University of Maryland fans made their presence felt Saturday through their ownership of horses whose names clearly showed their allegiance to the Terps.
Among the Terps fans involved with horses is Fred Greene Jr., a Maryland grad and a Terps football and basketball fan. When his daughter Deborah was 8, he took her to her first Maryland football game and she fell in love with the team.
So when her Dad bred Sweetsoutherndessa — named after his wife, Odessa — and they got a gray foal three years ago, they named it Coach Fridge after their favorite football coach, Maryland's Ralph Friedgen.
Friedgen’s contract was bought out after the 2010 season. He was 75-50 in 10 seasons at Maryland.
“We hadn't met Coach Friedgen when we named the colt,” Deborah said. “When we were about to run in the Maryland Million, we sent an invitation to him to come to the race. We thought he already knew about the horse, but he didn't. I was in the grocery store when my cell phone rang. I answered, and he said, 'This is Ralph Friedgen.'”
She said she went a little crazy, she was so excited.
“He's extremely flattered we named our horse after him,” she said. “And he's been to the barn to see him, but he hasn't seen him run yet.”
Deborah Greene was thrilled Saturday when Coach Fridge rallied for a second-place finish in The Cover Girl Purse, a 5-furlong turf allowance race.
“I love this horse,” she said. “He has a lot of believe in him, and he's so sweet. You can pet him and play with him and he loves cookies — just like Coach Fridge.”
Not unlike the end of Friedgen’s tenure at Maryland, there is some controversy surrounding his namesake. Greene and her father filed Monday with the Court of Appeals of Maryland to have their horse restored as the winner of the Maryland Million Nursery race for 2-year-old colts.
Glib, trained by John Robb, won but failed a post-race drug test and was disqualified by the Maryland stewards. Coach Fridge, who finished second, was elevated to first. But on an appeal to the Maryland Racing Commission, Glib was restored to first place.
“To me and our attorney, it is unprecedented that they did not disqualify the horse,” Deborah Greene said, noting that Maryland racing has a no-tolerance policy for drug use.
Also at Pimlico on Saturday were some of the owners of 4-year-old Maryland-bred Mystical Terp. Many of the horses’ owners are Maryland grads.
“We love the Terps,” said Timothy L. Keefe, one of the owners.
The horse ran at Pimlico on Thursday but did not win. Its colors are black, red and gold — the colors of the university’s athletic teams.