Prominent Florida Farms Change Hands

by Ryan Conley

Two farm properties with historical significance to the Thoroughbred industry near Ocala, Fla., were involved in recent sale transactions.

Jack J. Dreyfus' Hobeau Farm, a 1,830-acre spread that produced horses that beat Secretariat and Kelso, was sold to Roy Lerman for a reported $12.75 million, while part of Nelson Jones Farms and Training Center, which was formerly Fred Hooper's Hooper Farm, was acquired by Amy Tarrant for about $3.4 million.

Lerman, who owns Lambholm Farm locations in Ocala and Middleburg, Va., said he intends to keep Dreyfus' former farm intact, utilizing it primarily as a broodmare/yearling facility for horses owned by him and other clients. He also will board and break horses for the 91-year-old Dreyfus, founder of the Dreyfus Mutual Fund who has drastically reduced his stock from numbers that peaked at about 600 at times.

Lerman will keep his current Lambholm operations, utilizing his first Ocala farm of 420 acres for foaling, breaking, and training. Lambholm South manager Julian "Junior" Serna Jr., who managed the property when it was first Wooden Horse Stud, and later Allen Paulson's Brookside South Farm, will take on the added responsibility of the additional Hobeau acreage.

Dreyfus, who couldn't be reached for comment, will maintain a small stable with Hall of Fame trainer H. Allen Jerkens. Dreyfus and Jerkens teamed on horses such as Onion and Prove Out, who each beat Secretariat in his Triple Crown-winning year of 1973, and Beau Purple, who defeated five-time Horse of the Year Kelso three different times.

"He is every trainer's dream," said Jerkens, who began training for Dreyfus in 1962. "He was patient, and he picked you up when you were down."

In the Nelson Jones deal, Tarrant acquired 158 acres and the primary farm area once occupied by Hooper, the three-time Eclipse Award winning owner who died in 2000 at the age of 102. Tarrant, whose forte was training show jumpers prior to her entry into Thoroughbred racing in 2001, has campaigned horses such as graded stakes winner Bold World.

"I would like to combine all areas of my operation, both racing and broodmares, all in the place," she said. "I have some very nice fillies racing, and when they finish racing, I would like to really get the breeding part going."

Jones, who acquired 600 acres of Hooper Farm for a reported $6.3 million in 2002, will retain the training center he developed. Jeff and Carolyn Kirk, Gayle Woods, and T-Square Stud are among the tenants. Jones previously sold off parcels of land to other horse owners, including Hal Queen and Fred Brei Jr.