Visiting Thoroughbred Breeding Farms-A Personal Adventure!



  • Paniolo_GalPaniolo_Gal Member
    edited August 2015
    Thanks again everyone! When I first started reading the no-bid mare...Leaving Virginia's article, I also had to pull out my box of Kleenex while reading her story. I hope this Star Cat x Leaving Virginia colt rewards the kindness of Ressa Harris & care from Brandywine in the near future! Will place a radar on him as well. :oD
  • Paniolo_GalPaniolo_Gal Member
    edited August 2015
    Since I was going to see Gulch at Old Friends as he is now 31 years old, I made it my quest to see the dam of Thunder Gulch as well. Pam Robinson, the co-owner of Brandywine was very accommodating and was able to bring in Line of Thunder from the open field so that I could get a chance to meet up close, this legendary dam...

    imageThe still proud and grand lady....Line of Thunder. She still looks good for age 28! (5/28/2015)

    Line Of Thunder (1987)
    Pedigree: Storm Bird-CAN (1978) x Shoot A Line-GB (1977) by High Line-GB (1966)
    Lifetime Earnings: $115,913 (11 starts: 3 wins, 2 places, 2 shows)
    Background: Came in 2nd in the Tattersalls Cheveley Park Stakes (GB-G1), Reference Point Sceptre Stakes. Her foals to race are all winners. Best known as the dam of champion racer and sire, Thunder Gulch. Thunder Gulch was Line Of Thunder's first foal born in 1992. She had 14 foals of which 13 raced. Her last foal, Satono Captain, was born in 2008. Line Of Thunder has been pensioned since 2011.
    Pedigree Chart:

    When it was time to pension Line Of Thunder, the current owner (I believe it was Mr. Satomi of Fontainebleau Farm) wanted Brandywine to provide after care for Line Of Thunder. And, as a favor to help Aikendale TB Rescue promote their cause and help them raise money, Pam Robinson let them feature Line Of Thunder at their rescue center. Line of Thunder arrived at the rescue center on 7/14/11. Unfortunately, when Pam Robinson heard that word was going around that the owners of Line Of Thunder were not providing aftercare of their own, and as a result ended up at a rescue center...Pam immediately got her trailer and went straight to Aikendale to pick up Line Of Thunder and took her back home to Brandywine Farm on 7/16/11! This was an important issue that Pam Robinson really wanted to clear-up regarding this misrepresented incident. It was unfortunate that Brandywine's good intentions for charity would be misconstrued in such a manner.

    imageA headshot of Line of Thunder. At age 28, you can still see the look of eagles in her eyes!

    imageAnother photo of Line of Thunder showing her star. Photo taken on 5/28/15.

    imageAfter getting a chance to give some loving on Line of Thunder and treating her some baby carrots/Mrs. Pastures cookies, Pam instructed her trusted handler (didn't catch his name) to personally walk her up to the band way up in the field. Pam didn't want Line of Thunder excitedly running back to her buddies and injuring herself. Pam really cares for her horses, young and old!


    imageA close-up view of Champagne Glow's blaze and bright copper coat! A Photo from Brandywine's facebook with permission from Pam Robinson. Photo taken on 3/2/2014.

    Champagne Glow (2/26/1988)
    Pedigree: Saratoga Six (1982) x Champagne Ginny (1977) by L'Enjoleur-CAN (1972)
    Lifetime Earnings: $128,250 (17 starts: 3 wins, 3 places, 0 shows)
    Background: In 1990 at age 2: won the Schuylkill Stakes (6f) and came in 2nd in the Frizette Stakes (G1-8f). She is best known as the dam of 2011 Belmont Stakes winner, Ruler On Ice.
    Pedigree Chart:

    Champagne Glow at 27 years old, had a rough time just a week prior to our arrival at Brandywine. Pam thought she would have to put her down! It appeared that Champagne Glow had injured her pelvic area/left hind area out in the field and could not get up. However, when Champagne Glow saw the vet coming to check on her and perhaps put her to sleep, Champagne Glow showed she wasn't ready to go yet and immediately stood up! She has been able to remain standing but with an obvious hitch to her gait when she was brought out for us to see her at the yearling barn. Respecting Pam's wishes not to show any photos of Champagne Glow in her present state, I am using photos of Champagne Glow when she was a few years younger and in better health. The photos shown are from Brandywine's facebook with permission from Pam Robinson to use instead. Even though she was injured, Champagne Glow still had bright clear eyes and her trademark shiny copper penny coat! With her present injury, she's in the best of hands with Pam Robinson watching over her...perhaps a soak in the HydroHorse if they can get her to walk down into the spa facility.

    imageHeadshot of Champagne Glow at age 23 from Brandywine's facebook with permission
    from Pam Robinson.

    imageChampagne Glow at age 23 from Brandywine's facebook with permission from Pam Robinson. In this photo, she sort of reminded me of Genuine Risk (1977) with a bit more chrome.

