had a bucket list,” Quade says, “he would be on it. I want to sit with him and pick his brain about how things are going and what else he sees that we can do to make it better.”
Quade will be happy to know Golden believes the state is on the right track. What really makes him happy, Golden says, “is a healthy and creative thoroughbred industry. I have not seen that in Maryland until a few years ago. Now, more than ever, I am witnessing our industry officials working together and producing very positive results. If this continues and we get the proper support from our elected officials, I think Maryland racing’s brightest years are in front of us.”