Visiting Thoroughbred Breeding Farms-A Personal Adventure!



  • Paniolo_GalPaniolo_Gal Member
    edited July 2015

    ♦ For the Southern Hemisphere breeding season, Drosselmeyer shuttles to Brazil, Sidney's Candy heads out to Argentina and Breeders' Cup Miler Artie Schiller shuttles to Australia.

    Currently WinStar's biggest star is Tiznow (3/12/1997). He was the back-to-back winner of the 2000 and 2001 Breeders' Cup Classic...Currently, the only horse to do so! He was the 2000 Eclipse Champion 3 year old & HOY. Tiznow was also the 2001 Eclipse Champion Older Horse. In 2009 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He is the leading link to the tail-male lineage of Man O'War.

    ♦ Winstar has 2,500 breedings a year. The stallions breed 3 times a day.

    ♦ Bodemeister had 145 covers in his first year as stud and 176 on his 2nd year.

    ♦ WinStar owns 164 mares as well.

    *Notes taken from the WinStar tour, brochure and website.

  • A Contrast In Breeding Farms From One Of The Newest (WinStar)...
    To A Century Old Family Run Breeding Farm With A History Of Legendary Sires!


    imageThe Claiborne Farm Stallion Office. Note: The background on the left is the stallion gravesite.

    Claiborne Farm has its origins in Virginia. The Civil War veteran, Capt. Richard Hancock began raising Thoroughbreds on the Ellerslie Farm of his wife's family. The move to Kentucky came with the next generation.

    imageSince we arrived early, we got a chance to take photos of the sights around Claiborne. Notice the dark wooden building it the background. I believe this might have been used as an old Tobacco Barn of yesteryear. I was pleasantly surprised to see a pair of swans in the stream.

    Capt. Hancock's son, Arthur B. Hancock established a second farm on the property of his own bride and named it Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky in 1910. Even today, Claiborne has been operated by members of his family ever since! Arthur B. Hancock imported European breeding stock, making Claiborne International in breeding, sales and racing.

    With Arthur B. Hancock's leadership, one of Claiborne's famous sires was Sir Gallahad III-FRA (1920) who was imported from France. Sir Gallahad III sired 1930 U.S. Triple Crown winner, Gallant Fox (1927). Claiborne Farm was also involved in importing Blenheim II-GB (1927) in 1936 and Princequillo-IRE (1940) in 1944. In 1945, Arthur B. Hancock suffered a heart attack and as a result his son, Arthur Jr. took over running the business. (Note: Arthur Hancock, Sr. died in 1957.)
    More background info:

    imageSuch a relaxing scene, the sound of water running over the small dam further down the stream.

    Arthur B. (Bull) Hancock Jr. continued the pattern of breeding major winners. He imported Nasrullah-GB (1940) who led the sire list five times and sired Bold Ruler (1954) who then led the sire list eight times! Edward L. Bowen, a racing historian named "Claiborne Farm as one of the most influential American breeding operation as many breeders benefited from its horses and the length of time that influence has lasted".
    More background info:,_Jr.

    imageAn "interesting, quizzical " expression on this jockey statue holding a ring...probably used in the past as a hitching post for horses. ..idk, neither does this jockey.

    In 1972, Bull Hancock fell ill while hunting in Scotland and past away a month later of pancreatic cancer. Young 23-year old fledgling, Seth Hancock stepped up to make his own headlines when he syndicated Secretariat for a record $6 million. Seth has followed in his father's and grandfather's footsteps by acquiring stallions such as Mr. Prospector (1970), Danzig (1977), Seeking the Gold (1985). Claiborne bred Swale (1981), Lure (1981), Forty Niner (1985), Nureyev (1977), Caerleon (1980) and Fairy Bridge (1975) who was the dam of Sadler's Wells (1981), among many others. Seth Hancock also won the farm's first Breeders' Cup Classic in 2010 with the Eclipse Champion Older Male, Blame (2006) who now stands at Claiborne. Queen Elizabeth II (a racehorse owner herself) visited Claiborne twice (1984 and 2007). On June, 2012, he was inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame.
    Read Seth's Amazing Story below:

    imageMore graceful swans further down the stream...along with birds singing in the very pleasing to the senses!

    Today, the Hancock family influence remains unbroken with Seth Walker Hancock Jr. at the head who took over Claiborne this year (2015). He is the fourth in a line of Hancock men to take the helm.

    imageA shot from the stallion gravesite looking towards the Stallion Office on the left and the parking area where our tour group began to gather.

