08/28/2012 12:41PM

Vinery properties put up for sale


Vinery owner Tom Simon has put the operation’s four United States properties on the market “after meetings with his family and taking into account their plans and interests,” Vinery president Tom Ludt announced Tuesday.

“They’ve looked at the size of the operation and the work that’s involved, and they’ve stepped back,” Ludt said of Simon’s family. “So the right thing to do is to sell it. This will be a long-term process unless someone comes along immediately. We’re not closing down, we’re not making any changes. He just thought if he came out and told everyone that they were going to back out, hopefully we could find someone like him 14 years ago who would buy the whole thing and continue to operate. We’re diverse and big, and so we’re not expecting anything to happen overnight.”

Simon has owned Vinery since 1999, when he bought it from George and Kay Hofmeister. Vinery’s U.S. properties include farms in Kentucky, Florida, and New York. Vinery made a major foray into New York in 2011 when it purchased Susan and Howard Kaskel’s Sugar Maple Farm in Poughquag as a stallion hub and invested in Empire Stud near Hudson as a boarding facility.

The operation also has a major farm in Australia, where its flagship stallion More Than Ready spends the Southern Hemisphere breeding season, but that is owned in partnership and is not on the market.

“He is going to remain in that partnership,” Ludt said.

Vinery employs 110 people in the United States, Ludt said. Vinery owns about 100 horses, but there are about 500-600 horses in total at the farms, including client-owned horses.

Ben Walden, Jr., founded Vinery in Kentucky in 1986 and from there aggressively pursued the then-new practice of Southern Hemisphere stallion shuttling. Walden and his wife, Elaine, sold the original Kentucky property to the Hofmeisters in 1998. Under Simon, the farm relocated to its current Spurr Road location on the site of North Ridge Farm’s former broodmare division, opened Florida and Australia divisions, and expanded into New York. Vinery also began sponsoring Turfway’s Spiral Stakes in 2011.

Ludt will handle purchase inquiries and said that Simon is keeping his options open on whether to sell the farm a single unified operation or as separate entities. “But he doesn’t want to break it up, and ideally they would love to have someone just buy Vinery,” Ludt said.