As a partner in historic Darby Dan Farm, Wayne Sweezey was a familiar face at the Keeneland September yearling sale. But a non-compete agreement kept him from being an active participant in last year’s auction after he left Darby Dan. Now Sweezey is back with his own consignment, T. Wayne Sweezey and partners, which has 22 horses in the September catalog.
“Even though the Thoroughbred industry is in a lull or a trough right now, I think my business is going to grow because I have so many good friends who have been supportive,” Sweezey said. “My European connections have all come back, so I feel very comfortable.”
A desire to go out on his own, according to Sweezey, was the reason why he ended his association with Darby Dan in 2008.
“I had been working at Darby Dan for 18 years,” he said. “I was a partner in Darby Dan with John Phillips, and it was a great run. I loved being there; it was a super experience; and I had met lots of people. But it was time for me to do my own thing.”
The non-compete agreement, however, meant Sweezey couldn’t do his own thing – at least in the Thoroughbred business – for a year. So from June of 2008 until June 1 of 2009 “I didn’t do much of anything,” Sweezey said. “I kept in contact with friends, looked at other people’s horses as favors, and kind of laid low. But I let everybody know that in one year I would be back in the business. I didn’t know where, but I knew I would be somewhere.”
Sitting on the sidelines was a “miserable” experience, according to Sweezey.
“I had a very difficult year. I had my shoulder operated on because there was a severe tear and then I had kidney surgery,” he said.
But once the non-compete exile ended everything “all started coming together,” Sweezey said. He’s heading up a new venture, which operates under the name of Timber Town Stable. His partners are his wife, Cathy; sales director Maureen Merkler; and his son from a previous marriage, Kent.
Timbertown has two farms in the Leestown Road area near Lexington. One is 35 acres, and the other, the former Glencoe Farm, is 130 acres.
“We have a consignment here at Keeneland; we board; and we do quarantine,” Sweezey said. “We emulate pretty much what I did at Darby Dan, but on a much smaller scale. I have no intention of it ever being as big as Darby Dan because it was just too consuming. My wife takes care of all the logistics in the office and does a lot with client relations, and I take care of the farm and do the horsemanship thing. The business is growing, but it’s still got a ways to go.”
Sweezey’s September sale consigment this year is “a good group,” he said, “and I would like to have one like it every year in September. I want to have a small consignment of quality yearlings. I would like to have all upper end stuff, but, obviously, you’re going to take some of the lower end stuff, too. Right now I have a couple of mares, but everything I own, I own in partnership. I don’t want to own horses outright because owning them in partnership spreads the risk around a little bit more.”