Go “Out to Pasture” With Derby Winners

Chris O’Toole reminds us that even if you can’t make it to the Kentucky Derby this weekend, you can still go “out to pasture” and see champion stallions any time of the year.

Attention job hunters: If you’re an experienced racehorse with a few million in winnings under your saddle, consider a second career in bluegrass country. In Lexington, Kentucky, the track superstars of past Kentucky Derbies extend their rich-and-famous life style, earning six-figure stud fees as they sire future champions. Aside from the obvious romantic perks, they get to retire in the prettiest part of the state. There’s plenty of that famous fodder, and the local limestone supplies shimmering ponds of pure drinking water, used by humans to make bourbon and by racehorses to make strong bones. Want to visit Big Brown, Smarty Jones, and other legendary thoroughbreds? Come on down.
 
At Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Jen Roytz leads groups through barns with mahogany stalls more elegant than my first apartment (recall the horse-breeding scene in Tom Wolfe’s A Man in Full and you’ve got it right). The reservation-only tours continue through 1,500 acres, where each stallion has a private pasture.
 
At Three Chimneys, horse breeding is ultra-serious business; top stud Dynaformer commands a $150,000 fee for his services. (Don’t even think about petting his nose.) But drive scenic Old Frankfort Pike towards the city to the state-owned Kentucky Horse Park for plenty of kid-friendly attractions. Fifteen thousand horses compete annually at this year-round equine center, and daily public events include a Parade of Champions of past racing stars, horse-drawn tours, mare and foal shows and an excellent little museum. You can even camp on site. Just watch your step. 
 
Photo: A mare and her foal in the spring at Three Chimneys Farm, by Lee Thomas

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