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Caring for Horses in the Cold - 1/23/2014
WLEX18 News
Watch the news report on WLEX18 News.

When the temperatures dip to below freezing many folks may start to worry about their horses, whether they are warm and if it's safe to keep them outside.

At the Stone Farm in Bourbon County, workers say it is best to let them stay outside and herd together for body heat. Keeping them in a stall by themselves actually works against keeping them warm.

"They will naturally herd together. They are herd animals and that generates a lot of body heat for them," says Paul King.

If they are not doing so well, King says to blanket them, but most seem to enjoy this season.

"We had about eight or nine fillies in the back field. It was really fun to watch them because it really appeared as though they were just having a blast playing in the snow."

King says while keeping horses warm may seem like the biggest concern, it is actually making sure they have enough food and water to get to that has been the issue. 

"When it gets this cold, we're looking at the water sources, even natural water sources, like spring-fed ponds. We had one freeze up yesterday and we actually had to bust a hole in it for the horses to get to," King said.

And as for the humans? "It's never going to get too cold for us to do what we do. We've got to do it. The horses are counting on us."

Breeding Review: Menifee Dominates Leading Sire Race in 2013 - 12/31/2013

Menifee retained his Leading Sire crown by a huge margin at the end of a year where his progeny have dominated once again.

Filly Speedy First, who landed a Korean Derby and Oaks double was Menifee’s chief money earner in a year where the Leading sire saw 14.2% of all his starters win.

Forest Camp got the closest to Menifee ahead of Vicar and the late Pico Central. Meanwhile, One Cool Cat just headed Peace Rules in the first-crop sire race. Those latter two will have their first foals reach 3-years-old in 2014.

Even more competition is on its way. Chapel Royal and Rock Hard Ten covered their first mares in 2013 while the end of the year saw Hansen make his way to Jeju.

Leading General Sires in Korea 2013
Prize Money in Korean won ($1=1055KRW) (Runners/Winners/Starts/Wins) Win %age – Leading Money Earner (Big Race wins)

1. Menifee (USA) 6,985,819,000 (131/67/760/108) 14.2% – Speedy First (Korean Derby/Oaks)
2. Forest Camp (USA) 4,904,203,000 (140/71/874/108) 12.4% – Sting Ray (KRA Cup Mile)
3. Vicar (USA) 4,550,712,000 (104/45/672/75 11.3% – Joy Lucky (Sports Seoul Cup)
4. Pico Central (BRZ) 3,910,888,000 (99/44/605/76) 12.6% – Major King (Minister’s Cup)
5. Volponi (USA) 3,904,000,000 (124/48/872/80) 9.2% – Cheongnyeong Busang (Breeders’ Cup)
6. Creek Cat (USA) 3,270,478,000 (106/46/565/71) 12.6% – High Five
7. Exploit (USA) 3,099,129,000 (124/35/771/57) 7.4% – Singgereounachim
8. Ecton Park (USA) 3,025,779,000 (57/31/342/54) 15.8% – Indie Band (President’s Cup, Grand Prix Stakes)
9. Ingrandire (JPN) 2,378,958,000 (51/14/346/31) 9.0% – Jigeum I Sungan (Owners’ Cup)
10. Yankee Victor (USA) 2,053,560,000 (87/28/504/41) 8.1% – Raon Morris (Gwacheon Mayor’s Cup)

Going to Town for Upperline - 11/07/2013
Courtesy of the Thoroughbred Daily News

One day after paying $1.5-million for Agave Kiss (Lion Heart) Monday night at the Fasig-Tipton November sale, Kiki and Louise Courtelis's Town and Country Farms were back in action to secure MGSW Upperline (Maria's Mon) for $1.75 million. A member of the Stone Farm consignment, Hip 262 was sold in foal to Claiborne's hot sire War Front.

"We were looking for a mare in foal to War Front and she is the one we liked the best," said Shannon Potter, representing Town and Country.

The 6-year-old mare was consigned by part-owner Stone Farm, who was also representing an ownership group that included John Adger.

