The US state of Kentucky may be famous for hosting the Kentucky Derby horse racing, but the state is also renowned for being home to peaceful horse farms. Many of them are located in an area of central Kentucky known as the Bluegrass region. This region is home to the vibrant city of Lexington and the state capital of Frankfort. Here are the horse farms you should visit for what to do in Kentucky.
Sun Valley Farm
Sun Valley Farm is located on New Cut Road around halfway between Frankfort, Kentucky’s capital, and Versailles. The beautiful residence that you see on this horse farm was built in 1831 by Samuel Pepper who was the son of prominent bourbon distiller, Elijah Pepper. Elijah built his bourbon distillery just across the lane from the horse farm. It now operates as the Woodford Reserve Distillery.
The appearance of the residence on the horse farm has remained unchanged from its mid 19th century days. The horse farm is now owned and operated by Barry and Jan Butzer and their son, Brett. This horse farm focuses on the mares who have been known to breed world-class racing horses. The horse mothers are called dams. This horse farm has been known to sell the dams of more than 200 stakes horses worldwide.
That is the most of any horse enterprise in the state of Kentucky. Some dams that had been sold include these of Harlan’s Holiday, Heritage of Gold, Kodiak Kowboy, Kudos, Saga Novel, Raise Suzuran, and Tour of the Cat. All of these horses have won at least one million dollars for their owners. Barry and Jan’s son, Brett, handles the tours at Sun Valley Farm.
On your tour of the horse farm, you can observe the mares and their baby horses (called foals) out on the scenic pastures, see the nursery where the mares and their newly born foals bond with each other, and get a better understanding of the breeding process that the mares go through. The tours will go for $20 for adults and $15 for children. You can go here to book your tour of the horse farm.
Claiborne Farm is located on Winchester Road in Paris, a small town about thirty minutes drive northeast of Lexington. This is another one of the lovely horse farms you will want to visit. Claiborne Farm was the recipient of the prestigious Readers’ Choice Award for #1 Horse Farm by the Lexington Herald-Leader newspaper in 2018.
This horse farm has been owned and operated by four generation of Hancock men. Walker Hancock currently owns and runs the horse farm. He took over in 2015 from his father, Seth Hancock, who is still alive. While Sun Valley Farm focuses on the mares who give births to world-class racing horse, Claiborne Farm focuses on the stallions and their offsprings – both of which are renowned racing horses.
So, horse racing fans should be pleased with the opportunity to observe some of these famous racing horses in person. They include War Front, Orb, Runhappy, and Blame. In the more than 100 years that Claiborne Farm has been in operation, more than 300 champion racing horses have been sired (fathered) by stallions who had lived there at some point in its history. That include six of the thirteen Triple Crown winners.
The most famous racing horse to have lived at the horse farm is Secretariat who won the Triple Crown championship in 1973. He died at the horse farm in October of 1989 at the age of nineteen. He is regarded as one of the greatest racing horses of all time. He is currently buried at the horse farm.
This horse farm offer guided walking tours where you can also visit the breeding shed that has given birth to more than eighty champion racing horses, the stalls where some of the most famous racing horses live, and the cemetery where Secretariat is buried. The prices for the tours are $20 for adults and $11 for children aged 12 and under. You can go here to book them.
WinStar Farm is located on Pisgah Pike just northeast of Versailles. This horse farm was established in 2000 by Kenny Troutt and his business partner, Bill Casner. This is the newest horse farm that I have mentioned here in this post. Even though this is a relatively new horse farm, the charming farmhouse along with the pond, smokehouse, bank barn, and Osage orange allee have all been there since the 18th century.
As is the case with Claiborne Farm, this horse farm is known for being home to champion racing horses that roam these lush pastures. That includes Justify who is the most recent Triple Crown champion, having won the championship in 2018. Another notable stallion who resides at the horse farm is Pioneerof the Nile. He is the sire of American Pharoah who was the Triple Crown winner in 2015.
WinStar Farm offers a one hour tour of the property. That includes a visit to the state of the art barn where you can get up and personal with some of these stallions and learn about their daily lives. Another place that you will visit is the breeding shed where a collection of stallions breed at least 2,700 mares annually. The booking fee is $30 per person. You can book your tours here.
These are the horse farms that you should visit for what to do in Kentucky. These horse farms are a staple of the Kentucky countryside.
If you are in need of a hotel to stay at while visiting these lovely horse farms, I am happy to help you out with this. Here are the two hotels that I would suggest for you. Both of these hotels are located in Lexington as I believe the city is the best hub for reaching all three of the horse farms.
Hampton Inn Lexington South-Keeneland/Airport
This hotel is located on Lakecrest Circle near the interchange of US Route 68 and Kentucky Route 4 on Lexington’s west side. There is complimentary breakfast available at the hotel. Should you get hungry, a few nearby restaurants include Bru Burger Bar, Sahara Mediterranean Cuisine, and Texas Roadhouse. The hotel houses an indoor heated swimming pool.
There is also a fitness center available for you to use at the hotel. All of the hotel’s rooms come with WiFi and coffee makers. The average rate for a standard room range from $101 to $208. You can head here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Lexington Dtwn Area-Keenland
This hotel is located on Sharkey Way near the interchange of US Route 421 and Kentucky Route 4 on Lexington’s northwest side. The hotel offers free breakfast. For the hungry, a few nearby dining options include Vinaigrette Salad Kitchen, Mancino’s Pizza, and Thoroughbred Restaurant. The hotel contains a hybrid indoor/outdoor heated swimming pool and hot tub.
A fitness center is also available for your workout needs. All of the hotel’s rooms and suites come with WiFi, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $99 to $197. You can go here to browse your booking options and/or view some photos.
What are your thoughts? Are you looking to experience Kentucky’s Horse Country with these horse farms? Feel free to leave a comment below.