College students and Thoroughbreds learn from each other at University of Kentucky
Among the myriad of consignors at Fasig-Tipton's February sale this year was the University of Kentucky, which operates a small breeding program at its Agricultural Experiment Station commonly known as Maine Chance Farm. Although the program produces Thoroughbreds and sells them commercially, its primary goals are to give students practical experience handling horses and to generate breeding stock for nutrition, parasitology, and physiology studies.
Seven to nine students, some of them animal science majors, some pre-vet majors, work at the farm from foaling season through sales season each year to get a look at the full production cycle of a typical breeding farm.
“It encompasses the industry as a model from beginning to the end,” said Bryan Cassill, farm manager at Maine Chance told Thoroughbred blog Talk of the Track.
Mares, stallions, and stallion seasons are donated to the farm, which has received tremendous support from the industry in recent years.
Students who work at Maine Chance take an assigned yearling through the process of sales prep for several weeks, and show them for potential buyers at Fasig-Tipton's October and February sales. Many students track their horse's progress after it is sold. Two of the program's horses are stakes-placed.
“I came to the University not knowing a lot about horses, and Maine Chance has been my way of learning the ins and outs of the business,” said Matt, a senior at UK.
The farm property was originally owned by Elizabeth Arden in the 1960s and includes many of the original buildings, which are still in use.