"We are so happy she is going to this wonderful farm in Bourbon County," said Adger, who fielded numerous congratulatory wishes moments after the sale. "She has meant so much to all of us, including [Stone Farm's] Arthur [Hancock] and Mike [Stidham], who trained her and did an incredible job."

On day 1 of the November sale, Upperline's 5-year old half-sister Snow Fall (War Front) brought $735,000 from Don Alberto Corp.

"We know the mare, Snow Fall, sold for a lot of money in foal to Smart Strike [Tuesday], so we are very happy to get this mare," said Potter, who confirmed the mare would join Town and Country's 30-strong broodmare band. "She was a very nice racemare too, so that is basically the type of horse we're looking for."

Of the final price, Potter said, "The market has been strong, very strong, but we knew that was going to happen," he said. Although it was probably more than we wanted to pay, for sure. We didn't want to give that much, but we wanted that foal, so we'll see what happens. Now we got her, so let's sell that baby."

In addition to Tuesday's purchase of Agave Kiss, Town and Country also secured Amen Hallelujah (Montbrook) ($950,000); Tashzara (Ire) (Intikhab) ($775,000); and Beholden (Cat Thief) ($285,000). Town and Country's Wednesday expenditures were rounded out by Hip 369, Kiss the Lady (Quiet American), who was secured for $340,000.

Like A Rock...
Stonerside Stable purchased Group 1-placed Snowflake (Ire) (Caerleon) from Paul Shanahan and she was sent to trainer Ron McAnally for whom she placed in a pair of turf stakes Stateside. After joining the Stonerside broodmare band, she produced the aforementioned Snow Fall in 2008 before foaling Upperline the following season. Snow Fall, a $14,500 yearling at the Fasig-Tipton February sale in 2009, brought
$160,000 at Keeneland last November. Meanwhile, Upperline graduated over Arlington's Polytrack in July of 2009 before finishing a good third in the GII Golden Rod S. over the Churchill Downs dirt later that fall. Winner of the nine-furlong GIII Arlington Oaks at three, she added a trio of stakes the following season, including a pair of 1 1/16-mile events over the Fair Grounds lawn. In the money in seven of eight starts last season, she annexed the grassy GIII Bewitch S. over 12 panels and nine-furlong GIII Arlington Matron S. when returning to the synthetic. Third in the GI Spinster S. late in the year, she rounded out her career with a score in the 1 1/2-mile Dowager S. and earnings of $772,988.

"I was just telling the new owner that the mare is very unique," said Adger, who served as general manager of Stonerside for many years. "She won her first start going seven-eighths [on the Polytrack] at Arlington and won her last winning the 1 1/2-mile Dowager S. on the turf on t at Keeneland. She also ran well in the [GII] Golden Rod S. on dirt at Churchill Downs. She is very versatile. She was such a kind mare and tried every time."

Also offering plenty of praise on the attractive bay, co-owner and trainer Michael Stidham said, "She was really great to train and really has a lot of class. It's sad to lose her, but she is going to a great home."

Sunday Silence: The Star No One Wanted - 06/03/2013
Courtesy of Tom Pedulla, America’s Best Racing

Sunday Silence spent a lifetime in search of respect, on the track and in the breeding shed. In the end, he earned it.

“He was very good,” said Shug McGaughey, a Hall of Fame trainer who handled arch-rival Easy Goer. “I ran against him four times and he beat us three times. And I ran a pretty good horse at him.”

In the beginning, though, Sunday Silence was a colt no one wanted. He narrowly survived a virus as a weanling. Trainer Gary Jones once said his hind legs “were so crooked they looked like coat hangers.” Bill Christine, a sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times, described the same legs as being “shaped like parentheses.”

Arthur B. Hancock III tried to unload the unsightly youngster at the Keeneland yearling sale in 1987 only to buy him back for a mere $17,000. He later shipped him to Hollywood Park to make him available at an auction for unraced 2-year-olds. The presale reserve was set at $50,000; the bidding never came close. Hancock retained him for $32,000.

He took on partners and the decision was made to ship Sunday Silence back to Kentucky. He never made it. The driver suffered a fatal heart attack in Texas, and the van overturned. The horse somehow emerged unscathed and was returned to California to begin his career there for Charlie Whittingham, himself a Hall of Fame trainer.

