August 23, 2019
Interior of one of the luxurious stallion stalls with sloping walls and built-in vacuum cleaner in each stall.
Attendees at the Masters of Foxhounds seminar in Lexington, KY in April had the opportunity to visit one of the area’s top Throughbred breeding farms, Gainesway, and see live breeding with two of the farm’s stallions. Ginny Howard, wife of Neil Howard who is general manager of Gainesway, was the tour guide. Mrs. Howard hunts with the Woodford Hunt in Kentucky.
Residing at Gainesway is the gray stallion Tapit, 2001 - the number one stallion in the U.S. He has sired three Kentucky Derby hopefuls. His stud fee is $150,000. Another stallion standing at Gainesway is Birdstone, bay, 2001, sire of Mine That Bird, the 2009 winner of the Kentucky Derby at 50 to 1 odds. Recently the movie about Mine That Bird, “50 to 1” premiered in Tennessee. His stud fee is $10,000. Another stallion at Gainesway is To Honor And Serve, bay, 2008. His stud fee is $20,000. He was a graded stakes winner at ages 2, 3, and 4, with exceptional speed. At 4, he won the Woodward Stakes, defeating 2013 breeders’ Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man.
Gainesway is 1500 acres of the former Greentree and Whitney farms combined, now owned by the Beck family from South Africa. Since 1913 the farm has been producing Thoroughbreds.
Gainesway was formed by John R. Gaines, the man behind the Breeders Cup, who bought a 500-acre parcel from his neighbor Harry Payne Whitney in 1966. [Readers may recall the connection of Harry Payne Whitney to his hunting home in Hickory Valley, TN.] Gaines had 45 stallions standing there in 1980s.
In 1989 South African horseman Graham Beck purchased the Gaines farm plus the parcel belonging to Payne Whitney’s Greentree Stud. He and his son Antony, President of Gainesway, “put all the farm back together,” said tour guide Ginny Howard, and are carrying on the Gainesway Thoroughbred breeding tradition. Now the farm is a full service facility, offering year round boarding for mares and foals, breeding and stallion services, and sales services. They mainly sell yearlings; this year’s sales totaled about $50 million. Howard explained that they serve as their own sales agent, as well as acting agent for other sellers. In past, Throughbreds were owned by syndications with about 40 shares. But the bottom fell out of the market and now most of the horses are owned by partnerships, she said.
Gainesway takes pride in maintaining luxurious pastures for its horses. Yearly soil samples are taken to ensure that the land continues to offer the necessary nutrients for optimal growth and health. In addition, Gainesway has been designated a registered arboretum by the American Public Garden Association, with countless colorful plantings and a magnificent tree collection maintained by a full-time staff of horticultural experts. The farm boasts more than 45 different species of oak, including an Oglethorpe and a California Oak.
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