    The Claiborne Farm Brochure and personal notes taken during the tour.
  • Claiborne is another of those historic places with such a rich history! Can't wait til you share the stallions with us. I'm having so much fun on this trip - lol!
  • I hope it's not a disappointment, but we didn't get to see as many stallions at Claiborne as we did at WinStar...only three. :o(
  • Paniolo_GalPaniolo_Gal Member
    edited July 2015

    Adjacent to the Stallion Office is the burial ground of several legendary stallions. Below is a photo taken just before you enter this hallowed ground. The Courtyard is L-shaped with headstones starting from the left. This is followed along the longest length of the courtyard with a row of headstones extending to the right. Finally, along the perimeter of a corner section of the Claiborne Stallion Office, is another row of headstones ending with Secretariat. Secretariat is buried "whole", the greatest honor given to an outstanding stallion!

    imageTo the left in this photo (indicated with a white arrow) is the headstone of Swale, followed by Pulpit and Round Table. To the right in the photo (indicated with a yellow arrow) is the headstone of Secretariat.

    Swale (1981–1984):1984 Kentucky Derby & 1984 Belmont Stakes winner
    Pulpit (1994-2012): A Sire of Sires (Tapit, Sky Mesa, Corinthian, Lucky Pulpit & Stroll)
    Round Table (1954–1987): Leading sire 1972
    imageA trio of headstones for Swale, Pulpit and Round Table.

    imageAlong the length of this Courtyard is a row of eleven headstones of past legendary stallions...Starting from Sir Gallahad III on the left and ending with Herbager near the Stallion Office to the right.

    image Along the exterior walls of the Stallion Office is another row of 6 stallions-starting with Reviewer on the left and ending with Mr. Prospector at the pivotal corner of the Courtyard. Secretariat is perpendicular to Mr. Prospector. Secretariat faces the headstones of Swale, Pulpit and Round Table off the photo towards the right.

    Mr. Prospector (1970–1999): Leading sire 1987, 1988
    Secretariat (1970–1989): Leading Broodmare Sire in North America 1992
    imageThis is a close-up of the headstones of Mr. Prospector and Secretariat.


    Sir Gallahad III (1920–1949): Leading sire 1930, 1933, 1934, 1940
    Johnstown (1936–1950): No. 70 in the Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century
    image Sir Gallahad III
    image Johnstown
    Gallant Fox (1927–1954): No. 28 in the Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century
    Blenheim II (1927–1958): Leding Sire In North America (1941)
    image Gallant Fox
    image Blenheim
    Nasrullah (1940–1959): Leading sire 1955, 1956, 1959, 1960, 1962
    Princequillo (1940–1964): Leading sire 1957, 1958
    image Nasrullah
    image Princequillo
    Court Martial (1942-1966): Leading Sire in Great Britain & Ireland 1956 & 1957
    Bold Ruler (1954–1971): Leading sire 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967. 1968, 1969, 1973
    image Court Martial
    image Bold Ruler
    Double Jay (1944–1972): Leading broodmare sire in U.S., 1971, 1975, 1977, and 1981
    Ambiorix (1946–1975): Leading sire 1961
    image Double Jay
    image Ambiorix
    Herbager (1956-1976): 2nd in 1966 French Sires List. Top 5 of the USA Leading Sires 1971, 1972-1974
    image Herbager

    Reviewer (1966-1977): Sire of Ruffian
    Buckpasser (1963–1978): Leading Broodmare Sire 1983, 1984, 1988, 1989
    image Reviewer
    image Buckpasser
    Hoist The Flag (1968–1980): Leading Broodmare Sire in North America 1987
    Riva Ridge (1969–1985): Ranked No. 57 in the Top 100 U.S. Thoroughbred Champion of the 20th Century
    image Hoist The Flag
    image Riva Ridge
    Nijinsky II (1967–1992):Leading sire in GB & Ireland-1986 & North America Leading Broodmare Sire1993, 1994
    Mr. Prospector (1970–1999): Leading sire 1987, 1988
    image Nijinsky II
    image Mr. Prospector
    Lastly, a close-up of Secretariat's headstone...
    Pedigree Query & Wikipedia

  • KetaKeta Member
    I'm on the bus...can't wait for the tour.

    The first few entries will be of Gwen Reardon's beautiful bronze works of art. For the first day of exploring around on a tour bus, I'm still sorting and may need forum help to ID the area/farm. Bear with me. :oP
    Here is more information on Triangle Park.
    Triangle Park
    Three walking rings, representative of the Triple Crown races, are backed by limestone walls containing flowing flowers, trees and Reardon’s amazing bronze figures of two grooms, represent the backside, leading horses, and Bassett, his beloved Keeneland. In the first ring, a Hispanic groom leads a Thoroughbred. Leading another Thoroughbred in the center ring is Ted Bassett, wearing his trademark tassled loafers. A rearing horse, controlled by an African American groom, provides breath of excitement in the third walking ring.
    What a great Discussion! Thank you for sharing with us. Keta
  • Paniolo_GalPaniolo_Gal Member
    edited July 2015
    Thank you Keta!...For finding out who that distinguished gentleman featured in Reardon's bronze vignette at the "Paddock" when we first arrived at the Bluegrass Airport!