Sunday Silence completed an inauspicious 2-year-old season with one victory in three starts.

“He was weedy in the beginning,” Hancock told the Los Angeles Times. “He reminded you of a skinny teenager.”

That skinny teen matured dramatically between two and three. Those hind legs still did not look like much, but boy could they move. He took an allowance race to begin his 3-year-old season and suddenly put himself front and center for the Kentucky Derby – and a much-anticipated confrontation with Easy Goer  – by sweeping the San Felipe Stakes and the Santa Anita Derby.

Virtually all of the pre-Derby hype surrounded Sunday Silence’s vaunted East Coast foe. “With Easy Goer being the 2-year-old champion, he had come in as the now horse, the next Secretariat,” Christine said.

When Sunday Silence bested Easy Goer by 2 ½ lengths in the run for the roses, the outcome was attributed to a muddy track at Churchill Downs. When Sunday Silence prevailed against Easy Goer by a nose after a scintillating Preakness stretch duel, most observers credited Pat Valenzuela with outriding Pat Day, who later admitted he would have done things differently. When Easy Goer denied his West Coast rival the Triple Crown with an eight-length romp at his home course in the Belmont Stakes, Sunday Silence’s critics rejoiced.

Christine saw it differently. “Easy Goer loved Belmont. It was his track and his day,” he said. “He really drubbed Sunday Silence, but that track had a lot to do with it.”

 2012 Breeding Round-Up: Menifee is Leading Sire in Korea - 01/01/2013
Courtesy of Horse Racing in Korea, blog.

Menifee has been crowned Leading Sire in Korea for 2012. The 15-year old, who had three crops of foals running this year saw his progeny amass nearly $3Million more than closest rival and the stallion who beat him last year by a matter of just a few thousand dollars, Exploit.

Menifee, who underwent potentially life-saving surgery earlier this year, was also by far and away the Leading Sire of two-year olds and looks set to comfortably retain his general sire title next year.

For the second straight year, Vicar finished in third place while Forest Camp was a new entrant to the top ten in fourth. Volponi improved to fifth ahead of former Leading Sire Creek Cat.

Eight of the top ten sires are US bred. Chapel Royal was one of a number of relatively well-known sires who made their way to Korea this year and will be expected to feature in this list in future. Among others were Sharp Humor and Rock Hard Ten. Already here and covering more mares than any other stallion in the past year is One Cool Cat while Officer, Whywhywhy and Aussie Delago Brom are not far behind. The Korean breeding industry is going from strength to strength.

Leading General Sires in Korea 2012

1. Menifee (USA) [Harlan] – 6,927,782 (742/126 – 17%) – Gyeongbudaero
2. Exploit (USA) [Storm Cat] – 4,037,501 (942/67 – 7.1%) – Singgeureounachim
3. Vicar (USA) [Wild Again] – 3,792,051 (582/78 – 13.4%) – Wonderful Namhae
4. Forest Camp (USA) [Deputy Minister] – 3,570,626 (563/86 – 15.3%) – Cheoneun
5. Volponi (USA) [Cryptoclearance] – 3,054,200 (769/62 – 8.1%) – Royal Active
6. Creek Cat (USA) [Storm Cat] – 2,950,704 (550/57 – 10/4%) – Tongjesa
7. Ingrandire (JPN) [White Muzzle] – 2,750,101 (419/51 – 12.2%) – Jigeum I Sungan
8. Pico Central (BRZ) [Spend A Buck] – 2,502,101 (378/58 – 15.3%) – Alpha Myeongjang
9. Ft. Stockton (USA) [Cure The Blues] – 2,234,095 (543/42 – 7.7%) – Cheonun
10. Concept Win (USA) [Manila] – 2,217,618 (518/45 – 8.7%) – King Fighting

Multiple Graded Stakes Winner Upperline to Retire to Stone Farm - 10/24/2012

The owners of 2012 Multiple Graded Stakes winner UPPERLINE (Maria's Mon - Snowflake, Caerleon) have made the unanimous decision to withdraw the 5-year-old-mare from the Nov. 5 Fasig-Tipton Select Sale in order to keep her in partnership as a broodmare. UPPERLINE, who placed in the Oct. 7 Spinster S.-G1 at Keeneland, most recently scored a game victory in the Rood and Riddle Dowager S. on Oct 21.

