Visit Horse Country: Building a Winning Tradition at Stonestreet

The Life
Thoroughbred foals at Stonestreet Farm in central Kentucky. (Courtesy of Stonestreet Farm)

Stonestreet Farm in central Kentucky has enjoyed a great deal of success at Thoroughbred racing’s highest level in a relatively short amount of time. Today, the farm founded by the late Jess Stonestreet Jackson is a full-service operation with breeding, training, and racing divisions. That growth was aided by two astute decisions Jackson made shortly after buying the former Buckram Oak estate in eastern Fayette County in 2005.

Jackson, who over the three prior decades had built Jackson Family Wines into a popular and award-winning business, applied the same discerning eye in early 2007 when purchasing a controlling stake in a strapping Smart Strike colt following his debut win at Gulfstream Park in February. The 3-year-old racehorse, named Curlin, would go on to win two Kentucky Derby prep races and then finish third in the Derby before winning the Preakness Stakes. After finishing a close second in the Belmont Stakes, Curlin won seven out of his remaining 10 starts, including the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic and 2008 Dubai World Cup, and was voted Horse of the Year in 2007 and 2008.

Two years after purchasing an interest in Curlin, Jess Jackson caught lightning in a bottle again, this time with a filly. Stonestreet bought majority ownership of 3-year-old Rachel Alexandra immediately after she won the 2009 Kentucky Oaks by 20 ¼ lengths. Two weeks later, Jackson sent his new horse to the Preakness Stakes to take on males, and Rachel Alexandra prevailed. By this time a budding superstar, Rachel would go on to win three more stakes races that summer, including the Haskell Invitational against males of her age group and the Woodward Stakes against older males. She was a clear choice as Horse of the Year in 2009.

Curlin and Rachel Alexandra paved the way for Stonestreet’s full immersion into the world of Thoroughbred racing and breeding in the years to follow. In 2011, Stonestreet’s homebred My Miss Aurelia won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and was named champion 2-year-old female. Since then, Stonestreet has campaigned numerous other stakes winners either as sole owner or in partnership, including Ogden Phipps Stakes winner Cavorting, Charles Town Classic winner Stanford, and Blue Grass Stakes winner Carpe Diem. Stonestreet currently co-owns 2017 champion 2-year-old male and 2018 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve runner-up Good Magic with e Five Racing Thoroughbreds and 2017 English Group 1 winner Lady Aurelia with Peter Leidel.

Courtesy of Stonestreet Farm

Jess Jackson passed away in April 2011, but his legacy as a forward-thinking businessman and supporter of the Thoroughbred industry has endured through wife Barbara Banke’s stewardship of Stonestreet Stables and Stonestreet Farm. At its location on Old Frankfort Pike just east of Lexington, Stonestreet houses a large broodmare band, including the aforementioned Rachel Alexandra, Cavorting, and My Miss Aurelia. The yearling program, located at another property near Versailles, Ky., offers first-class facilities, nutrition, and care for youngsters as they prepare for the sales, where Stonestreet is a perennial industry leader in gross receipts. And while it does not stand any sires, Stonestreet holds stallion interests in, among others, its benchmark horse Curlin, Ghostzapper, Maclean’s Music, and Carpe Diem.

Stonestreet also operates the Training and Rehabilitation Center in Ocala, Fla., where it sends its young horses after the yearling auctions to learn the basics of competition as they prepare for their racing careers at age 2. And the business is committed to caring for all of its horses, sending most of those Thoroughbreds who will not be bred after their racing careers are finished to the New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program for re-training.

Tours at Stonestreet are based at their two Old Frankfort Pike locations – the one mentioned above and a farm in Woodford Co. close to I-64. They last about an hour and are held June through October. During June, July, and August, visitors can experience the Nursery tour, where they will be driven around the property and watch foals as they take their first steps toward independence and physical development. Guests will be able to exit the van during this tour to walk through Stonestreet’s barns and watch mares and foals interact.

During August, September, and October, guests can experience the Matriarchs & Maidens tour, which showcases Stonestreet’s broodmare band as they relax and enjoy one another’s company following the conclusion of the breeding season. Active broodmares are joined by first-time expectant mothers recently retired from racing as well as pensioned broodmares as they explore the rolling farm landscape. Stonestreet does not guarantee that tour guests will get to see any of their famous retired racemares during the visit, due to the requirements of daily schedules.

Both tours offer visitors a history of Stonestreet, give a behind-the-scenes look at the daily routine of a multi-purpose Thoroughbred farm, and express Stonestreet’s commitment to applying the same practices Jess Jackson used in his winemaking business toward breeding, raising, and racing world-class horses. Click here to schedule a tour.

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