    Ted Bassett!
    Former President of Keeneland Association
    image Refer to the photos of the first entry of this
    thread on page 1.

    Here is Ted Bassett's background:
  • KMMKMM Member
    Did you move to Kentucky PG?:)
  • Paniolo_GalPaniolo_Gal Member
    edited July 2015

    A Walk Back In Time...
    Our Claiborne Farm tour guide was John who was tremendously knowledgeable in the Claiborne's history and the various aspect of breeding. He handles the operations at the Stallion Division. As we did a leisurely walk to the Breeding Shed, he reviewed the background and stats of this historic property. As mentioned earlier, Claiborne Farms in Paris, Kentucky had its beginnings in 1910 with Arthur B. Hancock. Today, Claiborne farms consists of 3,100 acres with 600 heads of horses.

    imageOur tour began with a relaxing walk along this path heading down to the breeding shed. It was refreshing to hear birds singing in the distance!

    There are 50 barns, 35 housing units for employees a resident Veterinarian and a large fleet of trucks, tractors, vans and equipment. Claiborne Farms employs 90 full-time staff members to handle various aspects of the farm. Many of the current staff are third generation Claiborne employees and actually grew up on this farm and have followed the footsteps of their parents! Foaling season begins around the 2nd week of January and extends to late May or early June. 25% of the horses are owned by Claiborne and the rest are client owned. To reserve a breeding session, owners of mares must make reservations by the fall of the year before.

    imageThe entrance to Claiborne's Breeding Shed. The origins of 22 Kentucky Derby winners, 19 Preakness winner, 22 Belmont winner and 6 of the 12 Triple Crown winners began here!

    This barn was originally an old tobacco Barn dating before the 1900s. Today, the footing in the breeding shed consists of artificial fibers and materials called Polytrack, the same material that was formerly used at Keeneland before they switched back to dirt. John our guide, allowed us to step into the Breeding Shed to get a "feel" of this surface which had a good resilient cushioning effect. Inside on the far end of the shed, was the ever present "mound" which allow shorter stallions to cover a taller mare. The taller mare is placed at the lower level of the breeding shed ground...from which the shorter stallion covers the mare while standing on the higher mound. There were no "high tech" equipment permanently set up in this room but that is the beauty of this historic breeding farm!

    imageInside the Breeding Shed. One of the more recent Kentucky Derby & Preakness winner conceived here was "Big Brown"! In addition, the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic winner, Blame began his existence in this barn as well!

    imageA close-up view of the fibers that make up the footing called "Polytrack". The materials consists of a mixture of silica sand, recycled synthetic fibers of carpet and spandex and recycled rubber/pvc. This mixture is coated with wax and provide excellent drainage as it does not absorb moisture.

    imageThe ever present element in breeding sheds, the "mound" used for breeding of mares and stallions of different heights.

    imageA close-up view of this change in level creating the "mound".

    Interesting related links:
    Back To The Shed: An account of taking a mare to be re-bred at Claiborne by War Front...
    An Interesting Link Regarding "Kindergarten"-Yearling Training at Claiborne Farms...

    imageA photo of the surrounding view near the Stallion Barn. To the right is one of the paddocks for the stallions. Based on the sequence of photos taken, I think it might have been the far left end of Secretariat's paddock that faces the Stallion Barn.

    imageSecretariat's paddock where he would challenge a race against Spectacular Bid in the adjoining paddock or just being full of himself running playfully in the paddock.

    Above: John pointed out this paddock used to be the stomping ground for Secretariat during his stay at Claiborne. I closed my eyes and used my imagination to visualize and hear Secretariat in all his glory running or grazing in this hallowed sent me back in time for a brief moment...replaying these videos below in my mind...

    Secretariat & Spectacular Bid @ Claiborne Farm:
    From YouTube

    Secretariat At Play:
    from YouTube

    Secretariat's last footage:
    From YouTube

    "The Immortal Secretariat" from vintage North American Horse Racing
    From YouTube

  • Gosh, how can the tears come after all these years?
  • Yes, they sure do.
  • Paniolo_Gal, you do such wonderful presentations - thank you! I remember walking into the breeding shed at Claiborne and being underwhelmed for a second or two but then thinking this is where Secretariat was conceived (not to mention so many other wonderful horses). If walls could talk...
  • Paniolo_GalPaniolo_Gal Member
    edited July 2015
    Just stepped back in...

