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Holly's Blog - October 2013

Holly Ross and her sister Laura visits Secretariat's grave at Claiborne Farm
Holly Ross and her sister Laura visits Secretariat's grave at Claiborne Farm

Keeneland September Yearling Sale

The Keeneland September Yearling Sale is the biggest yearling sale in the world, selling several thousand yearlings over a three week period. Being part of the Taylor Made team for the sale is definitely an experience with them consigning in excess of 300 horses throughout the duration of the big event.

My role for the sale was to be a sales person, a position I volunteered for as a way to meet new people. This position involved organising horses to be shown to clients as well as being up to date on the breeding and racing relevant to the horses family, therefore being able to answer any questions the client may have. It was a challenging but enjoyable task that I learnt a lot from.

Overall the sale was a success for Keeneland as well as Taylor Made, a good indication for the future of the American racing economy. A total of US$280 million was spent from buyers all around the globe with 18 yearlings selling for $1 million or more. MV Magnier of Coolmore purchased the top lot, a War Front colt for US$2.5 million. Taylor Made was the leading consigner selling 254 yearlings for just over US$31 Million with their top lot being a Tiznow half Sister to Winstar stallion Speightstown.

Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital

Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital
Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital

After spending a bit of time at the farm with the main Taylor Made vet and shareholder of Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital, Dr Bart Barber, I got the opportunity to visit the Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital whosefacilities are superior to any other equine hospital in the world. Dr Barber and his intern escorted me and another Taylor Made colleague around the establishment which was much bigger than I was expecting.

Services provided by the company include; surgery, internal medicine, podiatry center, ambulatory services, a reproduction centre, diagnostic imaging and a stem cell laboratory.

The complex includes 9 barns with 140 stalls for patients; each barn has specific nursing technicians and barn personnel which maintain very strict disinfectant and bio-security protocols.

Kentucky Farms
Whilst being based in Kentucky I had the pleasure of visiting a few of the other farms in the area.

Ashford Stud
Home of Coolmore, America Ashford stud is impressive. The stallion barn is one of the most impressive barns I have seen during my travels. When I went there a lot of the stallions had shuttled to another part of the world for the Southern Hemisphere breeding season but I was able to see several notable stallions including, Giants Causeway, Tale of the Cat and Majestic Warrior.

Three Chimneys
A friend I used to work with, who is currently employed by Three Chimneys, was kind enough to show me around the farm. Three Chimneys is another stunning bluegrass farm, immaculately groomed with the most beautifully designed barns. The stallion area was great with lots of little barns (looked like little cabins) scattered around the stallion complex. Three Chimneys is home to several nice stallions including 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown.

Claiborne Farm
Visiting Claiborne Farm was a highlight for me. Being well known as the home of legendary racehorse Secretariat, the farm possessed an incredible amount of history tracing back to some of the most well known bloodlines in modern-day breeding. What I liked about the farm is that the facilities are basic, although completely adequate, quite the contrary to a lot of the modern farms these days. While I was there I got to see the stalls and gravestones of horses including Secretariat (one of the greatest racehorses to ever live) great sire Mr Prospector, Danzig (top sire and known to me as the sire of Danehill). Also in the graveyard were Bold Ruler (Sire of Secretariat) and Round Table (one of the greatest turf horses in American racing history). Current stallions I saw while I was there included Arch, his son and Breeders' Cup Classic winner Blame, and popular sire at the moment War Front (yearling topped the Keeneland September Yearling sale for 2.5million). Pictured Holly with her sister Laura at Secretariats grave.

Winstar Farm
The picturesque Winstar Farm
The picturesque Winstar Farm

Completely opposite to Claiborne, the newly established (in 2000) Winstar Farm is one of the most visually impressive farms I have ever seen. The office (pictured left) is a gorgeous building on the side of the lake. The newly built stallion barn (pictured below) is amazing, a 'monstrosity' is the best way I can think of to describe it very visually impressive and very classy. Winstar is home to around 23 stallions, the most notable include: Tiznow, one of my favourite American stallions (great sire and two time winner of the Breeders' Cup Classic). Distorted Humor very successful sire (sire of Any Given Saturday and Funny Cide) whose stud fee reached $300,000 at one point before the financial climate made this price unrealistic. Speightstown (whose Tiznow half sister Taylor Made sold for 1.75million at the Keeneland September sale previously mentioned) and Super Saver, winner of the Kentucky Derby in 2009.
Winstar Farm
Winstar Farm

The end of the Keeneland Yearling Sale marks the end of my time at Taylor Made, and sadly the end of the Sunline Scholarship. Taylor Made Farm is one of the best farms I have worked for and they have an incredible future ahead of them. With the sad loss of stallion Unbridled's Song this season Taylor Made has purchased an interest in his successful son Graydar who will stand at Taylor Made during the 2014 breeding season.

Now that the scholarship is over I am enjoying some time traveling around the USA before heading back to New Zealand. I am currently in San Francisco after spending a weekend in the amazing New York City prior to which I was in the nation's capital Washington DC as well as Orlando in Florida.

To finish off this blog and the end of the scholarship I would like to thank New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders' Association and the Sunline Trust for giving me the opportunity of such an amazing journey. The places I have seen, the people I have met, and the knowledge I have gained throughout this scholarship have provided me with a learning experience so valuable for my future in the industry.

Finally a tribute to the legend herself Sunline, who this Scholarship is in honor of. The New Zealand-bred champion mare who was named NZ Horse Of The Year four times and Australian Horse of the Year three times, who won an impressive 13 Group 1 races in 3 different countries and in excess of $11 million dollars, is a story of phenomenal success. A story that every breeder, trainer and racing enthusiast is dreaming about creating themselves. Her legacy will always be remembered and honored in New Zealand racing and breeding history.

Farewell everyone, best wishes for your future endeavors
Holly Ross