Partners Mike Stidham, John Adger, Jack Hodge and Arthur Hancock all agreed that, while UPPERLINE certainly has commercial appeal, she also has everything they could hope for in a broodmare prospect - ability, pedigree, class and conformation.

"She has given us so much of herself with her courageous performances on the race track that we decided we didn't want to let her go," said Stone Farm owner and partner Arthur Hancock. "Instead, we are looking forward to her promising career as a broodmare and to the foals she will produce!"

Bred by Stonerside Stable and trained by Michael Stidham, UPPERLINE raced four years and was graded stakes-placed at two, as well as being a stakes winner at three, four, and five. She won nine races and placed another nine times, including 15 stakes races, and has the unique distinction of having won her first start at 7 furlongs and her last start at 1 1/2 miles. In addition to the recent win at Keeneland, UPPERLINE's notable victories include the Arlington Matron S.-G3, the Bewitch S.-G3, and the Arlington Oaks-G3. She retires with earnings of $772,988.

UPPERLINE will arrive at Stone Farm in Paris, Kentucky, later this week.

Graded Stakes Winner Upperline Retired to Stone Farm - 10/25/2012
Courtesy of the Paulick Report

Multiple graded stakes winner Upperline, who captured the listed Rood & Riddle Dowager Stakes at Keeneland last weekend, has been retired by her connections.

Originally scheduled to be sold at the upcoming Fasig-Tipton November sale, owners Mike Stidham, John Adger, Jack Hodge, and Arthur B. Hancock III have decided to keep Upperline and have sent her to Hancock's Stone Farm near Paris, Ky.

The 5-year-old Upperline (Maria's Mon - Snowflake, by Caerleon) has won nine of 25 career starts, and has earnings of $772,988. In addition to the Dowager, Upperline notched victories in the Arlington Matron (gr. III), Arlington Oaks (gr. III), and Grey Goose Bewitch Stakes (gr. IIIT).

Forever Together, No Matter What, Arthur Hancock IV and a visit to Stone Farm - 01/02/2011
By Barbara Livingston
Courtesy of the Daily Racing Form

There is a comfort to a traditional horse farm, the type that lacks bells and whistles and chandeliers. The moment you step onto Stone Farm, with its touches accented with grey and yellow, you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. The farm’s simple motto: “We’re trying to raise you a good horse.”

When I visited last week with a friend, Arthur Hancock III and his son Arthur met us in the office. The older Arthur, who created the farm in 1970, is known far and wide not only for his horsemanship but also for his gift for storytelling. It didn’t take much goading for him to share a few tales of immortal horses he’d known such as Forli, Buckpasser, and a bold foal who grew up to be Fusaichi Pegasus.

He also discussed the farm’s method of introducing maiden mares to their new life as broodmares. Before maiden or barren mares are put together in a field, they are placed in stalls across from each other so they can ‘talk.’ Then they are put out together and eventually moved into fields with more mares.

We could have listened all day, but there were horses to see - two of George Strawbridge’s most accomplished mares. I’m a big fan of Mr. Strawbridge’s breeding program and have been honored to photograph some of his best mares, primarily at Derry Meeting Farm – including Annie Edge, First Approach, Reiko, Heartbreak, a cantankerous and amazing mare named Waya….

On this day, young Arthur was kind enough to assist us with No Matter What and Forever Together.

Broodmares are fascinating, although many people barely notice their names. A sire’s name is bandied about regularly. Handicappers talk knowingly about the brilliance of Elusive Qualitys or the ability of Broad Brushes to get a distance. But most mares seem mere words, in small font, listed after the stallions in programs and past performances.

