Hermitage - Rich in History & Horses | July 2015
Updated: Oct 25, 2018
Thoroughbreds of all ages were on display at Hermitage Farm in Oldham County as members of the Agribusiness Industry Network recently visited one of the area’s pre-eminent racehorse boarding facilities.
Broodmares and their foals occupied rows of stables in three main barns on the historic property, and the visitors watched as workers led the mommas and their offspring out for their regular schedule of afternoon grazing.
Our host Melissa Cozart ticked off the pedigrees of the long-legged youngsters, with direct lineage tracing to a variety of top stallions, including Derby and Preakness contenders.
For the adult horses, Hermitage is mostly a girls-only farm, as the mares each year are transported for breeding to Bluegrass-area farms where the top stallions stand.
Foaling occurs mostly in late winter or early spring so the new foals can achieve maximum maturity prior to their first birthday, which for all thoroughbreds is Jan. 1.
Their maturity level, along with conformation and pedigree, are major determinants of value and potential when the prospective racers are sold at auction and/or placed in training.
Most of the mares at Hermitage are owned by clients of the farm, with just a handful belonging to the farm’s owners, Steve Wilson and Laura Lee Brown.
Wilson and Brown bought Hermitage in 2010 from Carl Pollard, who took over the operation in 1994. That followed a 60-year ownership by Warner and Harriet Jones under whose tutelage the 200-year-old farm became a pacesetter in the thoroughbred industry.
Jones is the only person to breed winners of the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks and Breeders Cup races. One of his yearlings Seattle Dancer set a Keeneland Yearling Sale price record of $13.1 million in 1985.
The farm, located near Goshen on U.S. Highway 42, sports miles of black plank fences and finely maintained grass pastures. The turf grass mixture is a blend of timothy and bluegrass, among other components, and is available for purchase as the Hermitage blend.
Although most famous for its work with thoroughbreds, Hermitage is also home to a major training operation for sport horses. Those breeds compete in a variety of dressage, cross country obstacle courses and trail events.
The farm hosts an annual 3-day event known as the Hermitage Classic, a top-level combined driving competition. Owner Steve Wilson competes there and in other competitions in Lexington and Florida, where he has scored top finishes in recent races.
For more information about Hermitage Farm, including its hosting of private parties and weddings and the history of the farm and main house, which dates to the 1830’s, visit hermitagefarm.com.
Gary Huddleston | AIN Chairman