Monday, March 4, 2013

Back to The Shed ~ A Trip to Airdrie and Proud Citizen

Guest Blogger Lindsay Hunter writes about delivering a mare to Proud Citizen, who stands at the famous Airdrie Stud, owned by Kentucky's former Gov. Brereton Jones and his wife, Libby.  

Airdrie Stud 2/26/13

I flicked one eye open and looked at the red glow of the bedside clock. Time to get rolling. Tickled the Corgis sleeping at my feet and let them out the back door. Rustling around, I dressed and dabbed on a little makeup. The dogs ate their kibble, and Bailey very pointedly went back to her bed. It was pitch dark out. The Corgis, Solo and Millie, were a bit more enthusiastic, but as soon as I put the big Ford in gear, they stretched out beside me and went back to sleep.
Over the hills and through the dales, we soon arrived at the main barn. I was greeted by a Eskimo lookalike, bundled up against the chilly morning air. 
Mare loaded, we set out across town for Airdrie Stud, one of the prettiest and oldest farms in Kentucky. Winding along the grey ribbon of Old Frankfort Pike, trees etched sharply against the pre dawn light, past Three Chimneys , past the converted old tollhouse right next to the blacktop that now is home to Wallace Station, a remarkable place to eat just outside of Midway, we were soon turning through the stone pillars of Airdrie. 
Former Kentucky Governor Brereton C. Jones and his wife, Libby, began Airdrie in 1972, on family land that was part of the famous Woodburn Farm, home to the stallion, Lexington, America’s Leading Sire for 16 years at the end of the 19th Century, and also the home of 5 Kentucky Derby winners. Airdrie rambles across 2500 acres, and has the distinction of having bred 140 Stakes Winners with collective earnings of over $80 million.
Our mare is booked to Proud Citizen, a son of Gone West, who won the Coolmore Lexington Stakes at Keeneland, and as a three year old, placed in both the 2002 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, two legs of the elusive Triple Crown of racing. Now 13, he has sired not one, but two winners of the prestigious Kentucky Oaks for fillies, Proud Spell and Believe You Can. 
The big pinto draft bred teaser verifies that the mare is ripe for breeding, and she’s prepped and tagged with a card with her name and Proud Citizen’s name, so there can be no mistakes as to who she is to be bred to.
Tim Thornton brings the playful stallion into the breeding shed, and the crew set the mare up for him, one steadies her head with shank and twitch, one is positioned to keep her tail out of the way of the plunging stallion. Quietly, with no fuss, Proud Citizen takes care of business, and soon we are back on the road. 
Often in the early spring mornings, the road is blocked by deer between the stone walls of Airdrie and Woodburn, but perhaps because of the chill, they have stayed out of sight. It’s a pretty long drive out to Airdrie, so since this is a single mare, I make a quick stop to grab a latte’ and a danish to satisfy my rumbling tummy. Soon we are back to the home farm, a three hour turnaround, and the mare is ready to unload and spend the rest of the day in the fields with her buddies.

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