Timonium: The Racecourse Before the Racetrack
Thoroughbred racing has a long history in Maryland—the first jockey club in the colonies was founded in Annapolis in 1743, making Maryland the first colony to organize the sport. The Baltimore Jockey Club was organized in 1806, counting the Ridgely family among its founders. There were small tracks throughout the city and county—including one at Govane’s Town (Govans) organized by the Baltimore Jockey Club and The Central on Old Frederick Road owned by the Maryland Jockey Club. Paul Belz describes the Central Racecourse as “Baltimore’s first nationally prominent thoroughbred racing facility. From 1831 to 1861, Central was in the top tier of the nation’s prestigious racecourses.” It was built on the grounds of the Arlington estate in the area of what is now Woodlawn.