Maryland’s most successful CEO, Kevin Plank of Under Armour, has a unique tie with this year’s Kentucky Derby winner, Animal Kingdom. As it turns out, Plank purchased the Sagamore Farm, a 530 acre horse training facility where he hopes to train a Triple Crown winner.
Plank has already seen success in the horse racing industry, in Novermber he won the Breeders’ Cup $2 million Filly and Mare Turf race with Shared Account, a horse trained by Graham Motion, Animal Kingdom’s trainer.
The Washington Post’s Liz Clarke published a great piece about Plank’s quest to win in a Triple Crown on WashingtonPost.com on Monday.
The catalyst was the tenuous state of the Preakness, the second leg of the Triple Crown, whose future at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course was threatened by the industry’s sagging fortunes in Maryland after neighboring states moved more quickly to adopt slot machines.
The prospect of losing the race alarmed Plank, who considers the third Saturday in May, Preakness Day, as the most significant day of the year for Baltimore to market itself to the nation and world.
Should Maryland’s most successful business man train a horse that wins the Triple Crown, something that hasn’t been done since 1978, it might just keep the Preakness alive in Baltimore.
“For people to say the Preakness would go away and that was okay — the indifference people had toward that, to me, was shocking,” Plank said in Clarke’s article. He credits his love for the race as the motivation for getting into the horse racing industry.
Though his knowledge of the industry is limited, Plank’s business in horse racing starts with the culture of winning he creates with his employees.
“What I’d like to build in Sagamore is as much of a brand as what we have built in Under Armour. People trust Under Armour. I go and buy an Under Armour shirt because it’s the best shirt in the world; and I root for a Sagamore horse because I know that a culture of winning exists.”
Plank has two horses racing at Pimlico on Saturday, Humble and Hungry, a bay colt racing in the James W. Murphy Stakes at 12:53 PM and Shared Account, a filly running in the Gallorette Handicap. He hopes that in five years he will have a horse racing in the Preakness Stakes.