The major Kentucky Thoroughbred farm that houses the great stallion Storm Cat announced Tuesday it is selling off nearly its entire stock of about 200 horses.
Overbrook Farm owner Bill Young Jr. explained he just wasn't cut out to continue operating a thoroughbred breeding facility with the same drive as his late father, William T. Young, who founded it nearly four decades ago.
"It was a tough decision," Young said in an interview. "It was ultimately my decision, but the family agreed. The main moving force was the fact I just don't have a passion for the sport, even though it's an exciting business."
While most of the horses will be sold beginning this fall, the most famous one is staying. Storm Cat, considered one of the elite stallions in history, retired from breeding just over a year ago and will live out his days on the Lexington farm, Young said.
Young's son, Chris, also will keep a handful of racehorses--likely between five and 15--for his own racing operation. The family will continue to own Overbrook's two active stallions--Jump Start and Grindstone, the grandsire of Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird and Belmont winner Summer Bird--but both will likely move to another farm.
Among those likely to be sold are some 75 broodmares, 50 weanlings, 50 yearlings, and 20 to 30 horses of racing age, Young said.
Young, who also owns a public warehousing and real estate business in Lexington, said the farm's closure as a breeding operation would mean the loss of 40 to 45 jobs. All employees have received severance packages and the farm was actively working to find them other positions, he said.
The decision comes at a difficult time for the breeding industry, where prices are down at most Thoroughbred auctions. Still, Young said he is confident the family will get good value.
"The market is not as strong as it has been, but what we're offering for sale is very unique," he said. "We're offering access to families."
The dispersal was set to take place at three Keeneland sales in Lexington, with the yearlings sold in September and others to follow in subsequent sales in September and January.
"Keeneland had the privilege of selling many sons and daughters of the great Storm Cat," Keeneland president Nick Nicholson said. "Now we have the opportunity to offer our buyers horses from the outstanding Overbrook families."
Overbrook has bred 113 stakes winners, including 62 grades stakes winners and 21 winners of Grade I races. Among the notables owned or bred by the farm are 1996 Kentucky Derby winner Grindstone, 1999 Breeders' Cup Classic winner Cat Thief, as well as champions Boston Harbor, Flanders, Golden Attraction, and Surfside.
The family will continue to own the land with hopes of finding some tenants to move their horses there, Young said.
"It's the end of an era," Young said.
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