Tony Holmes: New Zealand to Kentucky
Friday, June 14, 2013 Share on Facebook RSS Feeds

Tony Holmes: New Zealand to Kentucky

Tony & Susan Holmes' Marula Park Stud

Tony Holmes, born in Christchurch, New Zealand, dreamed of coming to Kentucky to become more involved in the Thoroughbred business.  Before landing in Kentucky, he worked as a mechanical engineer apprentice, worked at a large mining town in outback Western Australia, after which he worked on dairy farms in New Zealand.  After time spent on dairy farms, he began employment in the Thoroughbred industry working his first breeding season in New Zealand followed by a breeding season on a farm in Australia.

On coming to Kentucky, Mr. Holmes explained, “In 1984, Tim Thornton imported me.”  He and Mr. Thornton were connected through a farm manager in Australia.  He worked for Mr. Thornton at Threave Main Stud for a breeding season, then for Dr. Walter Zent as a veterinarian assistant for another breeding season.  Mr. Holmes considers Mr. Thornton and Dr. Zent to be his mentors.  He also noted, “The special thing is Dr. Zent & Tim Thornton, my former bosses and mentors, are now my biggest partners and my best friends.”  After working for them, he managed a few farms in Lexington before going out on his own.

Twenty-five years ago, Mr. Holmes and his wife, Susan, started their own commercial breeding farm, Marula Park Stud.  Marula Park Stud is a private commercial breeding farm located in north Lexington where they currently have 21 Thoroughbred broodmares owned by Holmes or in partnerships.  While Marula Park Stud is a commercial Thoroughbred breeding farm, they also breed and race Standardbreds, as Mr. Holmes’ grandfather did in New Zealand.  They currently own shares with Dr. Zent in Standardbred stallions and have five Standardbred broodmares, also in partnership with Dr. Zent, on the farm.  Mr. & Mrs. Holmes live on the farm and have two children, Sarah and Michael.  Sarah is 24 years old and is currently taking the Irish National Stud breeding course.  Michael is 21 years old and an accounting major.

Scenic view overlooking the farm

Tony Holmes has had breeding success with Breeders’ Cup winners in Stevie Wonderboy (winner of the 2005 G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and 2005 G2 Del Mar Futurity) and Dangerous Midge (winner of the 2010 G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf and 2010 G3 Dubai Duty Free Arc Trial).  Other prominent breeding success includes Zanjero (winner of the 2008 G2 Indiana Derby, 2008 G3 West Virginia Derby, and 2009 G2 Kentucky Cup Classic) and most recently Rumor (winner of the 2013 G3 Las Flores Stakes).

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