Weathervane on the stallion barn at Vinery Stud near Lexington, Ky.

Weathervane on the stallion barn at Vinery Stud near Lexington, Ky.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Vinery to Sell U.S. Operations

Tom Simon is putting his massive breeding and training operation on the market.

International owner/breeder Tom Simon announced Aug. 28 he is selling his massive U.S. breeding and training operations that operate as Vinery.

Simon is most interested in selling as a package the breeding and boarding farm he owns in Kentucky and the breeding and training center he owns in Florida. Vinery also has long-term leases on two farms in New York—Sugar Maple Farm near Poughquag and Empire Stud new Hudson—that are assumable. Simon, a former corporate law attorney in Germany, bought the Vinery Kentucky farm in 1999. He also owns a Thoroughbred operation in Australia that is a separate business owned by a partnership and not included in what he wants to sell.

"Mr. Simon is not bailing on the industry, this is mainly about his children who don’t have an interest in the horse business," said Vinery president Tom Ludt. "It is his passion but not theirs. This is not going to be a fire sale. It is our hope to keep everything running only, eventually, with a new owner. At the end of the day, we’re a mammoth operation but we’re a profitable operation."

The 440-acre Kentucky farm near Lexington is a full-scale breeding, boarding, and sales operation. The farm is home to seven stallions: More Than Ready , Congrats , Pure Prize,Limehouse , Pioneerof the Nile , Kodiak Kowboy, and Street Hero.

The Vinery Florida facility, near Summerfield, Fla., has a stallion division, as well, standing Backtalk , Benny the Bull, Kantharos , Maimonides , and Pomeroy. The 230-acre facility also includes a seven-furlong dirt racetrack, a six-furlong turf course, and an Aquasizer, which allows horses to "swim" at various speeds and is employed for horses coming back from injury or preparing to return to the races after lay-ups. From September through May, 110 horses are typically on the grounds and 43 staff members oversee them.

At Sugar Maple in New York, Vinery stands Bluegrass Cat , Posse, D' Funnybone , Frost Giant , Giant Surprise , and Friendly Island. Vinery owns shares in Bluegrass Cat, Posse, and D’ Funnybone.

"It would be hard for me to believe anything changes before the breeding season," Ludt said of the operation that employs 110 people and manages about 600 horses. Of the 600 horses on the farms in Kentucky, Florida, and New York, Vinery owns between 80 and 100.

Ludt said Simon is not interested in selling off pieces of the farms. He is primarily interested in selling to someone who wants to assume the entire U.S. operation. Offers made on individual farms, he said, would be considered but the real value of the business is its scope.

"(Simon) really isn’t interested in people picking and choosing," Ludt said. "This has nothing do with raising cash. This is all about passion, and really it makes sense. The children aren’t interested, so they will handle this in a way that doesn’t disrupt the business and does not jeopardize the staff."