10 years ago, Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank purchased Sagamore Farm, implementing a long-term restoration plan with the mission to breed, raise and race Thoroughbreds at the highest level. Jonathan Passero joined the team 10 years ago when it all started, and he is now the Grounds & Facilities Director. Jon and his five Grounds & Facilities teammates take care of all 530 acres of Sagamore Farm. They are tasked with ensuring that the farm not only looks pristine at all times, but is also properly maintained for the safety and well-being of our horses, teammates and guests.
Jon and his crew have a heavy task at hand due to the immensity of Sagamore Farm. 530 acres total, 248 acres of pasture, 19 miles of fence, 3,800 gallons of paint for the fence (which accounts for 20% over spray), 80 sugar maple trees, and 80 hours to mow the grass across the entire farm (two days for the team of five). It is Jon and the rest of the Grounds & Facilities team that keeps our land looking beautiful every day.
Jon still remembers when he was surprised to get the call the day after Christmas. Jon was in Canada at the time and flew home the next day to get started.
“My earliest memories always go back to the opportunity,” he explains. “I remember seeing tremendous opportunity to do something extremely special. I think that from day one has always kept me intrigued.”
The broodmare barn was almost finished about 10 years ago, but the yearling barn and training barn still needed renovations. Some of the fence wasn’t done, and it wasn’t completely painted. The training track wasn’t here.
Jon says, “Going from an operation that was finding its way to one that’s really found its way and being part of that transition, has really been amazing to watch and see that growth.”
Another pivotal moment Jon remembers is when a former college football coach visited Sagamore Farm. “One of their chants is ‘Recruiting Ready,’ and he said he’s never been to another property or been anywhere else ever that’s been maintained to this level. He said they call that ‘Recruiting Ready.’ We are always recruiting ready because you never know who’s going to pop in, when, why, whenever. You always have to be the same.”
“It took a few days to sink in for me, and from there it just became our chant and what we are. Because we maintain the farm with a relatively small crew, it was extremely important to us with the story behind us. For the team, it gave us a little more fire and a little more pride. It’s something we all strive to be – recruiting ready. Then when Hunter and Kevin decided to name the horse Recruiting Ready and he’s been very successful, it just made it that much more special.”
Jon also loves to talk about the beauty of Sagamore Farm down to every last detail. From the types of plants and trees on the property and the pasture management program, to the ¾ mile Tapeta™ racetrack that Jon maintains, Jon is willing to share his vast amount of knowledge to anyone interested in learning about the farm.
When it comes down to it, the team is everything. Out of the many accomplishments during the past 10 years, Jon is most proud of Chris. “He’s now my foreman, my right-hand man. Working together, teaching him, seeing him become confident and knowledgeable, has been by far the best thing or thing I am most proud of at Sagamore Farm. He’s been here through it thick and thin. He is recruiting ready everyday. He bleeds Sagamore red. You can never question his dedication because he has a giant Sagamore logo tattooed on his calf.”