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Campus & Community

Fast and Fearless

UMD-bred Horse Gallops to Early Success at the Racetrack

By Annie Krakower

Horse racing

Race photo via Gulfstream Park Twitter; farm photo by Edwin Remsberg

Jockey Samy Camacho rides Fearless Ideas during an Oct. 3 race at Gulfstream Park West in Florida, where the filly took first place vs. a field of colts. Fearless Ideas, born to Old Grey Square (below) and raised at UMD’s Campus Farm, is slated to compete at the Maryland Million at Laurel Park on Saturday.

At the University of Maryland, Terps are taught that fearless ideas lead the way. At a Florida thoroughbred track earlier this month, that was literally the case.

In just her second outing, the UMD-bred horse named Fearless Ideas defeated a field of colts in an Oct. 3 race at Gulfstream Park West. The newcomer, who placed third in her debut contest in September, has already earned a combined $16,100 in winnings.

“I think we were a little surprised in that she’s only 2—it’s exciting to see a horse that young perform that well,” said Associate Professor and Extension Horse Specialist Amy O. Burk, who helped raise Fearless Ideas on campus. “It’s very unusual for a filly to take on the colts and win.”

Fearless Ideas and Old Gray SquareThe fleet-footed filly was born to retired race and show horse Old Grey Square in April 2018 with the help of Burk’s equine reproductive management class at the Campus Farm. While the course now focuses on providing foaling services for private clients, in the past, students helped to breed horses owned by the university; that was the case for Fearless Ideas’ mother, who was bred to a stallion named Mosler through a donation by the Harford County-based Country Life Farm. 

Burk’s class spent the wee hours of the night on campus to assist Old Grey Square through the foaling process. “Horses are unlike humans in the sense that when the mare’s ready to give birth, they can hold off for a while. They tend to want to give birth late at night,” she said. “Fearless Ideas was a textbook birth—the dam didn’t need any help.”

Although the foal was known around the farm by her “barn name,” Ivy, Burk’s class, which has typically bred two to three racehorses per year, also grants the youngsters Terp-themed titles for the track, providing “that UMD flair so they can represent the university,” Burk said. (Past Maryland monikers have included Fearless Terp and crowd favorite Diamondback Fire.)

Burk’s students raised Fearless Ideas for eight months, feeding and grooming her as well as teaching her manners while being handled, then presenting the filly at a professional auction for prospective racehorses in Timonium, Md., where she sold for $6,500.

“It was awesome to watch (Fearless Ideas) not only grow in size, but also grow mentally and really mature as the year went on,” said Camille Lee ’19, a student in Burk’s class who’s now an intern at Denali Stud Farm in Kentucky. “To see her final stages before that time of training was really, really cool.”

Fearless Ideas changed hands a few times before being purchased by David B. Anderson, whose horses have notched more than 100 first-place finishes. She received basic training at RiceHorse Stables, then started race prep this spring with trainer Jena Antonucci nearby in Ocala, Fla. Her facility, Bella Inizio Farm, includes a “eurociser” exercise machine that allows horses to stretch, walk and trot without being tied up, an oversized round pen for them to practice and even a swimming pool for them to train and rehabilitate muscles.

“She has been very level-minded, which is always very important,” Antonucci said. “When she came in, she was a little bit green, but she adapted to the racetrack.”

That training has resulted in $2,900 for Fearless Ideas’ third-place finish in a seven-furlong (7/8-mile) battle vs. fellow fillies, then $13,200 for her victory in a mile-long contest vs. the boys. Next, her team nominated her for the Maryland Million, a day of high-value races for Maryland-bred horses on Saturday at Laurel Park.

“We’re all really excited to see where she goes. It looks like she’s on a really good path and loving what she does,” Lee said. “We’re so happy to have been a part of that. It makes all the hard work that we’ve put in more meaningful.”

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