Equine Real Estate Market Heats Up

By Kristin J. Ingwell and
Eric Mitchell

A number of farms in Central Kentucky have either changed hands, or will soon. The single largest farm in the area listed for sale, Castleton Farm, is under contract, but real estate agent Bill Justice said he could give no information as to the buyers of the 1,070-acre property. The sale of the Fayette County farm should close sometime in October.

Other sources have indicated the buyer might be the family of Tony Ryan, founder of Ryanair, an Irish airline. The family owns at least two farms in Ireland: Kilboy Estate in County Tipperary, and Swordlestown Stud in County Kildare.

The Ryans bought stakes winner Catchascatchcan (in foal to Danzig) at last November's Keeneland mixed sale for $4.7 million under the name Lyons Demesne. Attempts to contact the Ryans were not successful.

Formerly a Standardbred operation, Castleton was listed in three parcels about a year ago. The two smaller parcels have sold, but the largest, with an asking price of $17.5 million (about $17,325 per acre) has not yet been sold.

The most notable transaction that has closed is the sale of Steve Stavro's Volterra Farm near Versailles, Ky., to Annette Bacola and Bob Cummings.

Bacola, Michigan's racing commissioner, and her husband, Cummings, live in Grosse Point Farms, Mich. The 296-acre Volterra has four barns with 66 stalls and a 6,600-square-foot main house. The property sold for $3.3 million, or about $11,150 per acre.

Ron Frederic's Tri-County Farm near Georgetown, Ky., will be auctioned Sept. 20. Frederic said he will focus his attention on his company, New Image International. J.P. King Auction Co. will handle the Tri-County Farm sale. The 285-acre property includes four barns with 65 stalls, four lakes, and a four-level home under construction.

Overseas, Michel Zerolo, owner of Oceanic Bloodstock, is closing on a 400-acre farm near Deauville, France. Zerolo and his partners, whom he did not name, are actually consolidating three farms. The new farm is part of a plan to expand into the commercial breeding and sales market. Zerolo and partners just offered their first consignment at the Deauville yearling sale last month.

Under the name Haras des Capucines, the consignment sold 42 horses for FF45,000,000 (about $6.245 million). They sold the sale-topper for the select session -- a FF6.5 million ($902,231) colt by Sadler's Wells out of Luna Blue -- and led all select session consignors in gross.

Zerolo divides his racehorse between the United States and his native France. He and his partners primarily own racehorses, but have some broodmares at Mill Ridge Farm near Lexington.