The Bluegrass

Homes of the Stars – Part 2

Posted on February 21, 2008. Filed under: Bloodhorse.com, farm tours, horse stories, horses, KY, Lexington, Smarty Jones, The Bluegrass, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Remember Smarty Jones? (A picture would be nice here, wouldn’t it? ;-> Sorry – workin’ on it! 🙂 )

Smarty won the hearts of millions in his bid for the 2004 Triple Crown. Was it his comeback story from a nearly-devastating skull fracture the year before? Or his charming senior owners, The Chapmans, who showed us that dreams can come true? Or the way he ran with his ears pinned flat against his head, as if he knew about aerodynamics?

Well, fans who plan ahead, can visit Smarty. I probably should add that you shouldn’t try to pet him, unless his groom gives permission. We’ll cover horse farm tour etiquette in Part 4. (Don’t worry, it’s not complicated. Just some common sense.)

Anyway, Smarty now leads the life of a breeding stallion at Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, KY, which is between Lexington and Louisville. The farm offers tours by appointment only.

I remember that when Smarty’s retirement was imminent, the Chapmans toured the Bluegrass farms in search of the best home, according to articles I read in The Bloodhorse.com. One of their requirements was that Smarty retire to a farm where his fans could visit him. Three Chimneys fit the bill. So, a prospective visitor wanting to see Smarty Jones needs to make an appointment. The Three Chimneys website has a link for contact info to reserve tours.

Keep in mind that Smarty is a man in demand, both for human visitors and his dates with The Ladies, which is his real job. There are certain times of year that his human visitor appointment calendar is booked up: the week leading up to the first Saturday in May (KY Derby time) and when events are scheduled at the nearby racetrack Keeneland. Plus, the farm is open for tours probably during limited hours on selected days. “Book early” is good advice to avoid disappointment.

But what if Smarty’s people say he’s tied up (or booked up?) Well, there are plenty of other stars in the Bluegrass.

Finding them will be the topic of tomorrow’s installment, part 3.

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Homes of the Stars – Part 1

Posted on February 20, 2008. Filed under: blogs, farm tours, horses, Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP), KY, Lexington, The Bluegrass | Tags: , , , , , |

Let’s say that you’re a fan of Michael Jordan. And let’s say that you find out that he offers “calling hours” every so often in his home. Wouldn’t you like to know more?

Well, if you’re a fan of champion thoroughbred race horses and if that horse is retired in the Lexington, KY, area, you just might be able to go visit him. Some of the farms, although fewer and fewer, accept visitors by appointment. After all, these are still working farms. And breeding thoroughbred horses is big business.

But so is equine tourism – to the tune of $8.8 billion dollars a year, according to the Kentucky Equine Education Project. The Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau offers tourists a page of info on touring the farms. Visitors have a variety of options, ranging from group tours to independently arranging tours with the farms themselves.

Even if you don’t have a favorite horse to see, visiting the farms is a wonderful experience. Many farms are distinctive architectural wonders in themselves. Plus, the farm employees tend to be appreciative of their charges and happy to see interest in them.I tend to prefer calling individual farms myself. My next post tomorrow will cover ways to set up a tour.

(Bear with me. I’m still finding photos and learning this photo isnertion thing. 🙂 Thanks for your patience.)

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