Sheikh Mohammed, whose Bernardini won the Jim Dandy (gr. II) and Travers Stakes (gr. I) last season at Saratoga, has purchased a 106-acre historic horse farm adjacent to Saratoga Racecourse in upstate New York. Robert and Janice McNair sold their Stonerside Stable to the ruler of Dubai for $17.4 million. The McNairs still own Stonerside, their showplace farm outside Paris, Ky.
Sheikh Mohammed's operation had been leasing the Saratoga property for the past two years. "It was mainly used as a staging area for our 2 year olds that needed a little more time to develop," said Darley president Jimmy Bell. "We've been pleased with the farm the past two seasons and Sheikh Mohammed is always looking to give his horses every opportunity for their overall growth and development. The horses have thrived mentally and physically there, and we're happy to incorporate the facility into our overall program."
Bell said an overall game plan would be developed as to whether the Darley racehorses will run straight off the farm or be stabled in the regular racetrack barn area. He said a decision will be made in the next 30 days as to adding a Polytrack surface to the farm's one-mile training track, over which classic winner Bernardini trained as a 2-year-old.
In a statement released by Stonerside, Robert McNair noted that "Janice and I have enjoyed our time at our Saratoga home, but since buying the Houston Texans of the National Football League, we've been unable to spend as much time in Saratoga as we had planned to."
The McNairs had purchased the one-time John Hay and Betsey Whitney estate in the late '90s for $5.5 million, and had done extensive renovation to the home and property.
The McNairs never did have horses on the property, which was leased for the first couple of years they owned it to Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, then to Sheikh Mohammed's Darley operation. The McNairs listed the property for sale in 2004, then took it off the market one year later, subsequently leasing it once again to Darley for the past two years.
The farm, which sits on Nelson Avenue, includes two barns and 46 stalls, paddocks, a residence, and guest cottages,.