Plank is adamant that Sagamore’s grounds are manicured, its barns pristine and its employees well dressed ( issued burgundy shirts and khaki pants that are laundered for them), courteous and on-task.
The idea is to set a standard, craft an identity and, ultimately, build a brand.
“Whether Ray Lewis plays for the Baltimore Ravens, whether Chris Cooley plays for the Washington Redskins — people are Ravens or Redskins fans, and they want to root for their team,” Plank said.
“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.”
Saturday at Pimlico, Humble and Hungry, a Sagamore bay colt named for Plank’s self-styled business ethic and trained by Ignacio Correas IV, will run in the James W. Murphy Stakes at 12:53 p.m. Later that afternoon, Shared Account, the filly trained by Motion that Plank hopes will produce a Preakness winner one day, runs in the Gallorette Handicap.
But five years from now, Plank envisions having a horse in the Preakness Stakes. “We want to run in the races that matter,” he said. “And I want people to recognize our silks and take pride when they see our silks run.”
Tim Capps, a scholar in the Equine Program at the University of Louisville’s College of Business and a former executive vice president of the Maryland Jockey Club, has enjoyed watching the run-up.
“You’re always fascinated when a young, successful entrepreneur gets into the business,” Capps said. “There are a lot of people in Maryland racing who have waited for years to see somebody who is committed buy Sagamore because it’s a legacy farm, one of the shining pieces of Maryland breeding. People are watching what he’s doing with their fingers crossed, hoping he’ll succeed.”
Adds Pons, the third-generation Maryland breeder: “If [Plank] said he was going to do this next year, it would be laughable. But 20 years? He has a shot. But he’ll have to have patience. This is a race not to the swift, but to the persevering.”