With the recent addition of slots to Ohio, the Buckeye State has grown into a regional powerhouse in the Midwest racing scene. At the same time, its breeding program is blossoming. Leading the pack of Ohio breeders is Robin L. Murphy, who stands nearly a dozen stallions at her 80-acre Poplar Creek Horse Center in Bethel, Ohio. Her very first racehorse, stakes winner Tidal Volume , has just returned home to round out her stallion roster.
Murphy showed Quarter Horses for years, but that changed in 2009. At that time, Art Preston of Preston Stables regularly sent the experienced horsewoman horses to condition over her half-mile track. One of those was Tidal Volume, an injured son of Tapit who had yet to race. “Art Preston gave him to me after he had fractured a knee in training as a late two-year old,” said Murphy. She rehabbed Tidal Volume for two years, then, placing him in the barn of trainer Tom Amoss, she “ran him from the farm the first time and he broke his maiden.” As a five-year-old in 2011, Tidal Volume won the Temperance Hill Stakes at Louisiana Downs en route to earnings of $231,476.
When Murphy first acquired Tidal Volume, she began to research the Thoroughbred industry. “So that winter of 2010, I needed to learn more about the whole industry because it [was] different than the Quarter Horses,” she noted. To learn more about Thoroughbreds, she attended educational TOBA seminars. In May 2011, Murphy sat in on a Thoroughbred Ownership Seminar and, later that May, a Breeding Clinic. She attended another Breeding Clinic in 2012 and a Pedigree & Conformation Clinic in October 2013. “I definitely plan on coming back next year,” she noted.
The TOBA seminars allowed Murphy to surround herself with the best and brightest in Thoroughbreds. “I needed to learn more about the Thoroughbred industry and the pedigrees of the Thoroughbreds, so I learned a lot about the industry through the clinics and seminars,” she recalled, adding, “I learned a lot on how the Thoroughbred industry is run.” At the first session she attended, Murphy met trainer Graham Motion and owner Barry Irwin of Team Valor, the connections behind future Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Animal Kingdom.
Listening to Motion and Team Valor speak was invaluable for Murphy. Their talk told her she was on the right path, especially with her decision to place Tidal Volume with Amoss. Now, she plans to make them a regular part of her annual itinerary. Said Murphy, “I look forward to going to the TOBA seminars, ’cause everywhere you go, it brings up different opportunities.” She added, “I’ve met people from different states who actually at this point [have] brought me horses to my breeding and foaling facility that I met through the seminars.” These new friends include TOBA’s July 2014 Member of the Month, Margaret Burlingham.
While at the 2012 Breeding Clinic, Murphy visited what was then Hopewell Farm near Midway, Ky. There, she fell for a stallion named David Copperfield; now, the son of Halo is just one standout in Murphy’s stallion roster. “David” joined her first stallion, Kingship, a graded stakes winner by King Cugat; he arrived in 2011, also from Preston Stables. The following year, Murphy also added Art Preston’s Mixmaster, a Medaglia d'Oro half-brother to Canadian champion Brusque, to her stallion barn.
In 2013, along came the graded stakes-placed Capote horse Aeneas; Outrageouslyfunny, who stands privately, but sired a grade II winner for his owner, Bobby Rankin; and 2007 Ohio Horse of the Year King of the Roxy. Art Preston’s Brooklyn Handicap (gr. II) winner Birdrun , Tidal Volume, grade I-placed Twinspired, Favorite Bid, a son of Spectacular Bid, and Louis Villain, by A.P. Indy, fill out her stallion roster. An exciting addition for 2015 is Calumet Farm’s Vertiformer , a multiple graded stakes-placed horse by Dynaformer from the family of Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Union Rags.
With her all-star operation located only 100 miles from Lexington, Murphy is busier than ever. In her 80-stall barn, she boards 20 horses year-round, while the rest are mares and stallions. And business is booming. In 2012, she foaled three horses; in 2013, that number jumped to 25, then to 58 in 2014. Expect that number to only increase as the Ohio-bred program grows. Said Murphy, “I’ve had so many phone calls every year. It just keeps increasing and I think the program is going to be an exceptionally well program, even better than the surrounding states that already have the programs.” She owns seven mares herself, all of which she bred to her own stallions this year except one. When—not if—Ohio surges to the forefront of regional programs, expect Murphy and her stellar stallions to be leading the charge.
Congratulations to Robin, TOBA's November member of the month!