David Hager, owner of Idle Hour Farm near Paris, Ky., and an active supporter of the Kentucky Thoroughbred industry for many years, has been named Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers’ Club Farm Manager of the Year for 2009. Hager will be honored at the annual KTFMC dinner Oct. 16 at The Red Mile in Lexington.
Hager has been farm manager at Idle Hour since 1981 and inherited the now 184-acre property in 1989 from his aunt, Margaret Rogers, who founded the farm in the 1950s. Hager was president of the KTFMC in 1999.
“This is a huge honor, especially coming from my peers,” said Hager. “I would have never thought I’d be included with the high-caliber people who have won Farm Manager of the Year in the past.”
Hager is involved in all aspects of the multi-faceted Idle Hour operation, which serves mainly as a commercial breeding business. Hager says he also relies heavily on his assistant manager, Kelly Jackson. Idle Hour bred 42 mares this year and has between 80-100 horses at the farm.
“We’re mainly commercial but we will occasionally race horses,” said Hager, who sold more than 270 acres of Idle Hour in the past few years. “I guess you would classify us a boutique type of operation. But we just like to say that we raise really good racehorses, and people in the industry know that. Through July, we bred 23% stakes winners to our starters.”
Recently, Hager has begun to focus more on his bloodstock work while downsizing Idle Hour.
“I really enjoy helping people find mares. It’s a lot of fun,” he said.
When he’s not tending to Idle Hour operations, Hager is a tireless advocate for the Kentucky Thoroughbred industry, as he can often be found in Frankfort, Ky., fighting for his fellow horsemen. From 1993-2000, he served separate stints as the KTFMC chairman, treasurer, president, and was on the board of directors.
One of Hager’s most notable achievements was to spearhead the movement for the Kentucky Breeders’ Incentive Fund. Hager proposed the idea at a 2003 KTFMC meeting and saw the idea through until it was implemented in 2006. Efforts like that have not gone unnoticed by his peers.
“David is a great guy in so many ways,” said KTFMC president Matt Koch. “He has been instrumental in rewriting many of the Farm Managers by-laws and always seems to be at the forefront of the important matters in the industry. He’s always looking out for everyone else.”
Hager is married to his wife, Betsy, who works as the office manager at Castleton Lyons farm near Lexington. They have three children.