Pin Oak Stud, located near Versailles, Ky., is the epitome of a family-owned, startup Thoroughbred farm that built its way from modest beginnings to international success. Owner Josephine Abercrombie has been involved with horses for nearly her entire life, and she’s channeled that passion into operating a multi-service business known for its high standards in both breeding and racing Thoroughbreds.
Pin Oak’s origins begin in the mid-20th century, where Josephine Abercrombie, already an accomplished Saddlebred rider during her youth, purchased some yearlings with her father, Houston oilman J.S. Abercrombie, and soon after bought land in Woodford Co. – the heart of Kentucky’s Bluegrass region – and founded Pin Oak in 1951.
The farm initially raised cattle, tobacco, and food crops, but the Abercrombies also started a Thoroughbred racing stable and found success early and often through the next 25-plus years with horses such as Elocutionist, Touching Wood, and Roman Patrol.
Josephine Abercrombie expanded into breeding during the 1980s, turning a 750-acre hunting preserve close to the existing Pin Oak into a stud farm. As with its racing division, Pin Oak’s stallion band to be proved successful and influential within the highly competitive central Kentucky breeding sector, led by prominent sires Sky Classic (an Eclipse Award-winning turf star racehorse), Peaks and Valleys, and Maria’s Mon. Maria’s Mon sired two Kentucky Derby winners in 2001 victor Monarchos, who recorded the second-fastest winning time ever in the Derby, and 2010 champ Super Saver.
Currently, Pin Oak stands two stallions: successful veteran Broken Vow and promising Alternation, both Pin Oak homebreds and multiple stakes winners. The latter made headlines on Sept. 15 when his daughter Serengeti Empress won the Grade 3 Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill Downs by a record-setting 19 ½ lengths. That filly, who is from Alternation’s second crop as a sire, earned a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on Nov. 2 at Churchill with the victory. Limation, from Alternation’s first crop, recently won the Grade 3 Super Derby.
Josephine Abercrombie and Pin Oak have received numerous honors through the past half-century-plus, including the National Thoroughbred Breeder of the Year Award from the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association in 1995 and the William T. Young Humanitarian Award from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association/Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders in 2012. This Friday, Sept. 28, Abercrombie will be recognized by the Thoroughbred Club of America for her contributions to the industry as the 2018 Honor Guest during the Club's 87th Testimonial Dinner at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky.
Tours of Pin Oak are conducted through Horse Country and are offered on Thursdays and Fridays this October at 11 a.m. ET. Stallion visits are not guaranteed but may occur based on availability. The Pin Oak tour winds through the farm’s picturesque grounds and, during the fall, offers visitors the chance to encounter yearlings as they prep for auction and begin the early stages of training.