When trainer-turned-agent Mark Reid, Sr., and two partners acquired Walnut Green Bloodstock and farm in 2005, it was with the intent that the operation would be in on the ground floor of a Pennsylvania racing and breeding industry rejuvenated by revenue from slot machines.
Two years after taking over the agency established by Russell Jones and his late brother Richard Jones, Reid and his team have achieved their initial goals.
Bolstered by the enhanced purse structure stemming from the slots revenues and a new track that is being built, Pennsylania racing and breeding are ready to surge. And Walnut Green is growing along with it.
The farm has acquired adjoining properties and now totals nearly 500 acres, with a staff of about 30 people. The broodmare population — a combination of client horses and those owned by Walnut Green — has increased and will likely total 75 this year. There is a possibility that the farm will eventually add a stallion operation.
“We have rapidly expanded our broodmare operation through gaining new clients and putting together some partnerships,” Mark Reid, Jr., the farm’s vice president and director of sales, said while overseeing the Walnut Green consignment to this year’s Fasig-Tipton Saratoga selected yearling sale. “People are really picking up on the Pennsylvania-bred incentives. We like to think of ourselves as the ‘Pennsylvania connection’ for anyone wanting to get in with these large incentive money they have from slot machines. They are realizing that a Pennsylvania-bred is something valuable to have.”
Despite its bullishness on the Pennsylvania program, Walnut Green is not sacrificing quality. The younger Reid said most of the farm’s mares are bred to Kentucky stallions but produce the resulting foals in Pennsylvania to take advantage of the breeder incentives.
“It’s exciting times,” said the elder Reid. “I had always said ‘if they ever get slots there (in Pennsylvania) I am going to be there’.”
Jones, a fixture at Saratoga and other leading sales, remained with the Walnut Green operation following the sale and serves as president. Reid’s partners in ownership are trainer Anthony Dutrow and Jim DiCicco.
“Russell set a pretty good path for us before we came in,” said Reid, Sr. “He always had nice horses — world class pedigrees — and we are staying with that. We are trying to breed top-class horses who are Pennsylvania-breds. We are trying to win the Kentucky Derby, the Breeders’ Cup, and other top races and do it with horses bred in Pennsylvania. The goal is to have a top-level company that is based in Pennsylvania.”—Ron Mitchell