08/14/2017 3:20PM

Ben Walden to disperse Thoroughbred holdings

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Longtime horseman Ben Walden has announced that he will disperse his Thoroughbred holdings, more than 50 horses, at this fall’s Keeneland September and Keeneland November sales.

Walden, the brother of WinStar Farm executive Elliott Walden, and his wife, Elaine, are heavily involved in Christian ministry and associated pursuits. Ben Walden cited those time commitments involved as a factor in his decision, which he said he wrestled with for some time. 

“It is very difficult to be successful today in the Thoroughbred industry without a singular focus and relentless commitment,” Walden said in a release. “Our farm, Paul’s Mill, is on the market, so this step is a natural part of our progression.

“A recent month-long mission trip to the Philippines had a unique impact on the decision to walk away from the horse business."

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The dispersal will begin with six yearlings at next month's Keeneland September yearling sale. At the Keeneland November horses of all ages sale, the remainder of the stock will be dispersed - 27 broodmares or mares in training, along with 18 weanlings. 

During his career in Thoroughbred racing, Walden has bred more than 100 stakes winners, highlighted by Eclipse Award champion Artax. A major component of Walden’s business approach has been to buy and develop horse farms. He founded Vinery in 1985, and over the next 12 years built it into a successful commercial farm with over 30 stallions and a major sales presence. Among Vinery's top sires was Red Ransom, whom Walden purchased from Paul Mellon’s Rokeby Stable.

In 2000, the Waldens purchased 200 acres in Lexington, Ky., from Castleton Farm. The Waldens named the farm Gracefield, and developed it over a seven-year period before selling it to Lisa Lourie, who renamed it Spy Coast Farm. On behalf of Brad Kelley, Walden purchased Hurricane Hall from Dinwiddie Lampton in 2005, and Walden became partners in the business with Kelley, Pat Madden, and David Hanley. Several restorations were made to Hurricane Hall under Walden’s management, including the addition of a one-mile Polytrack uphill gallop.

After the partnership at Hurricane Hall was dissolved in 2008, Walden acquired Pauls Mill in Versailles, Ky. The 265-acre farm underwent extensive renovations to make it suitable for horses, and has dabbled in standing stallions over the last decade. The property is listed on the market for $8.5 million.