Updated: Feb 10, 2021
In November 2020, the Champions of the Track team loaded up our car for a quick, two-day trip to Lexington, Kentucky. We hadn’t been to Kentucky since January and were eager to once again be surrounded by all of the beauty that Lexington had to offer. We had three things on our itinerary: a day at Churchill Downs, a visit to Our Mims Retirement Haven, and a tour of Mill Ridge Farm.
Admittedly, none of us knew much about Mill Ridge before our tour. We were aware that Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Oscar Performance stood stud there, which felt extra relevant due to the fact that we were traveling to Kentucky shortly after the 2020 Breeders’ Cup, but that was about the extent of our knowledge. Nevertheless, we’re always excited to visit somewhere new and learn as much as we can.
We had originally scheduled our tour for early October when we hoped to capture the vibrant fall colors, but life happened and we had to reschedule for November 18th. I feared that the change in date would bring colder weather and less of that beautiful fall foliage I had been admiring on social media, but we were greeted by a sunny day when we woke up on the morning of the 18th.
One of our favorite parts of traveling to Kentucky is trying out a new place to stay to see which areas we liked the best (we’ve stayed in Frankfort, Taylorsville, Bardstown, and in a few different parts of Lexington). This time around, we had booked a fantastic Airbnb on Loudon Ave in Lexington called “The Attic”. This place had some cool horse racing inspired decorations that was great for getting us in the mood to get back out to the farms.
The drive from our Airbnb to Mill Ridge in the morning was so quick and easy as the farm is located on the outskirts of Lexington; one second you’re in the city traffic with buildings all around you, the next you’re driving next to miles of black fences and open fields of rolling hills. It amazes me still, even after visiting Lexington quite a few times!
When we arrived at Mill Ridge, we quickly noticed that there were no other cars around. No one else had decided to come on this date which was so shocking considering that Mill Ridge had been voted a TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Winner (meaning it was one of the most popular places to tour in the world)! Not only had we been lucky enough to have a sunny day with weather that was warming up every minute, but we were also going to be experiencing it all on our own!
Our tour guide Hannah met us outside of the breeding shed, where our tour would be starting. We all introduced ourselves and she took us inside to begin telling us about the farm’s history. The walls of the breeding shed are decorated with photos and information about the farm’s beginning years and big accomplishments.
Hannah told us all about the farm’s founder Alice Chandler and her family and was sure to enlighten us on Alice’s philosophy: “Take care of the horse, and it will take care of you”.
We then hopped into our individual cars (Covid precaution, there is usually a shuttle) and drove to the next stop on the tour. Driving around Mill Ridge is an amazing experience. All the roads were laid so that they couldn’t be seen in the farm’s landscape when you look out your car window, which gives the illusion that no concrete has carved it’s way through these beautiful, rolling hills. It’s an amazing thing to see and such a brilliant design!
The next stop on the tour was a paddock full of weanlings who were about 10 months old. Hannah had given us each a bag of sliced carrots to feed the babies and we were super excited to get the chance to interact with them all! They made Hannah work for it, but eventually they all woke up from their naps they were enjoying in the bright, November sun. Once they realized they were about to get some carrots, they began to walk (a few even galloped) towards the fence.
Feeding babies is quite the adventure! They all wrestle for their turn to have some treats. The babies who were extra curious about us had some fun nibbling on my purse and our jackets and one even tried to nibble on our cameras! It was so much fun getting to spend some time with these weanlings and we learned quite a bit about the way they are raised from our wonderful guide Hannah.
After spending quite some time laughing and enjoying the moment with the babies, we hopped back into our cars and headed to a spot that Hannah says is probably her favorite on the entire farm.
It was easy to see why this particular spot was Hannah’s go-to! We were up on a hill overlooking a few large paddocks where mares and some yearlings were grazing. Far out into the distance was a treeline decorated with red and orange leaves; amongst them is a large, beautiful brick house. It was so picturesque.
Since the mares weren’t up by the fence, we headed back to the breeding shed so Hannah could tell us a little bit more about that process. She showed us the stalls and bathing area that are used when a mare comes in to breed. To a view of walls of neck straps from Grade 1 winners they’ve raised and photos of their Breeders’ Cup champions, she told us about some of the farm’s many breeding successes. She even told us some fun stories about how some of the farm’s horses got their names!
Finally, she gave us some peppermints and took us to Oscar Performance’s paddock so we could meet him. Meeting Oscar Performance is quite a bit different than meeting the babies. You can’t pet him because though he’s not a mean horse, it’s better safe than sorry when it comes to stallions. But he was more than happy to accept some peppermints and all the extra carrots we had left!
It’s so cool to meet a racehorse who was once so successful on the racetrack, especially one who was successful in the years in which I followed racing! I remember watching Oscar Performance’s Breeders’ Cup win and was absolutely blown away by him. Plus the fact that he’s a record setter made him even cooler. All three of us adored Oscar & were so grateful for the chance to meet him.
After we spent quite some time feeding Oscar & hearing stories about him, we “officially” concluded the Horse Country tour of Mill Ridge. We hung around talking to Hannah about the sport & our experiences with it and then headed out to get some lunch.
We left feeling so happy, motivated, and inspired.
We had been given the opportunity to tour Mill Ridge thanks to our partnership with Horse Country. They booked us the tour and in return we would be sending them photos for their social media and would encourage our followers to book their own tour! While doing research for our video of Mill Ridge, we discovered even more information about just how historic and important this farm is, which only made our love and appreciation for Mill Ridge grow.
The people who work at Mill Ridge have a deep rooted love for the horse and the sport of horse racing. This love is so plain to see in everything they do, whether that's giving visitors a tour of their farm or selling Grade 1 caliber horses at some of the premier horse sales in the country. It is truly a special, must-visit place. If you've been itching for some quality horse time, book yourself a tour of Mill Ridge Farm through Horse Country. It will be an experience that gives you memories to last a lifetime!
[Video: Learn more about the history of Mill Ridge Farm while seeing footage from our tour]
A huge thank you to our partner Horse Country for the tour of Mill Ridge Farm!
Sign up for Airbnb using our link when you book your Horse Country tour & receive $65 off your first stay!
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