Kevin Plank

Kevin Plank

Anne M. Eberhardt

Sagamore to Sponsor Native Dancer Stakes

Race is named for the "Galloping Grey Ghost" who won 21 of 22 starts.

Kevin Plank's Sagamore Racing announced it will sponsor the $125,000 Native Dancer Stakes Jan. 21 at Laurel Park.

Entries for the 1 1/16-mile test for older horses will be taken Jan. 17.

The Native Dancer Stakes, first run in 1996, is being restored to the Laurel calendar after not being run in 2012. It also was not run in 2004. Sagamore announced its sponsorship plan Jan. 16.

The race's namesake, Native Dancer, raced for Alfred G. Vanderbilt and was known to the public as the "Galloping Grey Ghost." From 1952 to 1954, Native Dancer won 21 of 22 starts, including the 1953 Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. In his only loss in the 1953 Kentucky Derby, the son of Polynesian finished a head behind Dark Star when bumped rounding the first turn.

"Native Dancer, roughed at the first turn by Money Broker, was eased back to secure running room, raced wide during the run to the upper turn, then saved ground entering the stretch and finished strongly, but could not overtake the winner, although probably best," the Derby chart notes read.

Native Dancer was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1963. Upon his retirement from racing, Native Dancer was a successful stallion while standing at Vanderbilt's Sagamore and died in 1967. He is buried at Sagamore.

"We are honored and excited for the opportunity to partner with the Maryland Jockey Club for this special race," said Tom Mullikin, Sagamore Racing general manager, in a statement. "Native Dancer is and will always remain a Sagamore Racing legend, and even as we look ahead to the upcoming race season, it is important that we remember and celebrate our deep-rooted history." 

"When you think of Sagamore, the first name that comes to mind is Native Dancer," Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas said. "We are thrilled Kevin Plank and Tom Mullikin are putting the Sagamore name on Monday's race."