06/29/2007 12:00AM

GoldMark has look of operation on rise


Paul Bulmahn was recently cited in the Thoroughbred Times as one of the industry's 10 to watch. A tour of his emerging 2,500-acre facility in Ocala, Fla., lends currency to that citation.

Bulmahn is a 64-year-old oil magnate from Texas. But it is not who he is that warrants the spotlight, it is what he is doing and what he hopes to accomplish that stirs the industry's attention.

Bulmahn has named his racing enterprise GoldMark LLC. The label suits his Ocala operation, for as a gold mark has long been identified with the best of the best, the GoldMark operation in Ocala is a growing testament to Bulmahn and his lofty standards.

Only 500 acres of the property has been developed - the rest is on the drawing boards. The developed property includes two 36-stall barns, a six-furlong synthetic-surface training track with chutes, breaking pens, enclosed mechanical hot walkers, a trackside clubhouse, and a 23,000-square-foot house that from a distance reminds one of a scene from the Jack Nicholson movie "The Shining."

It is not the obvious investment that is going into the development of GoldMark that catches your attention, rather it is what's behind the facade.

The barns have 36 12-by-12 stalls. Each stall has a floor of porous compound rubber matting which makes for easy draining and clean-up. On top of this matting is a thin layer of woodchips. The walls have similar rubberized kickboards. There is an automatic water bucket that refills upon need, a special feed bucket that lends itself to quick and efficient cleaning. Each stall has a fly spray mechanism that all but eliminates these pests, and there is a fan that helps maintain lower temperatures.

Visitors to GoldMark cannot help but notice the light beige stuff that seemingly is everywhere. Todd Quast, the GoldMark general manager, who is responsible for the development of the facility, explains: "It's Safetrack Synthetic Surface, and it is made in England. We looked at all the established brands of synthetic surfaces here and abroad and determined that SSS suits us best."

Safetrack is the footing on GoldMark's 50-foot-wide training track, and it lays on all the walkways around and between the barns. Its composition consists of fiber, wax, rubber filaments, and shredded carpet remnants. "That's why you see all those colors in the mix," Quasty said. "They are bits and pieces of carpet."

Safetrack, according to Quast, can handle temperatures up to 180 degrees.

"We have found that the mix does not have any problems due to Florida's strong sunshine or relatively high temperatures." said Quast. "If a horse goes three furlongs at Belmont in 36, that same horse will go in 36 and change over this track. And, that horse is not likely to suffer bucked shins or other traumas."

GoldMark operates as a commercial facility in that it accepts young horses for breaking, training and rehab. The training barns were full for this, its first year of operation. But as might be expected in an environment such as this, the GoldMark services do not come cheap. The charge is $85 per day for breaking and training. There are no broodmare paddocks or breeding facilities at this time.

Quast is a Texan who developed his horsemanship while pursuing a college degree and subsequently went to work for D. Wayne Lukas. He worked with Lukas on both coasts and was later involved in the development of Padua Stables in Ocala. He met Bulmahn when the oilman was seeking an Ocala property. Quast struck up a relationship; the relationship prospered, and he subsequently agreed to take the helm of GoldMark.

GoldMark is a bit of an anachronism in that the goal is not to be exclusively commercial. Rather, the goal is to develop and race a prominent stable - like Greentree or the venerable Calumet Farm used to be. Towards this end, the program is going the yearling route: pedigreed fillies for racing and eventual breeding, and colts for racing. Should a colt prove his mettle on the track, perhaps he would be retired to stud.

"Right now we are not looking to get into the stud business," said Quast. "But, if we came up with the right horse, we might, of course, reconsider."

GoldMark went to the 2006 yearling sales and bought 23 of them ranging from $300,000 down to $75,000. GoldMark's initial 2-year-olds are at the races in Kentucky and New York.

When asked what is Paul Bulmahn's philosophy when it comes to the horse business, Quast said: "Mr. Bulmahn wants to enjoy the money he has made. No one, however, likes to lose money. I'm confident we're on the right track."