  • Love Champagne Glow's socks. Too cute, as Zenyatta would say.

    imageThe tiny brown and white specks in the distance is the band of pensioned mares with Steelyeyed, the guardian of his "harem".

    The band of pensioned mares and a retired gelding were near the barn for breakfast earlier in the day, but by the time we arrived, they had wandered all the way up a hill in their field. They live a very happy and natural equine life as a band of mares with a lone male...the super lucky gelding...Steelyeyed! He takes pride in watching over his "harem". Since the retired band was sooo far away for us to view, these photos are from Brandywine's facebook.

    imageMeet Steelyeyed (2000g) leading his ladies down a trail on 6/28/2012.
    From Brandywine facebook with permission from Pam Robinson.

    imageA handsome looking Steelyeyed enjoying a life on easy street. He loved having a job, but watching over a band of mares is a job he loves even more!
    Photo taken on 11/14/2013 from Brandywine facebook with permission from Pam Robinson.

    imageA headshot of Steelyeyed without his halter...he had somehow "lost it" up in the field. Steelyeyed is a hard-knocking race warrior running 124 races before he retired!
    Photo on 9/30/2012 from Brandywine facebook with permission from Pam Robinson.

    imageMeet the grand ladies-from left to right: River Sunset (1987), Jeanne Jones (1985) and Lyrical Princess (1986). Photo taken in June 2012.
    From Brandywine facebook with permission from Pam Robinson.

    imageA headshot of Jeanne Jones who ran second behind Winning Colors in the Santa Anita Oaks and Goodbye Halo in the Kentucky Oaks. Photo taken on 10/8/2012 at age 27.
    From Brandywine facebook with permission from Pam Robinson.

    Jeanne Jones pedigree:
    Steelyeyed's pedigree:
    River Sunset's pedigree:
    Lyrical Princess' pedigree:

    This is a video of Jeanne Jones racing in a heart stopping photo finish in 1987 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Jeanne Jones lost by barely a nose on the last stride.
    From YouTube.

    A link to Brandywine's Pensioners List:
  • KMMKMM Member
    Jeanne Jones has nice pedigree.:)
  • Hey-Hey...Jeanne Jones was a force to reckon with in her prime...She could hold her own with the best. Imagine...a contemporary of Winning Colors and Goodbye Halo! After producing 15 foals, she has definitely earned a well deserved retirement!
  • I love that they are out in the field just getting to be horses! What an amazing trip - I keep waiting for your next post!
  • Great video, Thank you! A race is always about more than win, place & show. How the race was run & won reveals so much more about the story.
  • This story just keeps getting better! I love how the gelding gets to be turned out with the retired broodmares. Thanks so much, Paniolo_Gal!
  • Thanks everyone! Glad you enjoyed the Brandywine tour. Sadly, I will be posting the last entry of this wonderful farm and will go on to another breeding farm. :o(

    imageThe soulful look of wisdom from Line of Thunder

    Some Stake Winners that were either foaled, raised or co-bred by Brandywine Farm:
    Ruler On Ice (2008g out of Champagne Glow): Won the 2011 Belmont Stakes and 3rd in
         the 2011 Breeders' Cup Classic. (Half brother to G1 winner, Champagne d'Oro.)

    Champagne D'Oro (2007f out of Champagne Glow): Won the 2010 Acorn Stakes

    Jody Slew (2007f out of Trustbuster): Won the Silverbulletday Stakes.

    Danza (2011c) (out of Champagne Royale): Came in 3rd in the 2014 Kentucky Derby &
          won the 2014 Arkansas Derby.
         Danza was recently retired to stud on 7/20/15.

         How Danza got his name:
          Danza's pedigree:

    Sky High Gal (2010f out of Shahrazad Sky): Won the 2014 Mizdirection Stakes.

