Friday, January 31, 2020

Visiting the Farms in Kentucky Horse Country

Planning a visit to the Lexington, Kentucky "Horse Country" is a must for any horse lover.  I wish I had started this annual trek years ago.  If you have never been plan your trip now and you'll be going back again and again, I promise. The best place to start is this website, Horse Country, which offers many farm bookings for a nominal fee. Hotels are plentiful and relatively inexpensive most of the year (avoid Rolex in late April and a few other key weekends).  The Lexington airport is almost right in the middle of the town, very well located close to Keeneland. Nothing is too far away. 

Many of the horse farms offer tours to the general public as a way to promote the sport, extend good will and to show off their famous stallions. I was amazed how much access you are allowed and the extent to which the farms go to us "little people."  And it is very inexpensive, typically $20 per person for a good two-hour tour. Wear warm comfortable clothes, good walking shoes (no high heels, thick soled boots are best, or even tennis shoes).  Take your camera/phone.

I've been to Darley, Winstar, Coolmore, Gainesway and Taylor Made and a trip to Three Chimneys is planned for the spring.  On my wish list are a second visit to Coolmore (to see Justify), Claiborne (to see War Front and Secretariat's grave) and to Lane's End where there is a treasure trove of great stallions right now.  I'd also like to see Curlin who stands at Hillandale.  I'd also love to visit Calumet just to see the farm.

(Pioneer of the Nile at Winstar)

Each farm is different and I don't have a favorite but I thought I'd died and gone to heaven when I saw American Pharoah up close and personal. Coolmore is fabulous, all the barns are stone and I've never walked on so much rubber brick pavers anywhere.  The stallion roster there is hard to beat - we saw American Pharoah, Uncle Mo, Shanghai Bobby, Fusaichi Pegasus and Giants Causeway among others (who recently passed away).  The stallions change over time - some of the stallions I saw at Winstar and Coolmore are no longer there.

 (Frosted at Darley)

 (California Chrome)

 (California Chrome)

(The sign on Giants Causeway's stall door at Coolmore)

At Gainesway we went primarily to see the famous Tapit.  I was surprised how small he is - maybe 16 hands.

Winstar was the first farm we ever visited and they did not disappoint.  Their stallion roster is quite impressive and I was amazed that they allowed us to feed the famous Pioneer of the Nile peppermints (he died recently and is the sire of American Pharoah).  Tiznow laid down in his stall much of the time.

At Taylor Made we were able to see the famous California Chrome up front and personal and I am so glad we did now that he has been sold to Japan. They have tons of babies too and their fields were teaming with tiny colts and fillies when we were there last April.

At Darley we saw their famous stallions - Nyquist, Street Sense, Medalia D'Oro, Animal Kingdom, Frosted (he is absolutely gorgeous) and then they took us over to their foaling barn to see many new foals. It was quite an experience - a two for one if you will - and I would highly recommend this tour.  They also gave us hats at the end with the horses' names - we got Frosted and Animal Kingdom.

The great Medaglia D'Oro had an abcess the day we were at Darley.  I feel so much better now knowing that these horses who have the best care on the planet can also get abcesses!

(Revolutionary at Winstar)

 (Super stallion Tapit at Gainesway)

 (American Pharoah)

 (Tiznow - the only horse to win back-to-back Breeder's Cup Classics)

(The late Distorted Humor - one of the best broodmare sires of all time)

Plan your trip.  I promise you'll love it!


  1. Have you read the book "Wild Ride" about Calumet?
    Great book. Horrifying story about greed and leveraging seasons/breeding.


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