Horseman P. Noel Hickey and his wife, Margaret, have sold 153 acres of their 300-acre Irish Acres Farm near Ocala, Fla., for $1.54 million to a trust headed by real estate developer Steve Rudnianyn and have agreed to sell the remaining 147 acres to the group. But that doesn't mean they are getting out of the horse business.
The Hickeys submitted an option to purchase 120 acres of undeveloped land several miles away and plan to move in once the deal is completed for sale of the 147 acres to the Rudnianyn group. "We'll have to build a house, barns, and training track on the new property," Margaret Hickey said, adding that it is a chance to downsize and escape urban sprawl. "We're located on a main highway, and the city has caught up to us."
The Hickeys plan to conduct business as usual on the 147 acres up to that time. "The 150 acres we sold was grazing land," she said.
Irish Acres stands three stallions, including Tour d'Or and Bucksplasher, and board horses for clients.
The Rudnianyn group plans to request zoning that allows part of the property to be developed into acreage for homes on three to seven acres. The Hickeys earlier were dealt a setback in an attempt to sell Irish Acres to Wal-Mart and later to get the farm reclassified for heavy residential development in a deal with Rudnianyn.
Noel Hickey, in addition to helping operate Irish Acres, proved a successful trainer, sending out Buck's Boy to win the 1998 Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT). Bred by Irish Acres, Buck's Boy was champion grass male that year for owner Quarter B Farm.