New KY Tourism Group Joins Farms, Equine Businesses

by | 01.14.2015 | 1:17pm

Anne Sabatino Hardy has been selected as the first Executive Director of Horse Country, Inc., a new not-for-profit organization comprising farms, equine medical clinics and equine attractions that will offer tourism experiences to the public.

The organization will provide a central booking outlet that will also share the overarching story of Kentucky's Horse Country and participating locations to connect visitors with the story of the horses, the land and the people, and to develop fans of farms and clinics.

“As owners, breeders, farm managers, and veterinary practitioners we hope this can be our piece of the fan development puzzle; to share the story of the horse – from birth, to racing, and back to breeding,” said Price H. Bell, Jr. of Mill Ridge Farm and Nicoma Bloodstock. “By offering authentic, unique, coordinated experiences we will share with the public the history and stories of these amazing athletes who inspire us every day.”

“Kentucky has a wealth of tradition and history in the equine industry, and visitors flock to our racing and sport facilities, but it's sometimes challenging to access the farms and clinics,” said Hardy. “There is tremendous demand for experiences at those locations, and for encounters with the horse. We believe that opening the gates and providing memorable experiences will make true fans of our farms and clinics. It's exciting to see those who steward this beautiful land and care for these incredible athletes coming together to support that effort.”

“Stakeholder farms and members of the board have been working for nearly two years to make this idea a reality, and have grown in supporters every step of the way. Early on we worked with the Disney Institute to understand important principles of storytelling and customer experience,” said Bell. “And together we have developed a sustainable model. Now, with staff, we're beginning the next phase. There is a lot of work yet to be done, but we appreciate the support already demonstrated by the industry and community.”

In the coming months, the organization will undertake a branding initiative and begin evaluating technology solutions for the booking and ticketing system. More information will be released as the initiative develops.

*****

Anne Sabatino Hardy is a longtime Lexington resident and graduate of Asbury University. She also has lived abroad and traveled through the Middle East with husband, Jacob Hardy, a business owner and Lexington native. Hardy most recently worked with Associations International, a full service association management company in Lexington, Kentucky. She began her career at Preston-Osborne, where she served clients in a variety of sectors and on two Silver Anvil Award-winning campaigns. She also worked as the Editor-in-Chief of the Chevy Chaser and Southsider Magazines and has contributed to Business Lexington, The Lane Report, Market Review publications and BG Magazine. She is a member of the Governor's Mansion Centennial Celebration Committee and the 2014-2015 class of Leadership Lexington. She is a lifelong fan of her hometown Indianapolis Colts and frequent visitor to the races.Horse Country, Inc. Board of Directors: Clifford Barry – Pin Oak Stud, P. Headley Bell – Mill Ridge Farm, Price H. Bell, Jr. – Mill Ridge Farm, Brutus J. Clay – Runnymede Farm, Luke H. Fallon, DVM – Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, Allison Hancock – Claiborne Farm, John Phillips – Darby Dan Farm, Mary Quinn Ramer – VisitLEX, Rusty Thompson – Darley America, Shannon Arvin – Stoll Keenon Ogden, Secretary.
  • Terri Z

    What a great idea. I think that they should look into accommodating the needs of international travelers as well. Including Old Friends and the Kentucky Horse Park in the tours would also be a good idea.

    • LL

      I suggested some women’s activities at Arlington Park last year. We do a few things but I think a lot more could be done. Women love racing. It’s probably pretty difficult to have an all female trainer day but part of a day’s program could be devoted to introducing the public to women trainers up close. We were lucky to have several female jocks last year and Taylor Rice has been doing well in NY. There could also be a card of just filly and mare races.

      • Terri Z

        We have a prominent woman trainer at Gulfstream Park: Kathy Ritvo.
        That’s a great idea, to introduce the women to women who are involved in the sport, whether they are a jockey, exercise rider, groom, trainer, assistant trainer, or hot walker.

        • LL

          I like your idea of also including the backstretch workers. How many of our trainers employ women as these workers. Some of them have very nice ways with the horses. We have a pretty good female handicapper in the Chicago area also. I am very aware of Kathy. I know Christine Janks is also running horses in FL. She did very well here for years. Too bad you and I aren’t on the same circuit. Maybe we could make something happen!!!

          • Terri Z

            Well I’m going to be at the ThoroFan breakfast at Friday when Kathy Ritvo speaks. I will try to talk to her about our ideas. If you are on Face Book, my name is Terri Zeitz. I know someone who lives in the Chicago area and goes to Arlington Park; she belongs to ThoroFan as well.

  • Garrett Redmond

    I was one of the first to suggest trying to emulate the Bourbon Trail success. So, why am I disappointed in ‘Horse Country’ ? A few weeks ago they sent me a letter announcing their organization and it’s objectives. I predict it will develop into another NTRA and wither away.
    Immediate shortcoming : it is firmly in the hands of the “Establishment”. It is represented by people from the big farms. The first EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR does not show any experience in or knowledge of horses or Bourbon ! The Secretary is from the law firm that represents the
    Jockey Club of NY.
    The dire needs of our business will not be met by their stated primary objectives. If it were not tragic, it could be comedy.
    Need I say more ?

  • secondlife

    I’m not quite sure how this group is going to do anything more different than what you could get from the typical bus tours already out there. I guess adding equine clinics would be interesting, since that’s not something you usually get to tour. Or being around young horses, since most tours usually just do stallion barns.

  • Dan

    Several tour companies get very good tripadvisor reviews. Is this new organization working in a collaborative effort with these established companies who make their living (profit) from tourists or will this non-profit business entity mean lost jobs to KY tour guides?

    • secondlife

      There is so much demand for tours that I can’t really imagine the established companies going out of business. Maybe what they are trying to do is provide a central clearing house type location where you could get info about where to do tours, like if you want to see this, you can go to this place. As of now, people kind of just have to google things and make calls to ten different places to get info. Some farms offer public tours, but you usually have to call each one & ask.

  • Piquetour

    These tours need to be available in every state with a race track.

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