In any given year, there are thousands of Thoroughbreds born
in Central Kentucky. Out of them, some will win
allowance and claiming races, some others will win stakes races and a few
others will win graded stakes races. However, only one will win the Kentucky
Just a few years ago, you might have driven past any Central
Kentucky Thoroughbred farm and you would have seen fields filled with mares and
foals. They all look so cute, running around and playing with the other foals
and their moms. What you don't see, what you don't know, however, is what lies
in their future, as one of them, if everything lines up right, just might turn
out to be a Kentucky Derby winner.
That is exactly what happened to the Seitz family, owners of
Brookdale Farm, just outside of Versailles.
To get to Brookdale Farm, you go up Main
Street past the Versailles Municipal Building/Court
House, then at the first light, you take a left on Elm
Street. From there you drive a little way down the
road and it turns into McCracken Pike.
It’s at that point where you are transported back to a time
when the world was not in such a rush, where people didn’t try and pass you
because you were driving too slow, when life moved at a slower pace and things
seemingly were more peaceful, more relaxed.
It is here, tucked away in this little corner of Kentucky
that you will find Brookdale Farm, a quiet, hidden gem of a Thoroughbred
breeding farm where a family staked their claim to a piece of land and turned
it into a very successful business. It is here where you can see mares and
foals run free over lush green pastures, and it was here where 2012 Kentucky
Derby winner I'll Have Another was born in 2009 to Arch's Gal Edith, one of the
mares boarded at the farm.
Brookdale began in 1983 when Fred Seitz and his wife, Peppe,
started a farm, raised their children and created a masterpiece. It is where Fred's
sons, Freddy and Joe, continue the traditions of the farm, caring and raising the
horses to prepare them for sale.
"(I) came here in ’74 right out of the service and was
managing a smallish-farm in Lexington
out on Tates Creek Road,
which is no longer there," Fred Seitz explained. "I managed that farm
for two years, and one day made a breeding trip. I was driving a pick-up with a
trailer, and taking a mare to a breeding shed, and I came into Versailles
for the first time. I drove up to the courthouse light, and I looked around and
I turned right. I don’t remember which stud farm I was going to, but I had that
very clear feeling that this was the
place I wanted to wind up and live. It was a very strong feeling.
"I managed that farm (in Lexington),
as I said, for a couple years, and then I worked at Fasig Tipton after that for
a couple years. … But during the time in between, when I left the farm, we
bought the house, the current house, (and have) been there ever since; since
’76. (We) bought the house and eight acres here on McCracken. Then leased a
farm out on Route 60, then leased another farm on Lawrenceburg
Road. Then, eventually, (we) started to buy in
’83, the beginnings of this property.
"Today, Brookdale Farm consists of 375 acres that the Seitzes
own, and another 125 acres that they lease.
At first, we were a full-service broodmare operation only,
with the first stallion added in ’86. Later came one of the great one ones,
two-time leading sire, Deputy Minister, as well as Crafty Prospector, Forest
Wildcat and Silver Deputy. However, about five or six years ago, because of the
costs involved in buying stallions, they changed to the business they are
today, a breeding and sales preparation facility only.
That is where the story of one of the mares on the farm,
Arch's Gal Edith, and the birth of I'll Have Another comes to the forefront.
About eight to 10 years ago, Harvey Clarke and Fred became
partners in race horses and subsequent broodmares. After one of Clarke's race
mares, Arch's Gal Edith, got injured after her first race, she came to the farm
as a broodmare prospect.
"She got injured after her first race on the track, and
it was just a natural," said Freddy Seitz, Brookdale's general manager and
yearling manager. "Back then we were one of his boarding farms, so he sent
the mare to our farm to get bred and it was pretty much just that simple. It
was time for her to become a broodmare, and he just called us and said, she
needs to come to your farm, can you get
her? She’s here and she’s been here ever since."
Arch's Gal Edith, who is by Arch out of Force Five Gal, by
Pleasant Tap, is a beautiful, sweet, brown/dark brown mare, who enjoys her days
grazing out in her paddock.
"The assistant manager, Victor Espinoza, says she’s the
easiest mare in the field," said Joe Seitz, Brookdale's director of sales.
"All you have to have is a bucket, and she’ll follow you all over the
Eventually, in a conversation with Clarke, Freddy Seitz made
the suggestion to breed Arch's Gal Edith to Three Chimneys Farm's Flower Alley,
which produced I'll Have Another.
"Sometimes he’ll (Harvey Clarke) have choices already,
and sometimes he’s looking for suggestions," Freddy said. "It just
happened that year he was open to suggestions about that mare, and we were
discussing a price range, and Flower Alley fit the price range and fit the
pedigree, so that’s how it worked that year."
