Vinery Selling Aussie Mares; Will Expand in Florida

By Ric Chapman

Dr. Tom Simon, the German-born, Spain-based lawyer who bounced into Australia and the United States four years ago with the purchase of Vinery in Kentucky and Australia, has decided it's time to expand the operation into Florida and is selling his entire broodmare band in Australia.

Vinery Australia will remain a stallion station, the current roster including Red Ransom, More Than Ready, Mossman, Brahms, Success Express, and Way of Light.

The announcement came as a shock, because the mares in Australia are valued at about A$26 million ($20 million U.S.). The band includes blue hen stakes winners Euphoria, Mannington, Damaschino, Rose Of Dane, Rose o'War, French Bid, Lady Jakeo, Tennessee Magic, Compulsion, and stakes producer Gatana.

Immediately after the announcement was made, many believed it was the start of the end for one of Australia's largest Thoroughbred farms. But Peter Orton, Vinery's general manager in Australia, quickly squashed the rumors.

"Tom can see where the future of breeding is heading and he is expanding his American operation by increasing his share holding in Florida," Orton said. "So he is upsizing globally and shuffling the furniture around in Australia. We will sell all the broodmares on the farm, and all the weanlings and yearlings some time next year."

It was recently announced Vinery would develop a stallion facility and training center on 220 acres near Ocala, Fla. The first stallion to stand there will be multiple grade I winner Peace Rules.

Orton said the dispersal of the mares is a calculated one and shouldn't be seen as downsizing. "Tom has rationalized the operation here," he said. "This is not a fire sale. It's a move of strength because Tom loves the racing side of things in Australia. So what will happen now is we will become a bigger stallion farm and our racing stock will grow too."

Vinery has about 50 horses in training in Australia. Vinery will sell 100 broodmares, 60 weanlings, and about 60 yearlings. Vinery has two operations in Australia, the main one at Scone in New South Wales, and the Euroa complex, where its racing team is pre-trained.

Simon, in Australia for the Melbourne Cup carnival, said: "This has been a very difficult decision to make; my family and I have loved the time we have spent in Australia, the friends we have made and what we have achieved here in such a short time. But I do not wish to become an absentee owner; this is not the way I want to be part of the industry here and not why I invested here so heavily."