Robert Courtney Sr., who bought his first mare in 1941 and the property that became his Crestfield Farm near Lexington in 1956, will retire from the Thoroughbred industry following the Keeneland January sale.
The 86-year-old Courtney said he made the decision after his last major client, Jaime Carrion, decided to disperse his holdings.
“I’ve been thinking about it since 2001 when (mare reproductive loss syndrome) hit and I lost so many foals,” Courtney said. “It is very hard on a small breeder today. Most of my clients have either retired or died, and when Mr. Carrion made his decision, I didn’t see any sense in continuing.
“At my age, and I have a few health problems, I just thought it was time to retire and for Evelyn and I to move to town.”
Courtney’s original 127-acre farm will be sold, and his son, Robert Jr., will continue to operate the family’s other 195-acre property. His other son, Tom, has also been a part of the Crestfield operation.
“It’s a great game and I’ve had a great run,” Courtney said. “I’ve been very fortunate, but the game has outgrown me.”
For Carrion, Courtney raised champions Meadow Star and Action This Day, and the farm also raised such top horses as Meadowlake and Dollar Bill.
Courtney purchased the mare Hasty Queen II for $11,000 and sold more than $1 million worth of yearlings produced by her, including multiple grade I winner Fit to Fight, multiple graded stakes winner Hasty Tam, and stakes winners Hasty Cutie, Playful Queen, and Michael Navanod.
Courtney’s Crestfield Farm has been a regular consignor to auctions and he was among the breeders that founded Fasig-Tipton Kentucky.