I toured one of Kentucky's most legendary horse farms, where horses live in immaculate barns, security teams sweep the grounds at night, and Secretariat is buried. Here's what it looks like.

Business Insider Lifestyle 1 month ago

In Lexington, Kentucky, horses are a way of life.

With more than 450 horse farms in the region, Lexington is known as "the horse capital of the world." It's also home to Keeneland, the world's largest thoroughbred auction house.

Riley Kirn of Bluegrass Sotheby's International Realty described Lexington's horse farms as "kind of like English country estates" with huge, stately homes and "barns that don't look like barns."

"We call them farms, but I tell people to think of them more as estates or ranches because they're just massive," Mary Quinn Ramer, president of VisitLex, or the Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau, said.

And Claiborne Farm is considered to be a step above the rest.

"[Claiborne Farm] is absolutely stunning [and has a] very winning track record in terms of what they do for the thoroughbred industry," Ramer said.

I got a tour of Claiborne Farm one morning — here's what it looks like.

Lexington, Kentucky and its surroundings are known as the "horse capital of the world."

One of the Lexington area's most prestigious horse farms is Claiborne Farm, a 109-year-old thoroughbred farm in the town of Paris, about 20 miles from Lexington.

On a recent September morning, I drove out to Claiborne from Lexington. The road took me through bucolic farmland.

I got to Claiborne Farm at about 9:45 a.m. and made my way down a long driveway lined with tall trees.

Claiborne Farm has been home to some of the most legendary racehorses in history, including Secretariat, whose 1973 Belmont Stakes victory is often still considered one f the greatest achievements in the history of horse racing.

Seabiscuit, the underdog racehorse who became a beloved champion, grew up and was trained at Claiborne Farm.

Upon arriving at the farm, I parked my rental car and followed the directions to the Visitors Center. Claiborne Farm offers guided tours that start at $20 and can cost upwards of $600.

The farm has a small visitors center with bathrooms and a gift shop.

Claiborne Farm, which sits on more than 3,000 acres, has about 20 miles of roads and driveways, 50 barns, and 100 miles of fences.

Our first stop on the tour was the breeding shed, part of Claiborne's stallion complex.

The horse breeding industry is a huge money-maker for farms like Claiborne.

The barns where the stallions live at Claiborne are painted bright white with yellow-gold trim and shingled roofs.

The first stallion John brought out was a 7-year-old former racehorse named Runhappy. The stallion is about 1,400 pounds and bred with 125 mares this year.

Each member of the tour group got the chance to approach Runhappy and stroke his shoulder.

Inside the barn, we said hello to Orb, the Kentucky Derby winner in 2013.

The inside of the stallion barns was immaculate.

The barns even had what can only be described as horse-specific amenities.

And in addition to the grain and water buckets, each horse has its own salt block to lick in its stall.

Shiny golden placards on the stalls denote the name of each stallion.

Toward the end of the tour, we got to meet Claiborne's most precious and expensive stallion: War Front. Each time War Front successfully breeds with a mare, the farm makes $250,000.

This year, War Front bred with 81 mares and brought in $10 million in revenue for the farm.

In a small, simple cemetery behind the farm office, 22 of Claiborne's most legendary horses are buried, including five Kentucky Derby winners.

Secretariat, considered one of the greatest racehorses to ever live, was buried at Claiborne in his entirety.

After my tour of Claiborne, I was blown away by the attention and effort that goes into caring for thoroughbreds — and the money made from breeding them.

Tags: Life

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