Hunter Farm Latest Central Florida Property to be Sold

A portion of another historic Thoroughbred farm in central Florida has been sold. Hunter Farm, which spans more than 320 acres near Ocala and features a three-quarter-mile dirt track and one-mile turf course, has been divided up into five parcels by owner Dennis Diaz, who raced champion and 1985 Kentucky Derby winner Spend a Buck.

A 78-acre tract was sold to Ocala-based Chad and Laurie Stewart for $1.3-million. Jeff Wood of Ocala purchased another parcel for $575,000 and three additional parcels are still for sale.

Chad Stewart, a trainer who has maintained a stable in the Midwest for the last 15 years, has several horses in training at Tampa Bay Downs and in South Florida with trainers Judy Hicklin and Tim McMullen.

"It's a gorgeous facility," Stewart said the Hunter property. "It had everything we needed. Laurie Stewart has a veterinary practice in Ocala. The Stewarts also have several broodmares, and intend to break and train horses. "This will be a full-service facility," Stewart said. "We may consign a few horses," Chad said.

The Hunter Farm Home Owners Association will maintain the farm's track, and each owner will maintain the track in direct proportion to the amount of stock that they own. No owner will be able to sell their interest in the track without selling their property.

"This is the only way we could give rights to the owner in perpetuity," Diaz said. "I'm really pleased at what the Stewart's have done. Mr. Wood is also building a barn on the property.

The farm, which had been leased out for several years, was formerly owned by Donald G. (Bud) Wilmot's Kinghaven Farm, the Canadian thoroughbred breeding and training operation that owned and raced Canadian Triple Crown winners With Approval 1989, Izvestia in 1990, and the 1981 champion 2-year-old colt Deputy Minister in partnership.

"I've been trying to retire from the farm business," said Diaz, who moved to Tampa in 1990. "It's a considerable commute from Ocala to Tampa. I'm looking to get back into racing and buy a few yearlings and 2-year-olds.