Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Stud has entered into an agreement to purchase Lexington's Jonabell Farm. The purchase includes the 790-acre property, which has been at its current location since its founding in 1954. John and Jessica Bell III own the farm, which is managed by their son Jim.
The Aug. 5 press release said the transaction will be completed later this year and that Jim Bell would continue to manage the four stallions currently at Jonabell: Cherokee Run, Gold Legend, Holy Bull, and Old Trieste. Triple Crown winner Affirmed stood at the farm until his death earlier this year.
Benny Bell Williams, daughter of John Bell, said the particulars of the sale are still being worked out, and nothing will be final for a few months. Although Jonabell is one of a number of farms expressing concern at expansion possibilities at the nearby airport, Blue Grass Field, Williams said estate planning, not airport issues, were at the heart of the decision to sell Jonabell.
This purchase is the second in the Central Kentucky area by Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Stud Management operation. In 1998 he took possession of Raceland, near Paris. He purchased that 650-acre farm from the Hancock family's Claiborne Farm. Since then, he has considered other farms in the area, including Castleton Farm. His brother, Sheikh Hamdan, owns Shadwell Farm, including its Nashwan Stud division, which is very close to Jonabell. A third brother, Sheikh Maktoum, owns Gainsborough Farm in nearby Woodford County.
Sheikh Mohammed owns Dalham Hall Stud near Newmarket, England, the former home of Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) winner Dubai Millennium. Sheikh Mohammed has racing operations in Dubai, Europe, and North America, in addition to the breeding operations. He is the driving force behind his family's Godolphin racing operation, which was one of the top buyers at the recent Keeneland July yearling sale.