Blackwood Stables in Versailles, Kentucky, is part of the long tradition of excellence in raising and training Thoroughbreds in the Bluegrass region, with several graduates from the renowned Irish National Stud program, including one of the farm’s two owners, and a 6-furlong training track that was developed by the same team that converted Keeneland’s track back to a dirt surface recently. The track is also accredited, so horses that train there can have published works from their time at Blackwood Stables.

The office overlooking the training track also reflects the tradition they strive to attain, with framed win photos of several top graduates of their program, and horse paintings of past greats or famous scenes, including a 1920 painting by J. Martin of Man o’ War under saddle on a track. Leofric, last year’s Clark Handicap winner, is one of their more recent graduates to achieve graded stakes glory. They also have a horse on the Derby trail currently.


A painting in the office overlooking the track

The operation primarily takes in client horses, sent by owners, trainers, or vets. None of the horses are under the care of outside trainers during their time at Blackwood, as the entire regimen is managed by the farm staff. Co-owner Matthew Hogan accompanies the racehorses to the track on a pony. The first sets to go out each day are horses that are three and up, since they spend the most time in the barn and are ready for the exercise by the time morning comes around.



Warming up before going to the training track


One of the definite advantages of being a privately owned training facility, instead of being based at a public track, is that adjustments to start times for training can be pushed back later in the morning if needed due to weather, and can go on much later in the day. Typically, in the winter months, they try to start at 8 a.m. and finish by noon, but there is a lot of flexibility to start or finish later when necessary.

They also take in yearlings to break, and horses on layups. There is a high-speed treadmill on site, and plans to expand into more therapeutic features later this year, including a cold water spa.

On the yearling side, a short distance away from the barns where the older horses are stabled near the training track, the younger horses get a lot of turn-out time, with fillies in groups and colts turned out individually. The yearling barn also has resident pig Pickles, adopted from the Lexington Humane Society, and a few miniature horses.


Young horses enjoying turnout time


One of the resident mini horses