    Itsmyluckyday (2010c out of Viva La Slew): Came in 2nd in the 2013 Preakness Stakes,
         but won the Holy Bull Stakes (track record) & Woodward Stakes.

    Secret Compass (2011f out of Maria's Pride): Won the 2013 Chandelier Stakes (G1-8.5f)

    Debt Ceiling (2011c out of Top Marks): Won the Bashford Manor Stakes (G3-6f).

    imagePam Robinson gives a parting kiss of appreciation to Champagne Royale at the Fasig-Tipton Sales on 11/2/2014-Photo by MH PItts from Brandywine facebook

    Special notes:
    Champagne Royale currently has 2 G1 winners!... with Danza and Majestic Harbor!
    Brandywine Farm reported the first birth for the stallion, Alternation
         out of Lady Is A Lioness (2010). The Alternation colt was born on 1/20/15.
         Note: Lady Is A Lioness is the last foal of Jeanne Jones.

    Links and references:
    Outstanding winners bred by Brandywine:“brandywine-baby”-carries-farm’s-hopes-ky-derby

    imageOur last shot of Brandywine as we leave their property...

    Regretfully, we had to leave for another appointment. I wish I could have stayed longer. I wanted to again thank Pam Robinson for her hospitality and time in showing us Brandywine's wonderful facility!
    (Hawaiian for Thank you!)

  • Wowww - how many farms did you visit in total? This just looks like such a fantastic trip!
  • Hey-hey, LOL! @jaefeathered...I had to separate out the visit to Old Friends, TB training facilities and the Kentucky Horse Park on this trip as it would have taken ages to download photos for the thread otherwise. My trip in late May was during breeding season so the choices of breeding farms were limited...I would have loved to have visited more farms otherwise. But it was indeed a well-rounded variety of TB venues we visited on this trip!

    Being from an isolated "rock" in the Pacific, when we travel, time permitting, we make it a point to see as much as we can! But @lauraj_cincinnati was very helpful in providing wonderful suggestions for our trip to Lexington. :oD
  • @lauraj_cincinnati: Paniolo_Gal's trip/adventure was obviously a huge success and she credits you partly for your input. I wish you had a pamphlet I could buy. I'd start planning my trip right now based on your suggestions and also based on PG's wonderful entry Visiting Thoroughbred Breeding Farms-A Personal Adventure!

    This is one of the best discussion threads. So many wonderful photos and history shared. My cup of tea.
  • Paniolo_GalPaniolo_Gal Member
    edited August 2015
    Thanks! @Especially_Horses...when and if you do make a trip over to see Lexington's TB breeding farms, this thread will be waiting for you to do your trip review as well! But if there is a TB breeding facility in your state or elsewhere, that will be great too! Speaking for myself, I like learning from other peoples adventures as well! :oD

    Coolmore Stud in Fethard, County Tipperary, Ireland is the headquarters of the world's largest breeding operation of thoroughbred racehorses. The operation is owned and managed by the Magnier family who have been associated with top-class stallions since the 1850s. As current sole owner, John Magnier has built Coolmore into a multi-national, multi-billion (euro) operation. There are 3 branches of Coolmore. The original farm now known as Coolmore Ireland, Ashford Stud (aka Coolmore America) in Versailles, Kentucky and Coolmore National Hunt (Castle Hyde Stud) in Ireland. There is also Coolmore Australia located in New South Wales, Australia and Ballydoyle which is a training establishment in Tipperary, Ireland.

    imageA photo of the entrance way to the Ashford Stud (Coolmore America) Stallion Office. This is where we met and gathered to start our tour of the stallion facility.

    Ashford Stud originally consisted of only 465 acres back in 1912 and has grown in acreage ever since. Ashford Stud is located in the Woodford County of Versailles (on Frankfort Road), the heart of Kentucky's Bluegrass country. It was part of an important cattle farm known as Hereford Farm owned by Col. Edmund H. Taylor (founder of Old Taylor Distilleries). It operated as a cattle farm up until the late 1970s when Dr. Bill Lockridge transformed the farm into a state of the art stud farm. After planning & construction, Ashford opened its doors for the 1982 breeding season. The roster of stallions was led by top stallion-Storm Bird. One of the resident mares at Ashford back then was Terlingua. The mating of Storm Bird and Terlingua resulted in their outstanding son, Storm Cat.

