By Peter Lee
It’s hard enough to be a top training stable like Stonestreet Farm or even a top stud farm like Claiborne Farm. To try and do both seems impossible to do. Yet that’s precisely what WinStar Farm has been doing for the past 20 years, having turned the small 400-acre farm into an international racing behemoth that has already yielded one Triple Crown winner.
The venture began in 2000 when two horsemen, Kenny Troutt and Bill Casner, bought Prestonwood, a farm in Versailles, Kentucky that had developed champion Thoroughbreds Da Hoss and Victory Gallop. They renamed it WinStar Farm, and two years later made their first big purchase for their stud operations — two-time Breeders’ Cup winner Tiznow, who has reaped benefits for them beyond their wildest dreams. He’s turned into one of the most successful sires of the 21st century.
Troutt and Casner then started concentrating on the training side of things, bringing in Elliott Walden, trainer of 1998 Belmont Stakes winner Victory Gallop, to condition their horses in 2005. Troutt and Casner went separate ways in 2010, leaving Troutt as the sole owner and Walden the president and CEO of the farm.
It’s been that way for 10 years now, with WinStar thriving on and off the track. They own such champions as:
- 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver
- 2010 Belmont Stakes and 2011 Breeders Cup Classic winner Drosselmeyer
- 2016 Belmont Stakes winner Creator
- 2016 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Tourist
- 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify.
WinStar has a training facility that other trainers can utilize, and many have taken advantage of the state-of-the-art features, which include a seven-furlong training track, 24-hour on-site staff, a swimming pool, and a hyperbaric chamber to aid in healing injuries. Recent trainees that have spent time at the farm include Songbird, Honor Code and Omaha Beach.
But let’s not forget the stud operations. WinStar houses 22 stallions whose stud fees range from $5,000 for Fed Biz and Tourist to $90,000 for Speightstown. (Justify is standing just down the road at Coolmore Farm.) The stud fee for Distorted Humor, who has sired more than 150 stakes winners and more G1 winners than all but two active North American stallions, is private.
Tiznow was just recently pensioned and is enjoying retirement at the farm. He sired 15 Grade 1 winners including Dubai World Cup winner Well Armed, Travers Stakes winner Colonel John, and Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Tourist. He also emerged as an outstanding broodmare sire of 34 stakes winners, including this year’s standout colt Tiz the Law.
Other notable stallions standing at WinStar include:
- 2017 Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming
- 2016 Preakness Stakes winner Exaggerator
- Audible, who finished third in the 2018 Kentucky Derby
Pioneerof the Nile, sire of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, used to stand at WinStar before his untimely death last year at the age of 13.
Seven years ago, WinStar built a stallion barn with 18 stalls with covered access to two breeding sheds. There are twenty-two paddocks that are three acres each for the stallions, and a secondary quarantine barn.
Over the years, WinStar has grown, gobbling up land from nearby farms, and now encompasses 2,700 acres. It has a large broodmare population and also trains weanlings and yearlings. WinStar Farm won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Owner in 2010 and also won the Outstanding Breeder award in 2016.
WinStar has been among the top five breeders based on earnings every year since 2014 and topped all breeders in 2018 with $8.6 million in winnings. Not bad for a farm juggling racing and breeding.
Photo Courtesy of Winstar Farm