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Blog Post- Sam Bergerson

Justify racing in the famous Winstar Farm silks
Justify racing in the famous Winstar Farm silks

Sunline Trust International Management Scholarship recipient Sam Bergerson updates us on his overseas experience: 

On to the final leg. Winstar Farm, Kentucky, America. After a 13 hour flight from Dublin to Chicago and then on to Lexington, I had arrived. 

Winstar farm is located on the outskirts of Versailles, Kentucky. Purchased in the year 2000, the growth and success of the farm in such a short period of time has been phenomenal. It is now comprised of over 2,700 acres and is home to a star-studded roster of 22 stallions in 2019, spearheaded by the likes of Tiznow, Distorted Humour, More Than Ready, Speightstown and the late Pioneerof the Nile. 

In 2010 Winstar won the Eclipse award for Outstanding Owner and in 2016 the Outstanding Breeder award. They are probably best known for owning 2018 Triple Crown Winner Justify. They also boast a Kentucky Derby winner(Super Saver, 2010), Belmont stakes winners (Creator, 2017, Drosselmeyer 2010) and a Breeders Cup Classic winner (Drosselmeyer, 2011), to name just a few of their stars. 

It is another farm where the facilities and stock are unbelievable with no expense spared for the wellbeing of their thoroughbreds.

For the majority of my time here I will be working with the yearling team, helping prepare them for the upcoming sales. Winstar have a total of around 110 yearlings this year. I have been placed in a colt barn of 20 with 3 others. The day begins at 6am where we clean our barn's stalls (muck out), feed, hay and waters. We then head around the farm between all the different barns in a group and bring all the yearlings in from the paddock, with all of them being thoroughly checked by the managers. 

All the colts are currently being brought in by a 'lip-chain' which wouldn't be common at all in New Zealand but gives you great control and means they are all pretty well-behaved. We then head back to our barn where we begin exercising all the yearlings either on the walker or by hand-walking. 

They will also swim once or twice a week depending on their condition and the stage of their preparation. 

All the horses are usually hosed off straight after working due to the heat and humidity here (it is normally 30°C plus and very humid). In the afternoon they are all groomed, followed by tidying up and feeding etc. for a 4pm finish. We then come back at 7pm when it is a bit cooler to turn them all out to their respective paddocks.

There is a large Mexican contingent working here so I have had to brush up on my Spanish. I'm still pretty terrible but am slowly getting a little bit better (I hope).

The impressive office and grounds at Winstar Farm
The impressive office and grounds at Winstar Farm

The July yearling sale at Fasig-Tipton in Lexington was on in my first few days here and luckily enough they let me wander round there on a couple of afternoons and have a look at another high-class venue. 

Here I also managed to catch up with previous Sunline Scholarship recipient Bevan Smith who is completing bloodstock work out here until the big Keeneland September sale. It's always good to see another Kiwi and we've caught up a few times in Lexington which has been great.

Thanks to another Sunline scholarship recipient, David Morris, I've also been doing a bit of pre-season training with the Lexington rugby team. It's been a good way to meet a few more people and keep busy. Hopefully I will be able to get a few games in before I have to jet home.

For the first time since embarking overseas I have a vehicle. It's been very weird getting used to driving on the other side of the road. The vehicles are all so big as well. In saying that everything's big here. America has definitely been a learning curve so far. It's hard to believe in a bit over a month I'm all done.



 

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