California Chrome’s successive victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes have turned attention to his breeding and the breeding of Thoroughbreds in California, but the Golden State is not the only jurisdiction with a record of top performers.
Florida is the regional market that most challenges Kentucky’s eminence in breeding, but the programs in Virginia, New York, Maryland have all produced classic winners and champions.
On the other hand, Thoroughbred breeding in Ohio nearly died out during the most recent period of economic collapse.
One of the breeders who has weathered that storm is Kimpton “Kim” Williams, who has Fair Winds Farm in Waynesville, Ohio, with his wife Laurie. Located about 20 minutes north of Cincinnati, Fair Winds stood leading sire Honey Jay (by Double Jay) and currently has Mercer Mill (Forty Niner), who has reigned as the leading Ohio sire for a decade.
Williams said that breeding in Ohio had collapsed to the point that there were fewer than 100 accredited Ohio resident mares, but that last year, bloodstock investor and adviser Conor Foley from Lexington had contacted him.
That call led Fair Winds and a group of interested investors to purchase a graded stakes-winning son of Candy Ride (Arg) called Kettle Corn.
“When this horse became available,” Williams recalled, “I told the partners that this horse is a stayer, is by the right sire, and is a real racehorse. We negotiated a price, and they ultimately accepted it.”
So the partners had themselves a horse.
Williams is both correct and philosophical about acquiring a stallion prospect of major talent like Kettle Corn, who defeated Paynter in the G2 San Diego Handicap and twice ran second to Game On Dude in G1 events. Williams said, “We were in the right place at the right time, and if we had faltered, Kettle Corn would have been in somebody else’s program.”
Foley found the horse while Kettle Corn was out in California with trainer John Sadler. The bloodstock agent and breeder said, “I love the way he’s made. I think Kettle Corn possesses a tremendous amount of speed that will carry, and I think he will be a tremendous asset for the Ohio program. As California Chrome has evidenced, a really good horse can come from anywhere, and I really believe that this horse could be a source of major performers. Plus, the Williamses are great people.”
Both mentally and physically, Kettle Corn has impressed all the people around him. Williams enthused that Kettle Corn is a “perfectly made horse. He’s very kind, very smart, and a very typey horse. Kettle Corn stands 16 hands, carries good flesh, and reminds me of a Quarter Horse. He has a pretty head and a keen eye. When trainer John Sadler sent him to Kentucky, we went to look at him, and he was race fit. I liked him then, and he has put on a bunch of weight and filled out now. Has a lot of muscle tone and a great hindquarter.”
Foley noted that “I’m thrilled to see the people in the Ohio program get a horse like this. Their program was hurt so badly that they nearly lost the infrastructure there. But a horse like Kettle Corn can help turn that around. He won more than $800,000 and ran a Beyer Speed Figure of more than 100 eight times.”
In addition to speed and good looks, Kettle Corn also has a great attitude. Williams said, “We are building a new stallion barn, and he’s such a gentleman that we are keeping him in a barn with mares. And he is not a problem or anything.”
If the stock by Kettle Corn run to his ability and manners, they should be able to earn their keep and more. The Ohio program has high expectations from proceeds of video lottery terminals, with 80 percent of the money received from that reserved for purse distributions.
Earlier this year, the governor of Ohio appointed Williams to the state racing commission as an advisor on the use and distribution of the money for the breeding and racing industry there. Noting that this is a serious responsibility, Williams said that “there is opportunity for breeders and racehorse owners here, especially if they participate in the Ohio accredited program, which means that the foal is by a stallion who stands in the state and is foaled here too.”
In addition to the possibility of making money with horses in Ohio, there is also the chance to dream. Dreaming as big as a Triple Crown success doesn’t seem out of reach for regional breeders, and we can thank California Chrome for that also.
*The preceding article was first published earlier this week at Paulick Report.