12/11/2003 12:00AM

Winfield Farm turns to commercial market

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - C. Gibson Downing is back in the horse business. Downing, whose family has owned Winfield Farm near Lexington since 1972, announced this week that he has hired an equine management company and a new broodmare manager to transform the farm into a commercial breeding operation.

With the help of Ron Wallace's Equine Farm Management Inc.; a new broodmare/nursery manager, Tanya Carlile-Johnson; and an agricultural grounds manager, Albert Burton, Downing plans to open the facility to about 75 boarder mares and their foals, as well as some layups.

"We're going back to being a full-service public organization with the intention of having a sales division for the auctions and boarding outside mares," said Downing, 41. "Eventually, though not necessarily in the near term, we might also like to stand some stallions."

In recent years, Winfield's 240 acres has been operating as a small, private operation for Downing's mares, with Downing selling some of their weanlings and yearlings. But Downing sold most of his own bloodstock in November 2002, keeping only about six mares he owned in partnership.

"I took a little hiatus," said Downing, whose primary business has been in real estate and the stock market. He spent part of his hiatus considering how to revitalize the family farm, which kept as many as 150 mares each breeding season in the commercial heyday of the 1980's. Since 1972, Winfield had also stood 11 stallions on a roster that included, at various times, Silver Ghost, Yukon, Belted Earl, and Solford. Downing has pensioned the farm's remaining stallions - Time to Explode, Cameroon, and Pilgrim - and says he is considering adding some new blood to the stallion roster.

"It's a tough part of the business, but it can be done," he said. "Back in 1981, when we started with the stallions, we felt that horses standing in the $7,500-to-$15,000 range would have an opportunity in the stallion market. That's probably what we would try to seek today. We felt that conformation and pedigree were most important, often more important than race record. I think there's good opportunity in the market."

Downing hasn't set a time frame on opening the stallion barn again, but he hopes to have some clients' horses ready for the 2004 September yearling and November weanling markets.

"I'd like this to be a boutique, if you will, of quality horses for quality clients," Downing said, adding that Winfield already has 25 horses on the farm, with 20 more expected shortly. "About a dozen of those are mares, and the rest are layups, weanlings, and yearlings."

Downing welcomes all the activity.

"I've been in the business since I was a young teen," Downing said. "It was my love, and I adore this farm a great deal, and I want to see it flourish as much as possible."

Lakeview stallions on the move

Two former Kentucky stallions will be affected by the closure of Carl and Olivia Cannata's Lakeview Thoroughbred Farm in California. Last year, Lakeview leased Miesque's Son and Joyeux Danseur from Three Chimneys Farm. But this week Lakeview announced it would disperse its bloodstock holdings at the Jan. 26-27 Barretts January sale, and the farm is to be developed.

Miesque's Son (Mr. Prospector-Miesque), a full brother to the internationally popular Kingmambo, was sold about three weeks ago to the Societe d'Exploitation des Haras and will stand in France in 2004. Plans for Joyeux Danseur have yet to be determined.

* Count the Time, who previously stood at Castle Rock Stud in Lexington, Ky., will stand the 2004 season at La Mesa Stallions in Carencro, La. He will stand for $3,000 or $2,500 if paid by Sept. 1. Count the Time, a 14-year-old son of Regal Search and Countless Times (Timeless Moment), has sired such stakes winners as Fiesty Countess and 2003 black-type runners Little Andrea, Double Time, and Freedom Counts.

* Dual Grade 2 winner Monarch's Maze, a son of Kingmambo and stakes winner Puzzle Book (Text), has retired to Tooth-Acres Farm near Lavaca, Ark., where he will stand for $1,500 in 2004. Monarch's Maze, a half-brother to graded winners Mysteriously and Brock Street, retires with a career record of 12-4-1-4 and earnings of $286,755.