THE HAMPSHIRE CLOSES AFTER 21 YEARS

by Malcolm Barr, Sr., President, Hampshire Alliance, Inc. (formerly Hampshire Racing & Breeding Partnerships)

After 21 years in the Thoroughbred racing and breeding business, and for most of that time a member of the VTA, the Hampshire is closing the stable door and bowing out of the business it has conducted in the Mid-Atlantic states since 1989.

The first Hampshire Racing Partnership was cobbled together by U.S. Justice Department attorney Bill Joyce, formerly of McLean , VA , and myself, then a resident of Alexandria , in the bar/lounge at the National Press Club in Washington , D.C.

There were ten of us, mostly relatives and business colleagues, investing about $1,500 a piece into the pot. Bill and I were instructed to “go do it,” and we did until this summer when we raced our last horse. The three-year-old West Virginia-bred gelding, Makinusfamous, didn’t make us any more famous than were already are. Racing without success a half-dozen times, we finally sold him back to his breeders, Marie and Jerry Rosperich, and folded our tent.

Carol and Malcolm Barr, Sr.

We’d been in approximately 580 races (I attended all but about four) and watched all but three of our 130 winners walk into the winner’s circle. Our on-the-board statistics are a little above 60% and our win ratio about 21%. For most of the years, we stabled at Laurel and used trainer Dale Capuano. Our final trainer was Tina Malgarini-Mawing at Charles Town and our last winner our home bred, West Hampshire Way , last July. Our first winner, in January 1989 at Laurel , was Duke Toby ridden by the apprentice jockey Kent Desormeaux. We won our first four consecutive races that long ago winter.

We stumbled into breeding after claiming a 4-year-old mare, Probably The One, for $6,500 in the early 1990s. After winning more than $100,000, PTO began developing joint problems. We were busy finding her a retirement home when the partners of the day decided we should breed her. The 10 produced $750 each, our horse produced four live foals (one died about six months in) and all got to the track and all got to the winner’s circle, hence the title of my book published in 2006, “1,000 To 1” “Claiming, Breeding and Racing Thoroughbreds on a Shoestring and Beating the Odds” (available through authorhouse.com). We raced Probably’s Devil at Saratoga and Hampshire Dancer (our first stakes horse) at Colonial Downs, each without success.


From left, Probably The One, Dale Capuano, Mr. Verity, U.S.
Secretary of Commerce and partner Bill Verity at Laurel in 1991

Probably The One, incidentally, was adopted after retiring from the breeding shed, by her one-time groom, Amy Nicol (Paul, her husband, is a jockey at Finger Lakes, NY). She lived the good life with them for several years and died on their farm age about 19.

In 2003, a $7,500 mid-winter claim, Landler, used Colonial Downs as his launch pad for the Claiming Crown races at Canterbury Park , MN where he won his race by a nose. Prior to that, he’d won an allowance on the Preakness under card, and combined with wins at Laurel and Delaware Park he produced for us about $140,000 before being claimed.

In another breeding venture, to a cheap claim, Oskaloosa, who was never to race for us due to an ankle injury, we were again 100%, getting the mare’s two live ‘babies’ (Lunar Indian and West Hampshire Way) to the track and to the winner’s circle. A breeder told us years ago our chances of even getting the home breds to the track were at least 1,000 to one! Since not one of us at the time knew a thing about breeding, we were just lucky, I guess!



Hampshire’s Claiming Crown winner Landler

 We had our ups, and many downs, of course, but it was a great ride for most all of our 700 plus partners. Bill moved to Boston to become a judge, then run his own law business, so that left it to my wife, Carol, and myself, to run the partnerships. Carol stepped in as corporation treasurer and book keeper.

Our peak on moving our tack to Charles Town around 2005 was 12 horses in training. Our average was to run 2-3 at a time for claiming partnerships that were scheduled to operate for two years. Needless to say, few made money, but most partners got at least part of their investments back. We all recognized we were in the game for fun, and fun we had.

We would like to pay tribute to the many jockeys who worked for us – including Edgar Prado, Ramon Dominguez, Travis Dunkelberger, Donnie Miller, Mark Johnston, Joe Rocco. Kent Desormeaux rode our first horse and first winner at Laurel when he was a bug boy; veteran Anthony Mawing rode our last horse (Makinusfamous) and our last winner (West Hampshire Way ) at Charles Town. Ryan Fogelsonger was up for us at the Claiming Crown meet.



Hampshire’s last winner.

 Quipped well-known VTA member Kay Minton of Chantilly, VA, a long-time owner with the Hampshire and now involved in European partnerships and individual ownership, “After reflecting upon why I enjoyed my relationship with you (2002 – 2010) and now my Elite (England) and Axom groups, it is because you Brits know how to do things right!”



About the author: London-born Malcolm Barr Sr., 77, retired from the U.S. government to Front Royal, VA, after first spending 20 years in journalism, including a spell in Honolulu and Washington with The Associated Press. He and his wife have one son, Malcolm Jr., 25, a USAF intelligence specialist who returned last fall from Iraq and deploys to South Korea in November with his new rank of staff sergeant.