The site of one of Florida's best-known Thoroughbred farms, Meadowbrook of Ocala Jockey Club, will soon have new owners with ambitious plans. Hyperion Training Center LLC, a company headed by entrepreneurs Dan and Diana Case, has a contract to purchase the 660-acre facility near Ocala from Barbara LaCroix and her son, David. The Cases' goal is to transform the operation into a state-of-the-art training and breeding center for more than 1,000 of their own and client horses. The LaCroixes will continue to keep their horses at the farm and have retained the Meadowbrook name.
"We're not sparing any expense," said Dan Case, who expects the deal to be finalized by June.
The Cases, who will live on the farm and act as hands-on owners, are investing $28 million in the project. The figure includes the purchase price of the property, which will be renamed Hyperion Training Center. The Cases already are involved in the renovation of Meadowbrook's three-quarter mile training track, and they will build a new 1 1/8-mile training track and a mile turf course. Plans also call for the addition of 500 stalls for client horses and 250 stalls for the Cases' own horses. Three hundred and 20 acres will be developed to include the Cases' own home and sites for 15-20 other houses. A restaurant on the property will be reopened.
The Cases are trying to purchase more than 300 acres near Meadowbrook as well.
In addition, the Cases want to stand high-quality stallions. They are actively pursuing proven studs standing in Kentucky and horses that are still racing. They would like to have 10 in all, counting the three that are already at Meadowbrook. The Cases also are assembling a broodmare band of 40 high-quality producers.
"We'll sell 15 (of their foals) as weanlings or yearlings and 15 as 2-year-olds; we'll race 10," Dan Case said.
David LaCroix will train the Cases' runners.
Said LaCroix of the decision to sell Meadowbrook: "The stallion barn fire (in 2003) was a big blow and then our farm manager died. It was like somebody was trying to tell us that it was time to move on. I live in California, and it was tough to run the farm from there. We're staying in the (Thoroughbred) business; we're just going to downsize a bit."
The Cases, who formerly called Arizona home, are semi-retired. They have been involved in a variety of ventures, including real estate development, trucking, an Internet provider service, and the mortgage business. Prior to their involvement in Meadowbrook, they had a small farm and owned Quarter Horses, Paint Horses, Appaloosas, and Thoroughbreds. Diana Case has been involved in horse rescue efforts.
"Horses are something we love," said Dan Case. "They're our pets."