Lea, Donn Handicap, Gulfstream Park, 9th February 2014
Trained by Bill Mott, Sire: First Samurai. Dam: Greenery
It’s hard to believe there is a more iconic farm than Claiborne in Paris, Ky., which celebrated its 100th year of operation in 2011 and was honored that year with an Eclipse Award of Merit for outstanding achievement in Thoroughbred racing. “It’s more of a tribute to my grandfather and father,” Seth Hancock, the 64-year-old owner, partner and manager of Claiborne, said. “My grandfather (Arthur B. Hancock) started all this over here in Kentucky, and my dad (Arthur B. “Bull Hancock Jr.”) built it up into what it was, and I’m just trying to keep it going.”
Hancock, who graduated from the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture in 1971, and his wife Dell have done more than keep it going. They have continued a standard of excellence at the historic farm whose most recent stars include 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Blame, who began his stallion career at Claiborne in 2011, 2012 graded stakes winners Cease and Rumor and 2013 triple graded-stakes winner Departing. All three were campaigned in partnership with Adele Dilschneider.
Many of the sport’s greatest champions preceded them, none more accomplished than Triple Crown Champion and two-time Horse of the Year Secretariat, whom Seth Hancock syndicated for a then record $6 million in 1972, the same year he took over Claiborne following his father’s death. Blenheim II, Bold Ruler, Conquistador Cielo, Damascus, Danzig, Easy Goer, Triple Crown Champion Gallant Fox, Mr. Prospector, Nasrullah, Nijinsky II, Princequillo, Round Table, Sir Gallahad III, Sir Ivor, Tom Rolfe and Unbridled are among the long list of Thoroughbred royalty tied to Claiborne.
Hancock has long been an industry leader. He is a director of Keeneland, a member of The Jockey Club, vice chairman of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and a member of the American Graded Stakes Committee. He was on the board of directors at Churchill Downs from 1973 to 2008.
Hancock’s brother, Arthur, owns and operates Stone Farm adjacent to Claiborne.
Dilschneider is a native of Alton, Ill., across the river from St. Louis, Mo. Her great grandfather, William E. Levis, was the founder of Corning-Illinois Glass, a prominent maker of beer bottles in the middle of the 20th century. Her grandfather, John Olin, bred and owned Cannonade, who won the 100th Kentucky Derby in 1974 for Hall of Fame trainer Woody Stephens and Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero Jr. She owns approximately two dozen racehorses and 30 broodmares in partnership with Claiborne, and frequently travels from Missouri to watch her horses race. “I wouldn’t be in this business if I can’t watch my horses race,” she said.