December 4, 2021

Sports Business

Ocala's horse business growth

Amy Martinez | 11/26/2019

Horses in Florida

Florida is home to about 387,100 horses, third-most after Texas (767,100) and California (534,500), according to the American Horse Council, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group. About 717,000 acres in Florida are used for horse-related purposes, according to the council, which estimates that Florida’s horse industry directly contributes $2.4 billion to the state’s economy and employs more than 47,000 people. Horse shows and racing are the largest sectors, accounting for nearly 33,000 jobs statewide.

Well-Heeled Owners

Charlotte Weber, granddaughter of Campbell Soup founder John Dorrance, owns Live Oak Stud, a 4,500-acre horse farm and cattle operation. Her son, Chester, is a multiple national title holder in carriage driving.

Frank Stronach, founder of Magna International, an auto parts company, owns a 3,800-acre horse farm called Adena Springs South. Stronach, who also founded the Stronach Group, which owns and operates thoroughbred racetracks, including Gulfstream Park, has horse farms in Kentucky and Ontario as well.

Liberty Media Chairman John Malone, the largest individual landowner in the U.S., added the 800-acre Bridlewood Farm to his holdings in 2013, paying $14 million. Smarty Jones, a Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner, was trained at Bridlewood in the early 2000s.

Mandy Pope, who co-owns Henderson, N.C.-based Variety Wholesalers, the parent company of Roses and Save-A-Lot stores, breeds and races horses under the name Whisper Hill Farm. She recently spent $8.2 million at auction in Keeneland, Ky., to acquire a yearling filly sired by 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah — outbidding Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai.

Paul Bulmahn, who founded ATP Oil & Gas in Houston, opened GoldMark Farm, a 2,600-acre thoroughbred training facility, in the mid-2000s. GoldMark’s trainees include 2011 Preakness Stakes winner Shackleford.

Donald Dizney, founder of Orlando-based United Medical, owns Double Diamond Farm, a 550-acre horse breeding, boarding and training facility.

Jessica Steinbrenner, daughter of George Steinbrenner, runs Kinsman Farm, an 880-acre horse farm purchased by her father in 1969.


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