Hermitage to Continue as Thoroughbred Farm

Louisville entrepreneurs and philanthropists Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson have announced that historic Hermitage Farm in Goshen, Ky., will remain a Thoroughbred operation, with plans to make the farm a tourist destination.

In 2010, Brown and Wilson, who previously had acquired 180 acres of the farm, assumed ownership of the remainder of the 700-acre spread from Carl Pollard, the former board chairman of Churchill Downs, Inc. Under an agreement between Brown and Wilson, the married couple whose other business interests include operating the eclectic 21C museum hotels and Kentucky Bison Co., Pollard leased the farm through the end of 2012.

"Despite Pollard's departure, Brown and Wilson will retain Thoroughbred operations at the property and see that Hermitage continues its rich tradition in the equine industry," the farm's owners said in a release. "Hermitage Farm's equine operations have always been regarded as world-class and we want to retain that distinction."

Brown and Wilson also announced the property will become an environmental conservation easement in perpetuity, protecting it from development.

In addition to continuing Hermitage as a Thoroughbred operation, the couple plan to make the main house at Hermitage available for lodging and special events, including weddings. They plan to convert the former dairy barn into a restaurant that would feature products grown at Hermitage.

"It is important that we retain the authenticity of this great space and make it open for tourists to enjoy the beauty of Oldham County and the Commonwealth of Kentucky," Wilson said in the release.

Pollard purchased Hermitage from the late Warner L. Jones, Jr., also a former Churchill Downs board chairman. Among the horses bred at Hermitage was 1953 Kentucky Derby winner Dark Star and a yearling half brother to Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew that sold for a then-record $13.1 million in 1985.

Among the horses campaigned by Pollard was Caressing, the 2000 champion 2-year-old filly who won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
 

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