    When Ashford became part of Coolmore in the mid-1980s Storm Bird along with El Gran Senor and Woodman established Coolmore on an international level. In 1996 when Thunder Gulch, out of Line of Thunder, a Storm Bird daughter retired from racing, he soon became the top of the general sires in 2001. Other Ashford sires to top the list were: Hennessy in 2001), Tale of the Cat in 2003) and Giant's Causeway in 2005 & 2014. Woodman topped the list in 1990 and 1994. Today, the Ashford stallion roster is led by Giant's Causeway who achieved 3 champion sire titles (a feat achieved by Bull Lea, Nashrullah, Bold Ruler and Danzig since 1941).

    imageA close-up of the Ashford Stud (Coolmore America) Stallion Office

    After figuring out how to enter the impressive property using their intercom to open the decorative wrought iron gates, we got lost in the large property of beautifully manicured landscapes. Finally, we were guided by one of the staff members to where the guest parking was near the Stallion Office. Another group had parked further down the road and walked a long distance to meet us. The signs were not that clear driving up the roadways. We felt like we had entered a "village" in another part of the world within the area Versailles!

    While waiting for a late group who had also gotten lost to arrive for the start of the Ashford tour, we got to talk to our young Ashford Stud guide. His name was Sean. When he greeted us, I could tell by his accent that he was from Ireland. He asked how I could tell and I told him we had been to Dublin last year (2014) and recognized the distinctive way he spoke. He mentioned that he had been working at Coolmore in Tipperary before coming to Ashford. Remembering a photo from our Blog member, Casadaly, (who had visited Coolmore Ireland last year) massaging a horse, I believed it was Galileo... I asked Sean if Galileo indeed enjoyed having his gums massaged and Sean confirm yes! Sean also worked with the mares at Coolmore Ireland and said that Kind is a very nice mare and her name really matches her temperament. He also mentioned that later on at the end of this breeding season, he was looking forward in going to Coolmore Australia for the Southern Hemisphere breeding season. Quite an ambitious and adventurous young man!

    As the last of the visitors arrive, we headed straight past the classic wrought iron entry gates of Ashford Stud stallion division to begin our tour. One of the first sights shown was a disappointing view of a rather unimpressive old breeding shed which was currently being used as temporary storage and as a spare area for occasional coverings. Sean said not to worry, that we will be seeing their current breeding shed later on in the tour. We hope so...perhaps this first sight should be omitted from the tour? idk...

    imageInside the old Breeding Shed

    imageA limestone overpass leading to the first stallion barn.

    These are the sights we saw as we continued on to the first stallion barn. The landscaping was impressive and it felt like we were in a park setting in Europe! The landscape Architect, Bill Henkel designed the garden and layout to create a feeling of space keeping the stallions safe and out of the sight from the mares.

    imageA view looking down the tree shaded overpass.

    The buildings designed by Architect Reese Reinhold on the property are really built to last! The exterior walls are constructed of limestone bricks. Each of the buildings had a sunray brick pattern radiating from a simple rosette window at the apex of the double pitched gable roof. I guess this roof silhouette could be considered a bellcast roof. Interesting however, how it handles the build-up of snow on the roofs during winter. Regardless, a very impressive architectural treatment to the barn structures we visited.

    imageArriving at the first Stallion Barn.

    imageA close-up of the sunray limestone brick pattern around the rosette window and the lower portion is a random ashlar walling pattern.

    imageOur group entering the first Stallion Barn. Sean, our guide, is wearing a blue baseball cap closest to the barn.

    imageA view of the stalls as we entered the barn...pardon the photo distortion of the walls.

    imageThe interesting architectural construction inside the first stallion barn. Disregard the distorted walls shown in this photograph...the walls are actually all straight & vertical.

    imageThe view out of the barn towards the tree covered walkway we had just entered. The pathway is covered with recycled rubber pavers.

    imageThe view looking out of the barn on the opposite end showing a circular courtyard where Ashford Stud shows their stallions. Note: the entire courtyard is also covered with recycled rubber pavers.

  • Those rubber pavers do a pretty good job of looking like stone or brick, don't they?