    Thanks bigherbie! Glad you also got a chance to visit this historic farm so you can also relive your past experience with me! I know after seeing a modern, hi-tech breeding facility at WinStar, one can feel unimpressed with the "Old School" method in Claiborne's breeding shed...but as they say at Claiborne: "Doing the Usual, Unusually Well! :oD

    I kept closing my eyes and sent myself "back in time" to see/hear the wonders of these historic stallions. When I reached Secretariat's paddock...I imagined hearing his galloping hooves running across the paddock! This is a "magical place to visit"!
  • Paniolo_GalPaniolo_Gal Member
    edited July 2015
    imageThe trademark white with "Claiborne Orange" trimmed Stallion Barn.

    Above: Our tour guide led us to the one of the Stallion Barns which was painted a bright white with a sunflower yellow trim called the "Claiborne Orange". This was the home to many storied stallions like Secretariat. Bold Ruler, Easy Goer, Round Table, and the recently departed Pulpit among many other past champion racers and sires. You could feel the historic energy of these dynamic stallions walking through... "clip-clop, clip-clop" as they were being led back to their stall after a breeding appointment...or an occasional whinny in excitement during meal time!

    I imagined walking along side of these great stallions. Literally the stomping grounds of some of the greatest race warriors in TB history! Claiborne Farm housed literally the who's who of TB bloodlines!

    imageAs you entered the barn, the first stall on the left was the former home of past greatness: Unbridled, Easy Goer, Secretariat and his sire, Bold Ruler.

    imageThis is a close-up of the shiny nameplates on this historic stall door.

    image Further down this interior set of stalls were the name plates of Orb-Pulpit-Round Table.

    John led us inside through the center of the first Stallion Barn where we did a right turn around the corner to another shed row barn structure of exterior facing stalls. This was part of the stallion facility which faced the lush grassy paddock that used to be Secretariat's stomping grounds. Along this row of stalls were name plates: Mr. Prospector-Hoist The Flag, Horse Greeley-Nasrullah-Boundary, War Front-Princequillo-Herbager, First Samurai-Reviewer-Danzig-Ambiorix, and finally at the other end were the nameplates of Blame-Buckpasser-Devil's Bag.

    imageWe first approached this second stallion barn from the far right corner shown in this picture above. However, in reverse order In this photo, the first stall on the left currently houses Blame, then followed by First Samurai, War Front, Horse Greeley...and the last stall on the far right is the former home of Mr. Prospector & Hoist The Flag. I preferred these bright and airy exterior stalls.

    imageA close-up of the nameplates of Mr. Prospector & Hoist The Flag.

    imageA close-up of the nameplates of Horse Greeley, Nasrullah and Boundary. Note: on 7/13/15, Horse Greeley was sent to Argentina.

    imageA close-up of the nameplates of War Front, Princequillo and Herbager.

    imageA close-up of the nameplates of First Samurai, Reviewer, Danzig and Ambiorix.

    imageA close-up of the nameplates of Blame, Buckpasser and Devil's Bag.

    Claiborne's Past Stallions

    Trivia: Besides Secretariat...Nijinsky, Mr. Prospector, Round Table and Swale were buried "whole" at the Claiborne Farm property. Some headstones in the stallion grave site are symbolic and the actual grave is elsewhere on the property.

    An interesting 2010 article commemorating the 100 year anniversary of Claiborne Farm:


    imageJohn literally "carries the weight of Claiborne's 2015 Stallions on his back"!

    2015 Claiborne Stud Fees:
    Algorithms - $5,000
    Arch - $40,000
    Blame - $20,000
    Data Link - $7,500
    First Samurai - $15,000
    Flatter - $20,000
    Horse Greeley - $2,500*
    Orb - $25,000
    Stroll - $5,000
    Trappe Shot - $10,000
    War Front - $150,000
    *Horse Greeley was sent to Argentina at the end of the 2015 breeding season on 7/13/15.

    John, our guide explained to us that there are 3 basic aspects in determining when to retire a stallion.
    Fertility: (good fertility would be a reading above 80% motile sperm). If a stallion consistently falls below the minimum of 50-70% motile fertility then they are retired from stud duty.
    Age of the stallion: Intially, a young may not produce as much sperm as a more mature stallion. However, as a stallion enters his later years, their sperm count will begin to decline.
    Injury or health: If a stallion injures his pelvic or hind region, then it becomes very difficult for him to mount the mare. In addition, if a stallion is suffering from oral or digestive issues, that will decrease the ability for the stallion to get enough nutrition to produce sufficient, healthy sperm.

