Merryland Farm in Hydes, Maryland, is a full-service breaking and training center. Encompassing 180 acres with numerous pastures and round pens, plus a 5/8th-mile training track, and located 20 miles south of Fair Hill and an hour north of Laurel, Merryland is the perfect place to send your yearling to be broken or your racehorse to get legged-up.
Merryland Farm was founded in 1939, when former owner Danny Shea first broke yearlings on the property. The 5/8th-mile training track that Shea built was actually about 100 feet shy of that distance. So, Shea installed a pair of finish lines — one, “Danny’s selling pole” for use when prospective purchasers had a stop watch on the action, and the other when Shea was deciding which of his 2-year-olds to send to the races.
When Shea died in 1960, Merryland was the largest commercial horse farm in Maryland. His widow, Betty Shea Miller, continued to manage the farm for another 30 years after Shea’s death. Betty Shea Miller was known for her humorous wit and her racy Christmas cards — and she kept Merryland pristine and productive during her tenure while it was owned by Mrs. Henry Obre (the niece of Harry Guggenheim, owner of Kentucky Derby winner Dark Star).
Back-to-back Two-Year-Old Champions were broken at Merryland. In 1968, Elberon Farm’s Process Shot was recognized as the nation’s top 2-year-old filly after learning the racing game at Merryland. The following year, Elberon sent out another Merryland-broke juvenile champion in Silent Screen — one of the favorites for the 1970 Kentucky Derby for Elberon’s principal, Sonny Werblin of New Jersey.
Accepted by the Baltimore County Department of Parks and Recreation as a charitable donation in 1993, Merryland was subsequently purchased at public auction by Delaware park owner William Rickman in 1999. Rickman spent the following two years restoring Merryland to functionality before Country Life bought the property in 2001.