Everything about No Matter What should be bold-faced. Bred by Arthur Hancock III and Stonerside Ltd., the daughter of Nureyev – Words of War won the Grade I Del Mar Oaks and a listed French stakes, while earning $185,726.  But No Matter What’s Grade I racing career was just a prelude. Now 13, she has already produced three stakes winners: millionaire Rainbow View (G1), Just as Well (G1) and Winter View (multiple graded stakes winner).

All of those Grade Is have seemingly left her difficult to impress. The farm staff had No Matter What beautifully prepared, and even her hooves were scrubbed clean. Her rounded body reflected a broodmare in foal, and her lovely feminine features were softened beneath a bright red winter coat. Her class and beauty were readily evident as they stood her up for a portrait.

But while she was very polite, she was as difficult to photograph as any I remember. It was nearly impossible to get her ears forward, although we tried everything we could imagine. No dice. In perhaps 15 minutes, she pivoted both ears forward only twice – and for only the briefest time. Usually, one ear – or both – stayed back.

We finally gave up and let her back into her paddock. With that, her ears propped forward and, with a light step, she eagerly jogged back to her paddock-mates. Soon joined by a dark bay friend, she burst into a relaxed gallop, and they quickly disappeared over the horizon.

Broodmare manager Jerry Hobbs, who has worked with No Matter What for several years, said of her lack of interest: “She’s a well-mannered horse, and it’s a pleasure taking care of her. But she just likes to eat and be with her friends.”

Forever Together, meanwhile, had been at the farm only a few weeks, having retired after the Breeders’ Cup. She and her new paddock friend, Extravaganza, were waiting in the barn. Forever Together was led out, and she was comfortable and responsive for portraits. Her 6-year-old body still shouted ‘racehorse,’ and her dapples and points were still rich and dark.

After formal shots, the assistant broodmare foreman Joey Littrell led Forever Together to an expansive paddock, while young Arthur partnered with Extravaganza.

I’d visited Forever Together nearly a year ago at Jonathan Sheppard’s Pennsylvania farm and been fascinated by how she clearly ruled her paddock. Informed Decision and two other paddock mates paid heed whenever she approached for, while she seemed innocent enough, she might suddenly pin her ears and pivot her powerful hind end their way. No one debated her superiority, at least the day I was there.

But such was not the case at Stone Farm. Extravaganza obviously had not read about Forever Together’s Breeders’ Cup victory, Eclipse Award or reputation for being quirky, or perhaps she simply felt her pedigree and record – the daughter of Elusive Quality had won at Keeneland in April – were worthy of respect.

When released together, they moved gingerly around the snow-crusted field, each carefully striding out on the slick footing. Forever Together occasionally pinned her ears, tossed her head and swung her hips toward the young bay. Extravaganza? She pinned her ears and offered her own backside, without ever really trying to connect.

When Forever Together couldn’t intimidate the filly, she instead approached me with mischief in her eyes. I waved my white flag immediately and backed away.

The mares quickly made peace and settled in to graze, and as they wandered around the large paddock seeking out the best browse, they stayed close to each other – like best buds. Fascinating animals. Blessed are the broodmares, indeed.

Despite the cold morning, the tall young Arthur helped with an unusually positive attitude and good nature. His handsome features, from sandy light hair to blue eyes to a strong jaw line, were nearly obscured beneath a large knit black hat. But his smile, showing clearly how he loved working on his family’s farm, was enviable.

Arthur, 24, is one of six children, and the only son, of Arthur III and his delightful wife Staci. Gato Del Sol won the Kentucky Derby three years before Arthur IV was born, and he was too young to remember Sunday Silence in 1989. He remembers crying when Menifee got beat in the 1999 Kentucky Derby, falling a head short in his drive to catch Charismatic. And he remembers, with laughter, the day a yearling bred by Stone Farm and Stonerside, later named Fusaichi Pegasus, sold at auction for $4 million.

“I remember sitting in the front row with a bunch of my friends, and freaking out when they hit $2 million and kept going,” he said. “I obviously didn’t appreciate it as much as I do now. I wish we could do it again, because now I understand the significance of it.”

He does seem to understand the significance of things in a manner belying his youth. But then again, his childhood was anything but ordinary.

