And then he had a conversation with John W. Greathouse Sr.—one that would change his life forever.
“John Sr. was friends with my father. He came down and said to me, ‘What now?’ I didn’t have an answer,” Guy said with a laugh. “He asked me if I wanted to work at his farm. At the time I only had experience with cows, never horses. But he told me to come on up anyway to see if
I liked it.
“Thirty-five years later, I’m still here.”
Glencrest Farm near Midway, Ky., is the “here” to which Guy refers. A family-owned operation on 1,100 acres, Glencrest is a full-service facility that breeds, sells, and races Thoroughbreds. It was started by Greathouse Sr. in the 1950s and has been prominent on both the public auction and racing fronts ever since. Over the years Glencrest has bred several renowned horses, including 1960 Kentucky Derby winner Venetian Way. More recently, Glencrest silks have been worn by the riders of grade I winners Panty Raid and Honey Ryder.
Now in his 35th year as farm manager, Gene Guy is the man who runs it all.
“Gene is part of our family,” said David Greathouse, who operates the business end of Glencrest along with brothers John Jr., Allen, and Teddy. “There is simply no way that Glencrest could work without him. He is as reliable as they come; never misses a day of
work. He is the ultimate horseman.
“In the 35 years that Gene has been with us, there has never been a mare brought to Glencrest that hasn’t been bred. That is an amazing feat, and it is all due to Gene. He foals every horse for us.”
Like any farm manager, Gene works long hours, getting up at 4 a.m. to meet with the veterinarians and then going about his day. During foaling season, he is up all hours of the night.
“I do a lot, but I love it, “ said Guy, 50, who lives on the farm with his wife, Cathy, and daughter Carly. “Right now we have two stallions, 60 mares—plus 30 or 40 more boarders—38 yearlings, about 45 foals, and over 300 cows. The breeding operation takes up much of my time—teasing the mares in heat, foaling mares, checking all the mares in the breeding shed, and then raising the yearlings for sale. It’s a new challenge every day. There’s never a dull moment.”
Guy said the most rewarding part of his job is breeding the horses and then reading about them when they win at the racetrack. He said he can usually get a fairly accurate indication of how good a horse will be by watching it as a yearling.
“The ones that like to do a lot of running and are the leaders of the pack usually give you an indication that they will be good,” he said.
While hard work on a farm is not unique, what separates Guy from most other farm managers is the color of his skin. Guy is one of the few African-American farm managers in a primarily white industry. Although he admits being a black farm manager is rare, Guy said he has never been treated any differently because of it.
“As far as I’m concerned, it has not been a challenge. None of the people I work with see color,” Guy said. “I’m probably the only black (farm manager), but I’ve never encountered any problems. I’ve never felt like I didn’t belong.”
John Greathouse Jr. echoed those sentiments: “Gene is rare, but he is treated no differently than anyone else. He always has a lot of personality, he works hard seven days a week, and pretty much does everything outside the office. He likes horses and likes what he’s doing. That’s all that matters to us.”
Although he is now well into his fourth decade at Glencrest, Guy said he has no plans to go anywhere. In fact, he said part of his joy now comes from helping the third generation of Greathouses learn everything that he has over the years.
“John and David’s sons are training with me now,” Guy said. “It’s time for a new generation to start learning the business. I’m glad to be the one teaching them. The Greathouse family has been very good to me, and I appreciate everything. I definitely made the right decision coming here all those years ago.”