Terri Burch was living in California when her father first hatched a plan to bring her back home to Kentucky. A politician, he helped pass the legislation to create the University of Louisville's Equine Industry Program in 1986.
A long-professed horse lover, Burch was excited about the new program, which would be attached to the university's College of Business as a unique institution which would “provide training and educational opportunities in the horse racing industry.”
University President Donald Swain hired Burch for the program nearly instantaneously after she applied, and 31 ½ years later she continues to watch over the next generation of horse lovers and guide them into equine-related careers.
As much as Burch loves celebrating the accomplishments of her former students, last weekend gave her extra reason to cheer when homebred Instagrand won the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes by an impressive 10 ¼ lengths.
“I'm still walking around on cloud nine,” Burch said, laughing. “I don't think I've come down yet!”
Alongside 20-year business and life partner Jim Stone, Burch handles the operations at his LaGrange-based Stoneway Farm. A product of the Stoneway program, Instagrand lit up the board in the Fasig-Tipton Florida Select juvenile sale when Larry Best laid out $1.2 million for the son of Into Mischief.
Long before those fireworks, it was the “auction-aholic” Stone who attended an estate auction in LaGrange and first purchased the Arabian facility that would eventually become Stoneway Farm. He owned a lot of heavy construction equipment and wanted the space to park his machinery.
A friend told Stone he ought to buy some horses for his new property, and he obliged, taking an Arabian trainer to the Thoroughbred auctions and buying some broodmares. Stone struggled to find good help in the area, however, and eventually his manager reached out to Burch at U of L to ask for assistance.
When Burch went out to meet Stone, she calmed a recently-gelded young horse and gently suggested he purchase mares with stronger pedigrees and physicals. He agreed, and the two have been together ever since.
It was an EIP grad and pedigree fanatic named John Mousis who helped Burch and Stone pick out their first mare, a member of Instagrand's extended family. Each of the three made a short list for the Keeneland April juvenile sale, and one filly was on each of the three lists.
Later named Added Time, the chestnut daughter of Gilded Time commanded $170,000 in the ring, which Burch recalled as a “heart-stopping” figure. Added Time was a decent racemare, earning just over $100,000, but where she really shone was in the breeding shed. Burch's plan with Added Time was to sell most of her early foals, then later keep the fillies to retain an interest in the family. As it turns out, her 2005 filly by Smoke Glacken became Stoneway's first Grade 1 winner.
Unfortunately, Added Time threw only colts after her first three fillies, and Burch needed a way to get back into the family. As luck would have it, a filly out of Added Time's half-sister showed up in the catalog for the 2011 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July Yearling sale. Burch had to go to $165,000 to secure the Lawyer Ron filly she would later name Assets of War.
She broke her maiden first out and ran 12 more times before she was retired to the life of a broodmare. Her first foal, a filly by Into Mischief, earned a stakes-placing in her second career start and won the first start of her sophomore season this year just 20 minutes after Instagrand broke his maiden. Instagrand is only the second foal out of Assets of War.
“They really look nothing alike, though they both have beautiful, athletic bodies,” Burch said. “He looks like he's all sprinter to me… but when I saw him race, I thought he could definitely carry that speed.
“This family, they are so fast that a lot of people that get them ruin them before the horse actually gets to show its talent. That's why I'm so glad that (Jerry) Hollendorfer (trainer) has him, and that Drayden (Van Dyke, jockey) eased up on Instagrand this weekend instead of asking him for more.”
Just as exciting as a graded winner, in her mind, is when Burch has the opportunity to attend the races at Louisville's Churchill Downs and invite EIP students to join her in the winner's circle. Stone's family also enjoys the atmosphere at the track, and well into her 90's, his late mother could often be found playing with the foals on the fencelines at the farm.
“It was a big family affair,” Burch said. “They just loved it, so it inspired him to get more involved.”
Stone even played into Burch's heart when he bought a beautiful white yearling named Painted Patched at the September sale several years back. The colt made it to the races and drew a big fan following, several of whom were current or former EIP students.
“He always ran so hard in the last three furlongs,” Burch said. “That's why people love this sport, especially when the horses' big personalities come out on full display.”
Her 20-year relationship with Stone has also been a boon to the Equine Industry Program, Burch said, because it allows her to bring real-time data about Thoroughbred ownership and breeding into the classroom.
“It's been really beneficial for the students, and I think it's brought a lot of reality to people's expectations,” said Burch. “I can take them to the sales when we have horses selling and show them how to asses conformation and pedigree, and I can take them to the backside of Churchill Downs… It helps me show them how hard it really is to win a race and reminds me to be grateful for our successes.”
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