Stone Farm: For half of a century.
If you take care of the land,
the land will take care of you.
We’re trying to raise you a good horse.
We sell only what we raise.
Capt. Richard Hancock was invited to attend the races at Pimlico in Maryland and was struck by a horse named Eolus.
That colt, and Hancock’s determination to purchase him, helped nudge the destinies of the family into Thoroughbred racing. Capt. Hancock had come to be a resident of Virginia by a route involving a war story. The Alabama native was injured while in the service of Stonewall Jackson during the Civil War, and eventually married into the family which found him and nursed him back to health.
In due course, Capt. Hancock thus became head of that family’s farm, Ellerslie. Although it took him five years to acquire Eolus, once he did so the horse fulfilled Hancock’s ambitions. Eolus sired Knight of Ellerslie, which won the 1884 Preakness Stakes for Hancock and a partner.
Arthur B. Hancock Sr., the son which followed Capt. Richard Hancock into the Thoroughbred business, married Nancy Clay of Kentucky in 1908. Two years later, the young Mrs. Hancock inherited a large tract of verdant farm land in Kentucky. Arthur B. Hancock Sr. ran both Ellerslie and the Kentucky farm, but chose to move to the new tract, which he and his wife gave the name of Claiborne. The Kentucky farm soon became a leader in the Thoroughbred industry as A. B. Sr. employed a combination of horsemanship, business acumen, and pedigree knowledge to acquire such stallions as Celt, Wrack, Sir Gallahad III, and Blenheim II. At the same time, he attracted staunch members of the Turf as his clientele. Among them was William Woodward Sr., who bred Triple Crown winners Gallant Fox and Omaha from the broodmare band he boarded at Claiborne.
The succession of Claiborne leadership to A. B. Sr.’s son, Arthur B. (Bull) Hancock Jr., was hastened by health issues of the older man. By the mid 1940s, A. B. Jr. was activating his own talents in the stamp of his father. Bull Hancock looked abroad for the right type of stallion for the American sale market and race track, and his acquisition of Nasrullah landed a future breed shaper at Claiborne at the dawn of the 1950s. Hancock arranged a partnership in annual crops of Claiborne-breds with William Haggin Perry. This arrangement produced reliable income to run the farm while still maintaining an interest for the racing careers of such champions as Moccasin, Lamb Chop, and Gamely. At the same time, Hancock earned the ongoing confidence of other important clients; the Phippses bred and then returned to Claiborne the likes of eight-time leading sire Bold Ruler and Horse of the Year Buckpasser. Under Bull Hancock, Claiborne added four years as champion breeder to the five titles earned under A. B. Sr.
Arthur B. Hancock III leased and began operating Stone Farm, a 100-acre property which was then owned by his family’s Claiborne Farm.
That spring, the first stakes winner bred by Hancock was foaled on that property.
Arthur Hancock had experienced some success from the small number of broodmares that were in his care at the fledging Stone Farm.
“Bull” Hancock passed away in September, and by the end of the year, Arthur had moved to Stone Farm full time and purchased the land.
Stakes winner Cabin became the first stallion to stand at Stone Farm. He was owned by New York businessman Leone J. Peters, who was to become a long-time Stone Farm client and partner.
Cabin was one of a number of stallions who stood at the farm over the years. They included a Kentucky Derby-G1 winner, a Breeders’ Cup Classic-G1 winner, as well as a two-time Leading Sire.
Arthur Hancock married horsewoman Staci Worthington, who became not only a partner in their marriage but on the farm as well. Over the next ten years, their family grew with 6 children.
The Hancocks purchased a 1,200 acre parcel of undeveloped, fresh land which is now the heart of the Stone Farm property.
Stone Farm-raised Ida Delia and Hawaiian Sound became the first two Grade/Group 1 winners to represent the farm.
Ida Delia was raised for Oregon lumberman and client Aaron Jones and won her Grade 1 in the U.S. Hawaiian Sound, bred, raised, and sold by Arthur Hancock, posted his Group 1 win in England. Racing for Robert Sangster in partnership with Hancock and Leone Peters, Hawaiian Sound also became the first Classic Horse raised at the farm with a second-place finish (by only a nose) in the Epsom Derby.
Tap Shoes was bred and raced by Arthur Hancock with Leone Peters. Trained by Horatio Luro, Tap Shoes put together a three-race winning streak as a 2-year-old in 1980 that nearly earned him a Championship. He came back as a 3-year-old to win the Flamingo S.-G1 and Peter Pan S.-G3 for trainer Horatio Luro.
Houston oil man Tom Tatham purchased subsequent G1 winner Treizieme as a weanling for $500,000 and sent the filly to Stone Farm prior to her racing career. The farm’s association with Tatham and Oak Cliff Breeders marked the beginning of great things to come.
A red letter year for Stone Farm…
Gato Del Sol, bred and raced by Arthur Hancock and Leone Peters, became the first Kentucky Derby-G1 winner and the first Classic winner to represent Stone Farm. The victory also marked the first Kentucky Derby win as an owner for a member of the Hancock family.
Meanwhile, Lemhi Gold became the farm’s first Champion. Raised for Aaron Jones, Lemhi Gold had dominated the handicap ranks that fall and earned the Eclipse Award as Champion Older Male.
