Saturday, July 17, 2010

Stable Spotlight: Darley/Jonabell Farm

Darley/Jonabell Farm, Lexington, Kentucky

Located on 780 acres in the beautiful rolling landscape of southwest Lexington, Kentucky, Jonabell Farm is an equine development for Darley Stud. This farm is home to more than 170 thoroughbreds and accommodates all aspects of equine life. Jonabell’s history dates back to 1946 when it was started by noted horse breeder John A. Bell III, who it was originally named for. During his tenure, the farm was home to several important stallions, most notably 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed. In 2001, it was bought by Darley (owned by by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and vice-president of the United Arab Emirates) as their breeding operation, though it retains the Jonabell name. He and his junior wife, Her Royal Highness Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, daughter of King Hussein of Jordan, are both very involved in horses. She rode for the Jordanian show jumping team in the 2000 Olympics. He oversees a global breeding operation in six countries. Jonabell serves as the sheik’s stallion operation; among the 15 stallions standing at stud on the farm are the 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense and his rival Hard Spun, Bernardini, and top American stallions Medaglia d'Oro (Rachel Alexandra's daddy) and Street Cry (Zenyatta's sire). Darley has the distinction of being the only farm with the sires of four Kentucky Derby winners standing at stud at the same time. A stud fee, at Darley, ranges from $7,500 to $150,000.

Darley is spotless. Every inch of the breeding barn is pressure-cleaned each morning before the stallions are brought in to take care of business.

main stallion barn at Darley

Not only has Sheik Mohammed been the leading buyer at the September yearlings sales over the past eight years, spending $245.6 million, but he has also built a commercial breeding and racing business here that is poised to rule the sport the way the legendary Calumet Farm did in the 1940s and 1950s. In 1998 he took possession of Raceland, near Paris. He purchased that 650-acre farm from the Hancock family's Claiborne Farm. His brother, Sheikh Hamdan, owns Shadwell Farm, including its Nashwan Stud division, which is very close to Jonabell. A third brother, Sheikh Maktoum, owns Gainsborough Farm in nearby Woodford County.

The classic white wooden fences crisscrossing the undulating bluegrass are a thing of the past at Darley. The farm uses new-age plastic/vinyl/rubber fencing to protect the horses.
Affirmed, the 1978 Triple Crown winner and the last thoroughbred to accomplish the feat, was buried whole standing up, and facing the viewer, directly under his statue at Darley along with the familiar flamingo pink and black silks of owner/breeder Lou and Patrice Wolfson's Harbor View Farm. Thirty years ago, he gave his sport not just its last Triple Crown, but an amazing rivalry with a horse named Alydar. Even though Affirmed died before the sheik acquired the farm, he wanted to make sure the legendary stallion had a fitting memorial. Affirmed lived in reverence until January 2001 and the age of 26.

2010 Fee: $150,000 STANDS AND NURSES, Sire of Undefeated Zenyatta, Champion Street Sense and Multiple Record Breaker Street Boss


Horse Gal said...

Wow! That's pretty cool... and beautiful!

My horse's grandfather is Alydar. :)
I saw the name in your post and a light-bulb went off in my head. :)

Springfield Stables said...

Great blog! I rode one of Affirmed babies many years ago. Lots of talent in that line.

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