A vulnerable piece of Amsterdam’s thoroughbred racing heritage will get a face-lift with the help of an $18,000 grant to the Friends of Sanford Stud Farm.
The organization this week announced winning the grant from the Alfred Z. Solomon Charitable Trust, a fund created after the death of Solomon, a horse racing fan and former farm owner who died in 2004 at age 104.
The money will be directed toward stabilizing and renovating the small mare and foal barn next to the broodmare barn off Route 30 in the town of Amsterdam. The town government has been budgeting money each year to help preserve the site.
The old, crooked barn sits in a highly visible spot at the entrance to the town’s growing business district, and renovations will change the look of the site, Friends member Sam Hildebrandt said.
“It’s going to be pretty,” Hildebrandt said.
The site — also called the Hurricana Stock Farm — was founded by Amsterdam carpet magnate Stephen Sanford in the late 1800s. The farm served as a contributor to the stock of race horses that kicked up turf at the Saratoga Race Course.
Hildebrandt, the son of jockey Louis Hildebrandt, who was based out of the Amsterdam facility, said the mare and foal barn was moved at the behest of Stephen Sanford’s great-granddaughter and placed on a concrete foundation, where it currently sits. But it wasn’t mounted to the concrete.
“In the haste to do this some years ago … the building never got attached to the slab,” Hildebrandt said.
The slate roof is in decent shape, but the structure has to be straightened, crossmembers have to be replaced, and once it’s stabilized, studs, joists and windows will be refurbished with the goal of restoring the barn’s original look.
“We’re going to try to bring it right back to what it looked like in 1880, when it was built,” Hildebrandt said.
There were several mare and foal barns on the massive farm, which once stretched north to where Amsterdam High School now sits. Once born, the foals and their mares would be taken to the smaller barns before they were eventually separated. Each pair had their own room, Hildebrandt said.
“It was like having a private room at a resort,” he said.
The grant marks the second major contribution from the Solomon Charitable Trust. The Friends won $42,000 from the trust and put it towards the $70,000 restoration of the Alfred Z. Solomon Memorial Training Ring.
It also punctuates an important year for the Friends of Sanford Stud Farm and the Hurricana site. The Friends this summer celebrated the achievement of getting the farm listed on the state and national Registers of Historic Places.
Work is expected to start in April, and the project should take about four months.
People can learn more about the site at www.sanfordstudfarm.org.