AMSTERDAM - After 133 years, the Sanford Stud Farm on Route 30 in Amsterdam can celebrate its inclusion to the National Register of Historic Places.
The farm, also known as the Hurricana Stock Farm, "kind of started on accident," said "Sam" Hildebrandt Jr., a member of the Friends of the Sanford Stud Farm group and the son of famous jockey Louis Hildebrandt Sr.
Stephen Sanford in the 1850s created a stock farm where he bred farm animals. Sanford's sons became interested in horse racing in 1883, and convinced Sanford to create a thoroughbred horse farm.
"It became one of the largest horse-race thorough breeding facilities in the United States, if not the world. They won just about every major stakes race that Saratoga race track had to offer from 1880 up until about 1930. They were a force to be reckoned with in thoroughbred racing," Hildebrandt said.
Hildebrandt's father, who started his career on the Sanford farm as a jockey in 1937, created a group in the 1990s to help restore the farm. In 2006, when Amsterdam took ownership of the farm's broodmare barn and other structures, the new group was formed.
"We got incorporated in 2007, and then, as they say, the rest is history. It just kind of caught on and away we went. We put it into a little bit of a higher gear and we attracted some more money and attracted other individuals. From a core of 13 people, we've got a little over 320 people today in eight countries and 42 of the 50 states," he said.
The National Register of Historic Places is an official listing of historic places worthy of preservation. Hildebrandt said the group's original goal was not to be included to the National Register but to restore the building and keep it from falling down.
"It was in atrocious shape; it had no real serious upkeep or maintenance other than whitewash for probably 45-50 years. So it was in very, very bad shape. Along with the town, because the town owns the building, we were able to get donations and budgets through the town and grants from the state and private agencies, to invest about $225,000 in the building over the last six years. And we're looking at investing more; I would imagine it's going to be another $100,000-plus before we're in a position to really call it a visitors center and look at seriously opening it up to the public on a regular basis," Hildebrandt said about the farm.
His father died in November 2011.
Hildebrandt says recognition from the registry may magnify the farm and state racing history, and increase the credibility of the group. He's hoping in three to five years, the farm will be a destination for many tourists.
The Friends of Sanford Stud Farm will host Horse Tales and Cocktails at 6:30 p.m. today followed by the sixth annual open house from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. At the open house, there will be vendors, crafters, food, a car show, children's activities, a blacksmith, a bounce house, horses from Trinity and Royal View Farms, and a Chinese auction.