In what he called a "reorganization," William S. Farish is looking for a buyer for his Camden Training Center in South Carolina. The prospect of the facility changing hands has preservationists and horsemen concerned it will be developed unless a benevolent individual or group decides to take ownership of the 385-acre facility.
"I personally think it's the best training center on the East Coast," said Gerry Goswell, who is preparing young horses for Christophe Clement, P.G. Johnson, and Carl Nafzger. "We've got a great racetrack, a 7/8 mile turf track inside that, and trails through the woods that are harrowed every day. It gives you such a variety of places and things to do with horses. It would be a tragedy if something like Camden is lost."
Farish, who is having some of his young horses broken in Florida this year, said the Camden matter is "at a sort of sensitive stage at this point. I think that it will remain...in the hands of people associated with it."
When Farish purchased the facility in 1985 from the estate of Marion du Pont Scott, most of its tenants were private stables. Today, public trainers are just as prevalent. Among those at Camden are Laird George, Mickey Prager, Jamie Woodington, John Veitch, plus Farish's Lane's End horses and youngsters from Shadwell Stable. High season is from September to May, when as many as 200 horses call Camden home. Within walking distance is the Springdale training track, which was also owned by du Pont until she left it to the state of South Carolina. It is mainly occupied by Steeplechase horses and trainers.
Dale Thiel managed Camden Training Center for du Pont, and now owns 360-acre Evergreen training center. Thiel is very active in the local equestrian community and is in favor of keeping the area intact. He said he purchased Evergreen not for use as a training center, but because it adjoins the area's hunt country. He said Farish contacted him about buying Camden, but he declined. He said he would like to see it remain as is even under new ownership.
"Operating a training center is not a good investment," he said. "On its merit, it's hard to get people interested in that kind of thing. If this happened a couple years ago, we could call on a lot of people (to put up the money), but now most of the people in the training center are public trainers."
George Strawbridge Jr.'s name has apparently come up as a possible buyer. Strawbridge has horses in training at Springdale. He said, "I would be very sympathetic to trying to preserve it as it is," but made no mention of pursuing purchase of Camden.