“I think I was nine years old when I broke my arm in the foaling barn,” he said. “A mare started to foal and I ran to call someone, and I tripped over a chair and broke my arm. I used to watch mares from six at night till about ten, and do my homework there, when I was a kid.”

He smiled broadly recalling his time working with a bay yearling a few years back, a feisty daughter of No Matter What.

“Rainbow View and I used to have some good battles in the paddock. When you turned out the babies, she would drag people around in big circles. I was pretty good at holding onto the scrappy foals because I was still playing sports then. We had a lot of fun together,” he laughed.

Like his father and the rest of his family, Arthur is unusually grounded with a love of the land and the horses.

“I think we’ve all kind of lost touch, with cell phones and stuff, but not all people my age are crazy,” he said. “People are just unfocused. I live out in the country and try not to watch television. It’s been kind of tough to deal with as a young person, but the farm life is good, and the horses are good because (you know the saying): there’s something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”

Just before we left, he smiled and added, “Hopefully, one day I’ll be an old man full of quotes, like my Dad.”

Courtesy of the Thoroughbred Times Today
By Mike Curry

Forever Together, the 2008 champion turf female for owner Augustin Stable, has been retired to Stone Farm in Paris, Kentucky, after finishing sixth in the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1) on November 5 at Churchill Downs for trainer Jonathan Sheppard.

The six-year-old Belong to Me mare was beaten by two lengths in the Filly and Mare Turf, a race she won in 2008 to cement that year’s Eclipse Award for turf female. She amassed nine wins, five seconds, and seven thirds from 26 starts and earned $2,957,639 in five seasons.

“She went to Stone Farm a couple days ago,” said Barry Wiseman, assistant to Sheppard. “She only got beat four necks and a length last week.”

The gray or roan mare won graded stakes in Kentucky, California, New York, and Florida, and finished her career with four wins at the top level.

Bred in Kentucky by White Fox Farm, Forever Together is out of the Relaunch mare Constant Companion. She earned her first graded stakes win on dirt in the Forward Gal Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park in 2007 and subsequently finished second on the synthetic Polytrack surface at Keeneland Race Course in that year’s Stonerside Beaumont Stakes (G2). She won her turf debut in May 2008 in the Reluctant Guest Stakes at Arlington Park, and the rest, as they say, is history.

“Forever Together won right off the bat, but it wasn’t until we put her on the grass that she showed her true form,” Wiseman said. “She went to Chicago and won the Reluctant Guest with Earlie Fires and then ran third in the Just a Game [Stakes (G1)]. After that race, [Sheppard] said, ‘I think we can go places with this filly.’ ” In addition to the Filly and Mare Turf, her other Grade 1 wins came in the 2008 and 2009 Diana Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course and the 2008 First Lady Stakes (G1) at Keeneland.

Champion Forever Together Retired - 11/15/2010
Courtesy of the Blood-Horse

Forever Together, who was voted the 2008 champion turf female after winning the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT), has been retired from racing to become a broodmare for owner George Strawbridge Jr.

The 6-year-old daughter of Belong to Me is boarded at Arthur B. Hancock III’s Stone Farm near Paris, Ky., and will be bred to Smart Strike . When bred to Belong to Me mares, Smart Strike has sired this year’s leading 3-year-old male Lookin At Lucky and 2010 grade II winner Papa Clem.

Campaigned by Strawbridge’s Augustin Stable and trained by Jonathan Sheppard, Forever Together was a two-time stakes winner on the dirt before she embarked on a career on the grass. She won her first three races, including the Forward Gal Stakes (gr. II), and then was beaten a neck in the Stonerside Beaumont Stakes (gr. II). After losing her next four starts, she was switched to the turf and promptly won the Reluctant Guest Stakes the year of her championship. Forever Together also captured the First Lady Stakes (gr. IT) and the first of two consecutive runnings of the Diana Stakes (gr. IT) leading up to her victory in the Filly & Mare Turf.

Forever Together went winless in six starts this year but managed to place in four graded stakes. She finished sixth in this year’s Filly & Mare Turf but was beaten just two lengths. She was retired with nine wins and a dozen placings from 26 starts and earnings of $2,957,639.