As to what he saw in Flower Alley that got him to make the
suggestion, Freddy said that, "I liked the price of the stallion for this
mare. And, I liked the pedigree. I always like Flower Alley as a stallion. I
liked him as a stallion prospect actually while he was still running. I thought
he would make a good stallion prospect because he was well bred, he could carry
speed over a long distance and was very well conformed. And, it just seemed
like that was the type of horse that would work for any mare, including Arch’s
Gal Edith. You want a stallion that had good breeding, and some good stamina
with some speed and he looks the part."
The resulting foal, the third one for Arch's Gal Edith, would
eventually be named I'll Have Another. But, at the start, according to Freddy,
there was nothing that made anyone think the foal would be a great race horse.
"He was kind of leggy, (and) narrow-chested,"
Freddy said. "He was always a good mover, which there are a lot of horses
that we call a good mover. But, he was a really good mover and there was
nothing wrong with him besides he just didn’t look like the prototypical,
big-ticket, sales yearling. He was just kind of an immature, leggy, thin type
of a horse, which happens every year. There’s horses that look like that every
year, and there’s horses that look like they’re worth tons of money as
After they are born, a foal like I'll Have Another spends
his days out in the fields with his mother, running, nursing and learning to be
a horse. Eventually, after around four months, he is weaned from his mother and
that' s when the next phase of their lives begin, as they are prepared for the
"We participate in six sales a year, starting in
January for a mixed sale, and then possibly four yearling sales through the
summer and fall, and then a broodmare sale at Keeneland in November," Joe
Preparing a foal, such as I'll Have Another, for the sales
takes time, care and planning of each step in the process, from feeding, to the
amount of time they spend outside, to making sure they are used to being
handled by people. The ultimate goal, of course, is making them look their best
for the auction ring.
"The babies … from when they’re weanlings until the
prep season, they grow up outside, out in the field, eating pasture, eating
some grain and some hay during the winter," Freddy said. "But, we
like them to be out in the pasture as much as we can, around 22 to 23 hours a
day. Until we have to sales prep them.
"When we do that, we have to rely more on hay and grain,
and we have to keep the horses inside for half of their time," he
continued. "They have to be inside during the day. The sun bleaches their
coats, and it also probably takes a lot out of them; beating down on them. To
ensure proper exercise and fitness, we put them on a walker or exerciser, and
they’ll jog around in circles for a set amount of time. Basically, what we’re
trying to do is get their coats shiny, get their muscle toned up, and get fit,
so that when they go out to the sales, they look and feel like little race
horses. Like they’re ready to begin a new career of training.
"People want to see a horse, they want to see it at its
best. So, you have to spend two or three months (in) what we call prepping,
getting them to look that way. They look pretty good out in the fields during
the other months, but you can make them look really good by putting a little
shine on them and getting them fit. So, that’s how the prep works. It’s about
two-and-a-half to three months of extra work. … They (also) get groomed every
day. They’ll even get baths. They already get their feet picked and stuff like
that every day, but we work with them more during the prep season."
Then, come sales time, they are sent to Keeneland, for
example, which is where Joe begins his work.
"We'll sell about 60 to 75 yearling a year," Joe
said. "And, that year, (the year with I'll Have Another), we sold 50
As for the sale itself, Joe and his team of 10 people work
the barn during the sale, showing their horses to prospective buyers and
getting them ready to head to the pavilion for the auction.
"When they’re out there, it’s harvest time," Joe
said. "It’s kind of the way I like to describe it, because you raise these
crops of yearlings every year, and normally they go to Keeneland September
(sale) and that’s when everything’s has to be right. If they’ve got bumps or
bruises or problems or X-ray issues, you try to get everything just right for
when they go to their runway so-to-speak and sell themselves."
Then, come auction time, the horses are taken one-by-one, walked
around the auction ring, where buyers can get one last look at them before they
are taken to the sales pavilion.
"I stand right in the back, right before they go in (to
the sales pavilion)," Joe said. "They open the big door and let the
horse in, and I’m right there in case they have any last minute
That year, I'll Have Another was sold for $11,000. A year
later, I'll Have Another was sold again, this time at a sale in Ocala
for $35,000 to J. Paul Reddam.
Then, on Saturday, May 5, he charged down the long Churchill
Downs stretch, overtook Bodemeister, another Brookdale Farm graduate, and
crossed the finish line into the history books as the 138th winner of the Kentucky
So, what does it mean for Brookdale Farm to have had a
Kentucky Derby winning horse bred on their farm?
"It validates the farm," Joe said. "We’ve
sold a lot of good horses over the years that have gone all over the world and
won races at the highest level. We’ve stood champion sires, champion stallions.
My father’s a trainer. He’s trained good horses, won good races. But, the one
question that you always get asked, where ever you are in the country, is,
‘Have you ever had a Derby winner.’
And, now we can say we have."
(This article was first published in the May 17, 2012 edition of The Woodford Sun, a weekly newspaper in Versailles, Ky., where Rick Capone is the Sports Editor.)