Claiborne Farm is one of horse racing's legendary farms with a history as rich as the sport itself. Horses associated with the farm have won the sport's biggest races and have gone on to become some of the most influential sires in the history of racing. The farm's Hall of Famers include Secretariat, Bold Ruler, Buckpasser, Gallant Fox, Nasrullah, Damascus and Omaha. The farm also stood the legendary Mr. Prospector, who is considered one of the most influential sires of the 20th Century with 181 stakes winners and 22 champions. Today, the farm stands War Front, who was the top sire in North America in 2016 (by stakes winners) and commands a stud fee of $250,000. Bourbon and Barns recently caught up with Allison Bishop of the legendary Claiborne Farm.
Bourbon and Barns: Claiborne Farm has an incredible history and has been recognized as one of the most influential breeding operations in the sport. The farm is also the birthplace of numerous Kentucky Derby winners and champions. How has the farm been able to accomplish success incredible success over the past 100+ years?
Allison Bishop: We have been blessed with great clients, good and fertile ground, and top stallions to keep our operations successful throughout the years.
BB: In addition to standing 12 stallions, what else does the farm do? Does the farm have a broodmare band? Does the farm breed to race or to sell? Does the farm offer any sales services?
AB: Besides breeding, the farm is also a nursery. We have our own broodmare band of about 60, whether that is solely owned or in partnerships, and we board clients’ mares as well. We also race Thoroughbreds, and we have about 30 in training this year.
BB: Does the farm generally breed its mares to its own stallions? Or are the mares bred to a variety of stallions?
AB: We breed about 75% of our mares to our own stallions.
BB: With Claiborne’s incredible history, the farm is practically a museum to the sport. What can visitors expect to see on a tour?
AB: Visitors can except to see our breeding shed, our stallion barns where they can visit with guys, as well as our historic cemetery where the legendary Secretariat is buried among other greats.
BB: The farm has a great breeding tradition with its stallions having produced 22 Kentucky Derby winners, 19 Preakness Stakes winners, 22 Belmont Stakes winners and 29 Breeders’ Cup wins. How does the farm continue to stand such influential sires? How does the farm acquire its stallions? Are any of them homebreds?
AB: Eight of twelve stallions on our current roster were born and raised at the farm. We have loyal clients who like to send their horses back to the farm when the horses or mares are done with their racing career
BB: Since entering stud in 2007, War Front's progeny has had incredible success both at the racetrack and in the sales ring. Last year, he was even the leading sire in North America by stakes winners (12%) and the world’s leading sire by two-year-old stakes winners (18%). This year, War Front stands for $250,000. Was the farm confident War Front would have this much success at stud? How would you describe his success?
AB: War Front’s success has been incredible, and it seems like he’s picked up where his sire, Danzig, left off. It’s hard to believe that at one point early on in his career, he stood for $10,000.
BB: What is the process for a mare being approved to breed to one of your stallions? What is that generally based on? The mare’s breeding, race record, siblings? Or a combination? Does the process become more competitive if a stallion has had more success at stud?
AB: It’s a combination of a good pedigree and a solid race record.
BB: Kentucky Derby winner Orb entered stud in 2014 and his first two-year-olds should hit the track for the first time later this year. Is the farm excited to see his progeny race?
AB: We are very excited to see them race! We’ve heard great things about his upcoming two-year-old crop.
BB: I read that Orb uses the same paddock that Secretariat once used. Is that true? If so, is that a coincidence or, as a Kentucky Derby winner, does he get to use the great Secretariat’s paddock?
AB: Yes, that is true. Pulpit was using that paddock and had just passed away when we were acquiring Orb. It was fitting that he would go in the same paddock as those two legendary stallions.
BB: What is the future of Claiborne farm?
AB: We hope to continue to breed and race quality Thoroughbreds and assist in fan development growth for the industry as a whole.
For more information about touring Claiborne Farm, go to www.bourbonandbarns.com/horsefarmtours.