Breeders Cup Success for Clarkland Farm
Author: Melissa Nolan
Thursday, November 8, 2012 Share on Facebook RSS Feeds

The cheers emanating from Clarkland Farm for Beholder in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on November 2nd may have been heard clear into neighboring counties throughout Central Kentucky as the filly crossed the finish line first at Santa Anita Race Track in Arcadia, California.  The palpable excitement was due to the fact that the team at Clarkland Farm was responsible for mating, foaling, and raising the championship-caliber filly.  In winning her prior race in October, the Kentucky-bred Beholder, trained by Hall of Famer trainer Richard Mandella and owned by Spendthrift Farm, was awarded the fastest ThoroGraph number (negative 2) ever awarded to a 2 year old filly.  Beholder proceeded to verify that quality by running a gallant race on the lead in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies to win by a length over fast closing Executivepriveledge, and en route secured the winner’s share of a $2,000,000 purse as well as concurrently earning her first G1 victory.

Clarkland Farm is a modest operation off of Bryan Station Road in northern Fayette County.  Though it may lack the ostentatious feel of some of its breeding farm contemporaries, the history of the land comprising Clarkland Farm and the success of the thoroughbreds that have grazed upon it more than makes up for any lack of glamour.  In fact, the utilitarian feel only reminds the visitor of the home-grown nature of this operation.

Sitting on one of the highest points in Fayette County, the current composition of Clarkland Farm encompasses several hundred acres and those acres support the roughly 40 mares and their accompanying foals at peak season.  The farm also cares for a small number of lay-up horses and raises steak cattle.  The patriarch of the land, Fred Mitchell, is also an avid outdoorsman and has in the past bred, trained, and competed top-level hunting dogs.  The lineage of Clarkland Farm traces through Fred’s wife, Nancy, whose family has owned the land since the 1700s.  Fred, Nancy, their daughter Marty, and a handful of employees run daily business of the farm and they all have a hand in caring for the animals that are nurtured by the land’s rich and sustaining Bluegrass.  Beholder is just one of the numerous stakes winner bred and raised by Clarkland Farms over the years. 

Statistics graciously provided by Brisnet.com illustrate the quantitative success the Mitchells and Clarkland Farm have enjoyed.  The chart below show that over the last 28 years as a commercial thoroughbred breeding operation, the Mitchells and their team have bred no less than 20 stakes winners from 290 foals, and cumulatively those foals have earned $14,753,965 on the racetrack and countless additional revenue in the auction arena.

Totals 1983-2010





Foals

290

Starters/foals

90.00%

Avg Earnings/Yr

$526,927.32

Starters

261

Winners/starters

75.10%

Foals/Yr

9.67

Winners

196

Winners/foals

67.59%

Earnings/foal

$50,875.74

Stakes Winners

20

SWs/foals

6.90%

Avg Earnings: Foal/Yr

$54,509.72

Purse Money

$14,753,965

SWs/starters

7.66%

 

~1.93 foals/employee

The farm secured Beholder’s dam, Leslie’s Lady, for $100,000 at the Keeneland 2006 November Breeding Stock Sale from the dispersal of the Estate of Jim Hines, Jr.  The buy proved savvy as the mare’s 2005 foal, a colt named Into Mischief by Harlan’s Holiday, would go on to take the 2007 G1 Cash Call Futurity for Spendthrift Farm. 

Leslie’s Lady was purchased in-foal to Orientate and the Mitchells decided to send the mare to Rockport Harbor after she foaled in Spring 2007.  The resulting 2008 foal, a colt named One World, is currently in training for Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Moss and has a win and a third from three starts.  Leslie’s Lady was sent back to Harlan’s Holiday in Spring 2008 and delivered a full sister to Into Mischief, later named Florida Holiday, in April 2009.  That spring, Leslie’s Lady was covered by Henny Hughes and the filly she foaled in 2010 was Beholder.  Based on its success with Into Mischief, Spendthrift Farm returned to the Clarkland Farm well and purchased Beholder for $180,000 at the 2011 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

In addition to Beholder, another recent major stakes winner Clarkland Farm bred and raised is Californian stakes winner The Pamplemousse.  The Mitchells purchased the colt’s dam, Comfort Zone, for $47,000 at the 2003 Keeneland November Sale after noticing her in the walking ring.  The mare was in-foal to Dixie Union at the time.  Comfort Zone did foal in 2004 but failed to become pregnant for the following spring.  The mare was bred to Kafwain in 2005 and the resulting foal in 2006 was The Pamplemousse.  As a yearling, The Pamplemousse fetched $80,000 at Fasig Tipton July and was pinhooked as a two year old in training at the 2008 OBS March Sale for $150,000.  The speedy colt went on to capture the 2009 G3 Sham S. and G3 San Rafael S. but soundness issues kept him off the Triple Crown trail that year and ultimately forced his retirement in 2010.  The Pamplemousse now stands in California and his first crop was born this past spring.

Fred says the first foals by their homebred The Pamplemousse are “large” and “good boned”, just like colt himself.  They do not have any foals sired by him on the farm, but if they did it would fit the farm’s strategy of having the mare make the stallion rather than the reverse.  As is evidenced by the stallions to which Clarkland send its mares, overbreeding is something the Mitchells are very conscious of and Fred and Nancy made it clear they’d rather send their mare to the $15,000 stallion than the $50,000 stallion.  They do, though, have a few foals by higher priced stallions and mentioned a 2012 colt by Curlin out of Leslie’s Lady as an example, who sold at the 2012 September Sale for $300,000.  An additional hip offered by Clarkland at the recently concluded Keeneland September Sale was a ½ to The Pamplemousse.  The filly went for $65,000. Mitchells are also very fond of Congrats and have also returned to Into Mischief’s sire, Harlan’s Holiday, with regularity over the past five years.

After spending any amount of time at Clarkland Farm, it is clear that the Mitchell’s and their team take great pride in the animals they raise and derive great joy out of seeing them be successful on both the track and in the sales ring.  Though mainly a commercial operation, Fred and Nancy, are more than willing to race their horses that don’t sell or try and place the non-runners with deserving homes.  The Mitchells have won their share of races at Kentucky tracks and are great friends with many of the major owners on this circuit, such as Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Klein out of Louisville, for whom they also board a number of mares.

With Clarkland Farm’s history, success, and traditional hands-on approach it is apparent why mare owners such as the Kleins and auction clients such as Samantha Siegel and Spendthrift Farm continue to buy and support thoroughbreds bred and raised by that operation.  Raising a good horse is in their blood over at Clarkland Farm and that proud and long culture of successful horsemanship is just one more example of how Kentucky breeds quality for the future.


The field breaks from the gate in the 2012 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies race.

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