09/01/2008 12:00AM

Sheikh Mohammed buys Stonerside


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum’s Darley organization added to its considerable holdings Monday by purchasing nearly all the assets of Robert and Janice McNair’s Stonerside Stable in Paris, Ky.

No price was disclosed. The private transaction includes the 2,000-acre Stonerside farm property, a training center in Aiken, S.C., about 80 horses in training, and 170 broodmares, yearlings, and weanlings, according to a release Stonerside issued early Monday afternoon. The McNairs will keep Cowboy Cal, a 3-year-old Giant’s Causeway colt that won the Grade 3 Tropical Park Derby this year and was second in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes. They also will retain their homebred stallions Congaree, Bob and John, and Stonesider, and their other stallion interests.

The Stonerside broodmare band includes 1997 champion 3-year-old filly Ajina; Ascutney, dam of English Group 2 winner Raven’s Pass and American Grade 3 winner Gigawatt, who is carrying a full sibling to Raven’s Pass; Divine Dixie, dam of Grade 1 winner Bandini now in foal to Street Cry; Congaree’s dam Mari’s Sheba, currently not in foal; Minister’s Melody, dam of Bob and John, in foal to Distorted Humor; and Grade 1 winners or producers Caffe Latte, Rings a Chime, Sis City, Tout Charmant, Tuzla, and Zigember.

In a statement, Robert McNair said he opted to sell Stonerside, which he founded in 1994 with his wife, due to the need to focus more on his National Football League team, the Houston Texans.

“Janice and I have loved every minute of owning Stonerside,” he said. “But I have a duty to the Houston Texans now, and it has become increasingly difficult to focus on both ventures.”

The move follows a similar acquisition Darley made in Australia when it paid about $453 million for the prime breeding and racing operation Woodlands Stud, including 9,000 acres and about 1,000 horses. As in the Woodlands purchase, all staff are invited to stay on at Stonerside under the terms of the sale.

Darley representative John Ferguson said: “We have no plans to change anything at the present time, and it will be business as usual at Stonerside. Sheikh Mohammed is delighted to have been given this opportunity. Stonerside have bred some great horses in the past, and we are confident it will continue to do so.”

In 2007, Darley purchased Stonerside’s farm and training center in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., for almost $17.5 million after leasing it for two years. Darley’s American holdings also include Jonabell Farm and Gainsborough Stud, the latter previously owned by Sheikh Mohammed’s late brother Sheikh Maktoum al-Maktoum. Sheikh Mohammed also owns farms in England, Ireland, France, and Australia, in addition to his operation in Dubai.