Leading Sire of 1983 was Halo, in large part due to his Kentucky Derby-G1 winning son Sunny’s Halo and Champion Juvenile Colt Devil’s Bag. Tom Tatham purchased the 15-year-old stallion and relocated him from Maryland to Stone Farm.
Halo went on to be the nation’s Leading Sire again in 1989 and had a long, successful career. He died at the farm at the age of 31.
Tiffany Lass, another superstar raised for Aaron Jones, became the first Kentucky Oaks-G1 winner to represent the farm. A daughter of Stone Farm stallion Bold Forbes, she was undefeated that year and earned the Eclipse Award as Champion 3YO Filly.
4-year-old Skywalker was bred and raced by Tom Tatham’s Oak Cliff Breeders. With his determined victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic-G1, he became the first Breeders’ Cup winner raised at the farm. He also was stood at Stone Farm after his racing career.
Another Hancock and Peters standout emerged in the form of Risen Star. A strapping son of Secretariat, Risen Star won both the Preakness S.-G1 and Belmont S.-G1 – the latter by nearly 15 lengths, and placed in the Kentucky Derby-G1.Those performances earned him the Eclipse Award for Champion 3YO Male.
Meanwhile, Arthur Hancock had privately purchased a daughter of Stone Farm stallion Halo. Named Goodbye Halo, she raced for Hancock and Alex Campbell Jr. and was a top notch 2-year-old in 1987. At three, she won FOUR Graded races, including the Kentucky Oaks-G1.
Sunday Silence was certainly the horse of a lifetime.
A son of Halo bred by Tom Tatham, he was consigned to the Keeneland yearling sale and bought by Arthur Hancock who sent the colt to legendary trainer Charlie Whittingham. Sunday Silence won the Kentucky Derby-G1, Preakness S.-G1, and Breeders’ Cup Classic-G1 en route to being named Horse of the Year and Champion 3YO Male.
Goodbye Halo had another Grade 1 year. Her success, along with the accomplishments of Sunday Silence, propelled their sire Halo to the top of the sire standings. It marked the second time the Stone Farm stallion topped the General Sire List.
In the early 1990s, Arthur Hancock partnered with Bob McNair, a businessman and future owner of the Houston Texans. One of their early successes was Strodes Creek, a son of Halo who was runner-up in the Kentucky Derby-G1 and placed in the Belmont S.-G1.
Later that year, Hancock and McNair purchased the Danzig mare Angel Fever for $500,000. In 1998, her colt by Mr. Prospector sold for sales-topping $4 million in the Keeneland July yearling sale.
Stone Farm-raised Harlan won the Vosburgh S.-G1 for Hancock and partner W. T. Young. The son of Storm Cat retired to stud at Stone Farm. He died prematurely, but has left his mark on the breed through his successful sons and grandsons, including Harlan’s Holiday and Into Mischief.
Menifee, a son of Stone Farm stallion Harlan, propelled Stone Farm and partner James H. Stone back into the Kentucky Derby picture. Winner of the Blue Grass S.-G1, the crowd-favored Menifee was runner-up in both the Kentucky Derby-G1 and Preakness S.-G1.
Menifee’s dam, Anne Campbell, was honored as the Broodmare of the Year by the Kentucky Thoroughbred Breeders. In addition to Menifee, she produced four other stakes horses, two stakes winners, including three-time Grade 1 winner Desert Wine. She died at 28 and is buried at the farm.
The $4 million sales yearling bred and sold by Arthur Hancock and Bob McNair was Fusaichi Pegasus, and at the turn of the century he put together an impressive winning streak that culminated with a victory in the Kentucky Derby-G1. He became the third horse raised at Stone Farm to win the Run for the Roses.
Hancock and McNair were also the breeders of Grade 1 winning filly No Matter What. She had been purchased at auction and raced for a George Strawbridge’s Augustin Stable.
Foaled and raised at Stone Farm for owner/breeder George Strawbridge in 2006, Rainbow View went undefeated in four starts as a juvenile overseas. Trained by John Gosden, Rainbow View was named Champion 2YO Filly in England.
A banner year!
Stone Farm had four indiviudal stakes winners in the 2014 crop, which represents 10% of the farm’s foal crop that year.
Those stakes winners include Grade 1 winning standouts Bricks and Mortar and Mastery.
Bred, raised, and sold by Stone Farm, Air Force Blue established himself as the best juvenile in Europe thanks to three Group 1 victories.
Named Europe’s Champion 2YO Colt, Air Force Blue raced for Coolmore and has the distinction of being the highest weighted 2YO ever trained by Aidan O’Brien.
Bred and sold by George Strawbridge, Bricks and Mortar went undefeated in six starts (five Grade 1s). A finalist in the balloting for Horse of the Year, he notched another Breeders’ Cup victory for Stone Farm-raised runners with his win in the Breeders’ Cup Turf-G1.
A yearling raised at Stone Farm topped the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale. The son of Curlin consigned by Stone Farm brought $1.5 million for chef Bobby Flay.
Sunday Silence was Leading Broodmare Sire of the year with 14 stakes winners and earnings of nearly $24 million to his credit.