Prominent U.S. and Canadian owner-breeder Eugene Melnyk announced June 11 his retirement from the sport of horse racing, with his racing and breeding stock to be dispersed July 14 at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky in Lexington.
According to Fasig-Tipton, 10 mares, four weanlings, and five yearlings from the Melnyk dispersal will be cataloged in the July Selected Yearling Sale July 14 and 23 2-year-olds and approximately 30 horses of racing age will be offered at the Summer Selected Horses of Racing Age Sale the same day.
Melnyk, a pharmaceutical industry executive who entered the Thoroughbred industry 20 years ago, purchased the former Mockingbird Farm in Ocala, Fla., in 2001 and restored the 1,000-acre estate into a breeding and training facility under the name Winding Oaks Farm. A spokesman for Melnyk said the farm would also likely be sold.
"Mr. Melnyk will likely sell Winding Oaks Farm," spokesman Ken Villazor said. "In the interim and following the dispersal of his racing and breeding stock in July, the farm will be used as training center for other Thoroughbred owners and trainers."
"As a young boy who grew up watching and admiring the horses at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, it still remains very overwhelming to know how privileged and fortunate I have been to be part of such a wonderful and close knit community of people who share my passion for horses and the sport of horse racing," Melynk said a statement June 11. "None of my horse racing achievements would have been possible without my staff at Winding Oaks Farm and Melnyk Racing Stables who all know how deeply grateful I am for their dedication and commitment to our horses.
"While I will always remain a part of horse racing, I feel I have accomplished all that I set out to and now is a good time to step back from the sport. I came into this sport twenty years ago with plenty of dreams and I leave with a lifetime of memories."
Melnyk was honored with a Sovereign Award as Canada's outstanding breeder in 2009, and earned two Sovereign Awards as outstanding owner. In all, Melynk and Melnyk Racing Stables garnered no less than 13 Sovereign Awards. Melnyk was also voted National Owner of the Year by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association in 2005.
Among the top horses campaigned by Melnyk have been champion sprinter and sire Speightstown , Travers Stakes (gr. I) winner and sire Flower Alley, and additional grade I winners Tweedside, Sealy Hill, Bishop Court Hill, Harmony Lodge, Marley Vale, and Pool Land.
One of the first major milestones for Melnyk Racing Stables was a 1998 victory by Archers Bay in the Queen's Plate. Archers Bay and Lodge Hill both won the male Canadian Triple Crown.
He also campaigned two-time Canadian champion older horse Marchfield; multiple Canadian champion Roxy Gap; and Leigh Court, the champion Canadian 3-year-old filly of 2013. Sealy Hill was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame last August. Melnyk holds the distinction of being the first owner to win the Triple Tiara, the Canadian Triple Crown for fillies.
Melnyk's horses won a total of 62 graded stakes and his runners also won two Barbados Gold Cups.
In what was described as a change in his business model to reduce the emphasis on his breeding program, Melnyk sold 28 horses at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky winter mixed sale for $6,871,000.
In addition to his racing and breeding success, Melnyk was involved in many horse industry philanthropic endeavors and was founding donor of Anna House at Belmont Park. Named after Melnyk's first daughter, Anna House opened in January 2003 as the first child care facility of its kind at a North American racetrack. Anna House is open 365 days of the year and provides backstretch families with access to a high quality, state-of-the-art child care center focused on enhancing the emotional, social, and educational development of their children.