03/07/09 Northeast Regional: Under Plank

  • March 19, 2009
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The temptation—as the red-roofed foaling and broodmare barns have gone up, the white-board fencing began stretching across the perimeter, and a string of horses settled in—is to dwell on the glory days of Sagamore Farm where Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt Jr. bred generations of champions.

Its brightest star was Native Dancer, winner of 21 of 22 races. He was nicknamed “The Gray Ghost” for his light gray coat, which turned snow-white when he stood at Sagamore as a legendary stallion. Under a stand of sugar maple trees, his grave is marked by a small, plain stone slab in a nondescript equine cemetery.

While Sagamore’s new owner pays homage to its wondrous past, Kevin Plank is also clearly focused on his vision for the future.

“The farm has the DNA of champions in its bones, but being part of building something brick by brick, that’s what inspires me more than anything,” said Plank, 37. “We
honor the legacy, but we’re all about looking forward.”

Plank knows a thing or two about building a winner. In 1996 the Maryland native launched Under Armour—a moisture-wicking, compression T-shirt business—in the
basement of his grandmother’s townhouse in Washington, D.C.

The stretchy, fast-drying garments fit like a glove, keeping athletes cool in summer and warm in winter. Recognized as a major breakthrough, the technology enabled the
company to carve out a healthy niche in a fiercely competitive sporting-goods market.  Along the way Under Armour unwittingly created one of the shrewdest power
plays in fashion history.

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