The Southern California real estate boom has claimed Mira Loma Thoroughbred Farm, which is shutting down operation at the end of July, farm manager and part owner Joe Valenti said.
Valenti confirmed that the 110-acre jewel -- located 37 miles southeast of Santa Anita Park off the Interstate 15 corridor on the western edge of Riverside County -- is being sold for industrial development. Valenti, who took over management of Mira Loma from his father Pete, declined further comment other than to say he hoped to return to the breeding business.
A second major Thoroughbred breeding operation in California -- Alex Trebek's Creston Farm near Paso Robles in Santa Barbara County -- has also been sold, with the 700-acre site set to change hands with the closing of escrow Aug. 1. A spokesman said Creston would remain a breeding farm for the time being, but would eventually be developed for housing. The 64-year-old Trebek, famous as the host of the television game show "Jeopardy," has owned the property for less than 10 years.
Pete Valenti and partners purchased Mira Loma from Verne Winchell in 1977. With its sparkling white fences and white barns trimmed in red, Valenti called it "Little Calumet." A landmark off Interstate 15, it has been home to 350 to 400 horses per year with about 100 foals born there annually.
The stallion roster includes Craig Lewis' popular Larry the Legend, the 1995 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner. Lewis also keeps several mares at Mira Loma.
"He's certainly going to move," Lewis said of Larry the Legend. "We're in the process of discussions with several people. We should have something firm in two or three weeks. He bred 30-35 mares this year, including 15 that I own whole or part. All those mares have to move, too. It's been quite an ordeal.
"We've been told that we need to be out of there by the end of July," Lewis added. "That's quick. We're talking to people on a daily basis."
Lewis said Valenti, who owned Mira Loma with his brothers and sisters, had little choice. "The place had escalated so much in value it made it difficult not to sell. It's too bad. It's a beautiful place."
Turkoman, a sire of more than 30 stakes winners, stood his first season at Mira Loma in 2004.
Joe Pevis, stallion manager at Creston Farms, said Dwayne Davis has purchased the sprawling ranch from Trebek and will continue in the breeding business for the time being. In 2005, the farm's stallion roster included Anziyan, Iron Cat, Reba's Gold, Siberian Summer, and Worldy Manner.