Farnsworth Farms Shutting Down Operations

Farnsworth Farms, which won an Eclipse Award in 1996 as North America's outstanding breeder, is shutting down its Thoroughbred operation and liquidating its assets. More than 600 acres of Farnsworth property near Morriston, Fla., are on the market, and the nursery's mares, yearlings, and foals will be sold at public auction. The horses in its racing stable will be sold privately or entered in claiming races. The stallions will be sold or relocated.

"I'm not getting out of the horse business," said Michael Sherman, Farnsworth's president and chief executive officer. "I'll own horses, race horses, and breed horses, but it will be on a much smaller scale. In a perfect world, I would like to be a consultant to a wealthy person who is getting into the horse business. It's getting to be extremely difficult for someone to play this game the way it's supposed to be played unless they have a lot of money."

Sherman expects to close a deal in the next month or two to sell a 200-acre farm owned by Farnsworth, but does not have a firm buyer yet for the 426-acre main nursery. The selling schedule for the Farnsworth horses calls for approximately 110 yearlings to be offered at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. (OBS) August yearling auction and about 175 mares to be offered at the OBS October mixed sale. Next year, 125 -150 Farnsworth foals will be sold at the OBS winter mixed sale.

The stallions that will be sold or relocated include Double Honor and Line in the Sand, which are owned 100% by Farnsworth. Farnsworth owns a 50% interest in a couple of other stallions at the farm, Suave Prospect and Adcat. Boarders that will need to be relocated are Best of the Rest, Sir Leon, and First Tour, who stands privately for his owner. Sherman also is looking for a new home for Fortunate Prospect, who was pensioned earlier this year.

Farnsworth Farm is owned by a trust that was set up by the late Isidore Sherman on the behalf of his children, Michael Sherman and Dayle Silver. Michael Sherman was the driving force behind his family's involvement in the Thoroughbred business. He became intrigued by the sport while following the fortunes of racehorses owned by one of his father's friends, Louis Wolfson. Sherman started Farnsworth in the early 1960s with financial help from his father, a manufacturing executive who died in 1988.

Farnsworth is being sold for estate planning purposes. Sherman, 65, said neither his children nor his sister's children are interested in continuing the farm.

Farnsworth has been a major consignor at the Florida juvenile auctions for many years, selling the horses it bred. Graduates of Fansworth's program include champions Beautiful Pleasure and Jewel Princess.