    The limestone architecture is beautiful. It's a smart choice too, as there is so much of it in that part of Kentucky. I love the beautiful old "slave walls" one sees along the back roads. No mortar!
  • Paniolo_GalPaniolo_Gal Member
    edited August 2015
    Yes @lauraj_cincinnati! i loved how they re-purposed old tires to create these rubber pavers and used local limestone to create the exterior wall structures of the buildings. Those slave walls were indeed works of art and I am glad they still have some of these stone fences preserved in the area as we drove around.

    btw...If you refer back to the post above on this page, that old Ashford breeding shed used shavings from old rubber tires instead of Polytrack as the footing surface. This recycled material will again be seen later in the new breeding shed.
  • There's an organization called the Dry Stone Conservancy that preserves the art of making the walls and has volunteer projects to help maintain them. I am thinking of taking one of their introductory workshops.
  • Sounds exciting to learn about how these slave walls are created and what they are doing to preserve and maintain those still existing. Glad you can attend these workshops! Keep us posted @lauraj_cincinnati!

    It is indeed an artwork in construction especially without mortar/concrete! :oD
  • Oh...Before I post the first group of stallions, this is the 2015 stud fees and an online Ashford handbook. Currently, they have 13 stallions at Ashford. Of course American Pharoah will be added onto the roster for 2016 to be the 14th stallion. Thunder Gulch is now retired as of 2015. Unfortunately, the photos taken of the stallions were in their stalls so pardon the bad photos on the following review of the stallions...once again.

    Ashford Handbook download:

    imageOur group gathers around Lookin At Lucky's stall where there were 2 name plates above his stall... Grand Slam (1995-3/31/12) and his damsire, El Gran Senor (1981-10/18/2006).

    imageA shot taken of Lookin At Lucky as he comes to the stall door to check his audience.

    LOOKIN AT LUCKY (5/27/2007)
    Pedigree: sire (year) x dam (year) by damsire (year)
    Lifetime Earnings: $3,307,278 (13 starts: 9 wins, 1 place, 1 show)
    Background: In 2009 at age 2: won the Del Mar Futurity (G1-7f), Norfolk Stakes (G1-8.5f), CashCall Futurity (G1-8.5f) and the Best Pal Stakes (G2-6.5f). In 2010 at age 3: won the Preakness Stakes (G1-9.5f), the Haskell Invitational Stakes (G1-9f), the Rebel Stakes (G2-8.5f) and the Indiana Derby (G2-8.5f). He came in 3rd in the Santa Anita Derby (G1-9f). Acclaimed as the 2009 Eclipse Champion 2-Year Old Male and the 2010 Eclipse Champion 3-Year Old male.

    Entered Stud in 2011 at Ashford Stud
    Height: 16.1-1/2 hh
    Current Ashford Stud Fee: $25,000 (s/n)
    Pedigree Chart:

    imageA close-up of Lookin At Lucky who anxiously waits for dinner. "Hmm...they're running late with my dinner!"

    imageLookin At Lucky checking the ground for something to eat.

    Background video of Lookin At Lucky even as a late foal (born 5/27/2007) winning his first time out debut race as a 2-year old.
    from Coolmore America via YouTube

    imageSince we were unable to see Lookin At Lucky outside of his dark stall, above is a conformation photo from

  • Paniolo_GalPaniolo_Gal Member
    edited August 2015
    VERRAZANO (1/27/2010)
    Pedigree: More Than Ready (1997) x Enchanted Rock (2004) by Giants Causeway (a 1997 chef de race sire)
    Lifetime Earnings: $1,878,013 (13 starts: 6 wins, 1 place, 2 shows)
    Background: In 2013 at age 3: won the Wood Memorial Stakes (G1-9f), the Haskell Invitational Stakes (G1-9f), the Tampa Bay Derby (G2-8.5f) and the Pegasus Stakes (G3-8.5f). In 2014 at age 4: came in 2nd in the Queen Anne Stakes (GB-G1, 8f) and 3rd in the Lockinge Stakes (GB-G1, 8f). He is a half-brother to G2 winner El Padrino. Verrazano was retired in August 2014.

    Entered Stud in 2015 at Ashford Stud
    Height: 16.2 hands
    Current Ashford Stud Fee: $22,500 (s/n)
    Pedigree Chart:

    imageVerrazano was not up to meeting visitors today and kept facing the wall preferring to lick his salt block. Pardon this very bad photo of him.

    imageThis "rear" view shows that Verrazano enjoys being dirty! He does have a nice long tail however!

    image ▲Since once again, we were unable to get good photos of Verrazano, above is a conformation photo from

    Verrazano's exciting race at the 2013 Wood Memorial Stakes against Vyjack
    Video from YouTube

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