White Fox Farm is the breeder of Kentucky-bred Forever Together, whose dam, Constant Companion (by Relaunch), is a half sister to four stakes winners and three stakes producers, including the dam of grade II winner and successful sire Broken Vow.

Reading Room Memories August 3, 2010
Saratoga Special
by Katie Bo Williams

You may think this is the story. Arthur Hancock offers a full brother to Arthur’s Tale, a 2-year-old colt who finished a green but promising fifth in a Saratoga maiden Saturday. The colt is a half-brother to War Hoot (War Chant) and Senada (Pulpit), both successful in the ring and on the racecourse. The son of Stone Farm’s Owsley is part of Hancock’s usual selective quality consignment.

Hancock will tell you about the horse, the family, the marketplace. But he’d rather tell stories.
>>READ MORE in .pdf format

Foal to Finish Line - 04/2006
Excerpt courtesy of Louisville Magazine

... For nearly a century, the Hancock family has been an American institution, its name as synonymous with the Thoroughbred industry as Kentucky bluegrass. Under the auspices of second-generation horseman Arthur B. Hancock Sr. and his son, A.B. “Bull” Hancock, well over 200 stakes winners and numerous national champions were bred, born and raised at the family’s historic Claiborne Farm in Paris, but none of them — despite the two men’s dedicated efforts — ever carried the Hancock colors to a Kentucky Derby victory. (Hancock Sr. did breed 1939 Derby winner Johnstown, and another, Jet Pilot in ’47, he bred in partnership, but both horses raced for different owners.)

Arthur B. Hancock III with 1982 homebred Derby winner Gato Del Sol, now 27, at Hancock’s Stone Farm.

It wasn’t until 1982 that a Hancock homebred, a gray colt named Gato Del Sol, managed to reach the Derby summit. Since then, few breeders have been able to rival the achievements, especially on the Derby front, of Kentuckian Arthur B. Hancock III. Gato Del Sol, age 27, still resides at Hancock’s Stone Farm in Paris, which through the last quarter-century has also been the birthplace of popular Derby heroes Sunday Silence and Fusaichi Pegasus, runners-up Strodes Creek and Menifee, plus Risen Star, a winner of the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. (Fusaichi Pegasus was sold as a yearling and Risen Star as a two-year-old.) Breeding with the Derby in mind is a goal that cannot be oversimplified, but according to Hancock, it is still feasible. Although there are no guarantees — “Anything can happen in this game,” he says — certain fundamentals can at least put aspirants in position to obtain a Derby-caliber runner. Foremost among them is the careful selection of mates.

“The first thing to do is to breed them right. You need to consider the pedigrees,” Hancock begins. “A lot of people today are breeding for speed. It seems like they’re more commercial at the sales. But if you’re trying to breed a horse to win the Derby, the first prerequisite is to make sure that you have a sire that could get a mile and a quarter, a mile and a half, and a dam with some stamina, too. You’ve got to have that. What you want to do is maximize their genetic potential.”

There is more to the equation, however, than bloodlines alone.

“You’ve got to get them all grown up in one piece,” Hancock continues. “Being a good farmer is an art. Like we say, if you take care of the land, the land’ll take care of you, and if you take care of your horses, your horses will take care of you. I believe in that.”

To that end, Stone Farm provides its foals with the optimal conditions for success, from its quiet, spacious fields right down to the hay they eat and the well water they drink. The underpinnings of the Stone program, Hancock emphasizes, are the farm staff, whose painstaking care and commitment are essential in molding the impressionable youngsters of today into the Gato Del Sols, the Risen Stars, and the Sunday Silences of tomorrow. From there, however, the balance of the journey rests in fate’s hands.

“You’ve got to have good luck,” Hancock confesses. “There’s been other horses that we’ve done the same thing with who didn’t do a damned thing, but that happens. If you do all those things right, you’re going to have certainly disappointments, but then you’re going to come up hopefully with that one that makes it all worthwhile.”

To read this article in its entirety, click here.