Blackwood Stables in Versailles, Ky., epitomizes the sort of small, versatile, well-run business that has made the central Bluegrass region of Kentucky the epicenter of the Thoroughbred breeding industry.
The 350-acre farm, founded in 2012 by Matthew Hogan and Guinness McFadden, is a one-stop training center for racehorses featuring a six-furlong dirt track, one-mile uphill turf course for galloping, and one-mile all-weather course. Blackwood also offers breaking services for racehorses-to-be, supervised by Irish National Stud graduate Hogan, and rehabilitation services that include cutting-edge medical technology as well as 40 one-acre turnout paddocks and 15 larger (more than 10 acres) areas. All timed workouts on Blackwood’s dirt track are accredited via the Kentucky Racing Commission and are published in a horse’s past performances listed in racing programs.
Blackwood conducts all on-site training through its own program rather than renting out stalls for other trainers. This allows for Blackwood to better manage each horse as an individual according to its own philosophy, as McFadden explained in a 2017 BloodHorse profile of the farm. That said, accessibility is a hallmark of the facility, with owners, veterinarians, and other individuals associated with each horse often present on the grounds as training proceeds.
Blackwood boasts an impressive list of training graduates that have gone on to win major stakes races in recent years, including 2019 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve winner Country House, who was bred and co-owned by McFadden’s late uncle Joseph Shields and is now co-owned by McFadden and his aunt Maury Shields along with LNJ Foxwoods.
Other notable graduates include four-time graded stakes winner, millionaire, and 2019 Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff contender Paradise Woods and Grade 1 winner Salty, who sold for $3 million as a broodmare prospect at the Fasig-Tipton November sale last year.
Tours of Blackwood are offered through Horse Country and are a truly educational experience, taking visitors through the steps of developing a racehorse. The tours are offered for individuals and/or groups up to 14 and last one hour. For more information, click here.