Lane’s End: Tradition-Rich Farm with an Eye to Racing’s Future

The Life
Legendary sire A.P. Indy (center) is flanked by his sons, sires Mineshaft (left) and Honor Code at Lane's End Farm. (Anne Eberhardt Keogh/BloodHorse)

Lane’s End Farm is a cornerstone of the Thoroughbred industry, situated in the heart of Kentucky’s Bluegrass region where thousands of future racehorses are born each year. The farm has a storied history that stretches back more than half a century, when patriarch Will Farish raced his first stakes winner in 1967.

Lane’s End encompasses the entire Thoroughbred experience, but arguably its most lasting success has come as a breeding operation. The Farish family has bred some of the titans of the sport in the 20th and 21st centuries. One of those legends, the breed-shaping sire A.P. Indy, still resides in the stately stud barns at Lane’s End’s Woodford County headquarters. He was pensioned from stud duty in 2011.

Every stallion farm must look to the future in anticipation of spotting the next elite sires that will move the industry forward, and over the past couple of years, Lane’s End has made some choice acquisitions. Those include Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Liam’s Map, Belmont Stakes winners Union Rags and Tonalist, and Metropolitan Handicap winner Honor Code (who Lane’s End raced, with partners), for starters.

The unquestioned star of the roster at this moment is expected to add a Horse of the Year honor to his offspring’s accomplishments very soon. Candy Ride, whose domination of the 2003 Pacific Classic will live forever in the memories of those who witnessed it, was already an elite sire before Gun Runner emerged in 2016, but that horse’s evolution into the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner has raised Candy Ride’s profile considerably.

Candy Ride at Lane's End. (Anne Eberhardt Keogh/BloodHorse )

For pedigree connoisseurs of the globe-trotting variety, one of the more intriguing stallions standing at Lane’s End is Noble Mission, a multiple stakes winner in Europe who is a full brother (same sire [father] and dam [mother]) to the young English stallion Frankel, who was the top-ranked racehorse in the world during his brilliant career.

On the racing side, Lane’s End should be prominent throughout the Triple Crown season, as they campaign recent Mucho Macho Man Stakes winner Mask, one of the top Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve contenders based in Florida.

For the Thoroughbred breeding sector in Kentucky and other states to thrive, horse racing needs to thrive, and marketing the sport to younger generations is an industry-wide challenge that a growing number of owners, breeders, track operators, and other organizations are tackling head on. Lane’s End is no exception. The farm is a major presence on social media, and it’s involved – through sponsorship, support, or both – in practically every big-ticket event in the game as well as in tourism initiatives such as Horse Country.

“We look at the big days as being a great place to market the farm, certainly the Breeders’ Cup and the Pegasus, and Dubai and Royal Ascot, and all of these big events are really doing very well, and that’s what’s really working in our industry,” Bill Farish, general manager of Lane’s End and the son of Will Farish, said at a recent press event.  “And we need to keep promoting those, and hopefully others are doing the same, and they are, so that’s our outlook on it.”

Thoroughbred sales in 2017 continued to tally financial gains in a general upward trend that started in the aftermath of the 2007-'08 recession. Likewise, total wagering on horse racing in the U.S. is inching higher over the last three years, albeit at a lower trajectory. With a buzzing economy heading into 2018, David Ingordo, bloodstock manager for Lane’s End, sees marketing horse racing in bold ways (such as introducing a new world’s richest race in the Pegasus World Cup) as a crucial investment that’s already starting to pay off, particularly in attracting young owners.

“I personally feel there’s a lot more interest in racing than mainstream media gives it, internally,” he said. “I have a lot of friends that are younger that are all geared up for the Pegasus, and they’re starting to make enough money that they can play. So I think there’s a lot more interest in the game.”

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