Former Silverleaf Property Sold

Benjamin Leon will operate Paso Fino Farm on former Silverleaf property.

Miami businessman Benjamin Leon has purchased more than 600 acres of land near Orange Lake, Fla., that formerly made up David Hutson's Silverleaf Farm. The deal, which closed in late December, was worth $25 million, according to the Ocala Star-Banner newspaper.

Leon, the owner of Leon Medical Centers, will use the property for a Paso Fino farm, which will be called Besilu Collection,  the Star-Banner reported.

Hutson sold Silverleaf in 2000, and it was divided into several different operations. They included Sequel Stallions, owned by Becky Thomas at the time it was sold to Leon, and Ardmore Stud, owned by Bob Cromartie, who formerly ran Silverleaf for Hutson. Ardmore is the home of Briggs & Cromartie Thoroughbred Consultants, which Cromartie operates in partnership with Alan Briggs.

Ardmore will remain at its present location through 2008.

"We will need that year to design and build our new farm facility," said Cromartie in prepared statement. "It will allow us to make the transition in an orderly fashion."

No decision has been made about Ardmore's new location.

"From our point of view, it was a good business decision," said Cromartie of the transaction on Dec. 5. "Mr. Leon seems like a real gentleman. I talked to him about getting into the Thoroughbred business, and he said he might."

Thomas will relocate her operation to leased Central Florida land that once was part of Frank Stronach's Adena Springs South. Kendall-Jackson wine mogul Jess Jackson now owns the property. Sequel's stallions have been relocated.