Runnymede Farm is one of the country’s oldest Thoroughbred
nurseries, and may well be the oldest to remain in the same family
throughout its history. Founded by Colonel Ezekiel Clay in 1867 on land
purchased for him by his father, Brutus Clay, near Paris, Ky., the farm
has been owned by four generations of Clays. It is the birthplace of
Kentucky Derby winners Ben Brush (1896), Agile (1905), and Count Turf
(1951) (though the last-named was bred while the farm was under lease
to Dr. Porter Miller). It is also the birthplace of four members of the
National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame: the aforementioned Ben
Brush, Hanover, Miss Woodford, and Roamer.
Current owner Catesby W. Clay is one of the grand old men of
Kentucky racing and breeding, having been born in 1923. He has kept up
the family tradition of breeding fine horses quite honorably, being
responsible (alone or in partnership) for 2001 Japanese champion older
male Agnes Digital and grade/group I winners Marylebone, Palace
Episode, and Divine Park. But he has never bred a Kentucky Derby winner
or a horse considered worthy of the Hall of Fame.
Whether Runnymede-bred Jaycito
will get so far is anyone’s guess, but after his win October 2 in the
Norfolk Stakes (gr. I), he will certainly get a shot at further glory.
The runner-up in his first two starts, the Zayat Stables color bearer
broke both his maiden and Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) winner J P’s Gusto’s four-race winning streak at the same time, outdueling his rival in the manner of a colt with both heart and stamina.