    Trivia on fertility:
    A stallion with larger testicles are generally more fertile than stallions with smaller testicles because they can produce a greater number of sperm per day.
    Sperm produced in the testes take almost 60 days to mature and be ready for ejaculation.

    John explained to us that when a stallion is unable to maintain fertility, they are retired and all are kept at the farm to live out the rest of their lives.

  • I was just thinking something, @Paniolo_Gal. Not sure when your trip was, but you can say you've not only been where many illustrious racehorses have been conceived, also but our beloved 14Z, and, hopefully 16Z! :)
  • I was just thinking something, @Paniolo_Gal. Not sure when your trip was, but you can say you've not only been where many illustrious racehorses have been conceived, also but our beloved 14Z, and, hopefully 16Z! :)
    I will elaborate on that in a later entry regarding Zenyatta's "Date" with War Front.
  • I was just thinking something, @Paniolo_Gal. Not sure when your trip was, but you can say you've not only been where many illustrious racehorses have been conceived, also but our beloved 14Z, and, hopefully 16Z! :)

    I will elaborate on that in a later entry regarding
    Zenyatta's "Date" with War Front.
    Great! :) I'm looking forward to it! :)
    At the first Stallion Barn, the barn that was the former home for Secretariat...John told us to wait outside as he was going to bring out one of the stallions. He hoped we would be happy with his choice...

    imageYou could hear the "clip-clop, clip-clop" coming from deep inside the Stallion Barn. After a few anxious moments...Surprise! John brought out a very stunning and handsome...Orb!

    ORB (2/24/2010)
    Pedigree: Malibu Moon (1997) x Lady Liberty (1999) by Unbridled (1987)
    Lifetime Earnings: $2,612,516 (12 starts: 5 wins, 0 place, 3 show)
    Background: In 2013 at age 3: won the Kentucky Derby (G1-10f), the Florida Derby (G1-9f), Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2-8.5f) and came in 3rd in the Belmont Stakes (G1-12f) as well as the Travers Stakes (G1-10f). He finished 4th as the favorite in the 2013 Preakness Stakes (G1).
    Entered Stud in 2014 at Claiborne Farm
    Current Claiborne Stud Fee: $25,000 (s/n)
    Height: 15.2hh
    Pedigree Chart:

    Although I couldn't get a "classic" head held high conformation pose with the rascally active Orb constantly playing with John, these are the best photos that turned out!

    imageOrb up close. Love his intelligent & playful eyes. Here Orb has grabbed the lead line in his mouth tugging at it to harass John.

    imageOrb humbly "bows" to his audience.

    imageI just love his shiny dark bay coat. It was rather difficult getting an unblurred shot of Orb as he kept nodding his head, play nipping John to get more peppermints.

    imageA frontal view showing his conformation and his head.

    imageA close-up of Orb's beautiful head and interesting star.

    imageJohn gently pats Orb on his head to keep him still and not reaching his head out for treats so we could get better photos of him.

    image ▲This is my favorite headshot of the photos taken of Orb.

  • He's not a very big boy at 15.2, is he? He's cute, though.
  • Orb is so cute! Doesn't have a lot of hardware on him, either.
  • He is adorable! And such a rich mahogany bay. I love that.
  • Paniolo_GalPaniolo_Gal Member
    edited July 2015
    Hey, Hey! I may not be big...but I beat the big boys in the Kentucky Derby, and put out a good finish in the Preakness as well as the Belmont! Not too shabby!

    Actually, under the Stallion On-Line Register I am currently listed at 16.1 hh. I must have grown some! :oD

    imageHere, one of our tour group member walks up to Orb and gives him some nice rubs and scratches on his withers, back and shoulders. We all impatiently waited behind to get our chance to pat and scratch Orb's shiny coat. Orb in the meantime was playing "I want-I want"..."nip n' tease" with John. Orb was a rascal who kept demanding peppermints!

    John commented that by giving Orb peppermint treats, he's no doubt encouraging Orb's naughty behavior of play nipping to get treats. It was a constant battle trying to get a conformation pose of Orb without his neck extended outwards pestering for more treats. As a first year stallion standing at stud, part of Orb's new role involves greeting Claiborne's visitors.

    image ▲Orb taunts John for a peppermint treat!

    image ▲John carefully unwraps a peppermint with Orb savoring his treat.

    image ▲I want! I want!

    image ▲This is the typical conformation pose we got of Orb...pestering John for more peppermints!

    image ▲Bye all...heading back to my stall.

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