Calumet Sold to Trust
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Calumet Farm

Kennelot Stables, operated by the de Kwiatkowski Trust, announced May 3 it has sold the historic Calumet Farm and all of its improvements to the Calumet Investment Group Trust. The trustee for the buyer also announced the farm will be leased to Central Kentucky Thoroughbred operations Hurricane Hall and Bluegrass Hall, which are owned by billionaire businessman Brad Kelley.

The Associated Press reported a purchase price for the 799-acre property of nearly $36 million.

Bluegrass Hall has homebred Optimizer, a son of English Channel  , entered in the May 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and owns longshot Colonial Empress, a daughter of Empire Maker, who has been entered in the May 4 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). Both horses are trained by D. Wayne Lukas.

"Both of these operations owned by Mr. Kelley will be consolidated on the property," said Charles Middleton, a Louisville attorney and the trustee for the Calumet Investment Group Trust. About 280 horses are currently on the farm, which sits along New Circle Road west of Lexington, and they will be relocated during a transition phase. The anticipated official turnover date for the property is July 15.

Kelley, 54, was born in Franklin, Ky., and founded Commonwealth Tobacco, a discount cigarette company, in 1990. He sold the business for $1 billion in 2001 and since has acquired more than 1.7 million acres of property in Florida, New York, Texas, and New Mexico. According to Forbes, he's No. 263 on the list of the 400 richest Americans.

Kelley is a former Churchill Downs Inc. stockholder and also owned Kentucky Downs, which is located in his hometown on the Tennessee border. He has been active at Thoroughbred auctions and owns roughly 60 broodmares.

Calumet, perhaps the most recognized property in Central Kentucky, sits along Versailles Road near Keeneland. It has a long history of producing top horses, but fell into bankruptcy in the early 1990s following the management of J.T. Lundy. The late Henryk de Kwiatkowski purchased the farm at auction in 1992 for $17 million and restored the property.

Rumors had been circulating for a couple weeks that Kelley was purchasing Calumet. When asked if Kelley was associated with or part of the trust that purchased the farm, Middleton said that information on the identity of those involved is confidential.

"The rumors were not far off," Middleton said. "I can say the rumors probably accelerated things."

The purchase, which includes all the property, the farm name and the silks, was signed at 2:30 p.m. May 3, and the deed officially transfered at 3 p.m.

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