The Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers Club, tracing its origins back to dinners at the old Coach House restaurant on South Broadway and the Thoroughbred Restaurant on Leestown Road, has served as a forum for central Kentucky farm managers to get together for a few cocktails and dinner since the late 1940’s. Mr. T.O. Campbell, who owned a local liquor distributorship, began the tradition of the bourbon drawing at the monthly meetings by donating a bottle of the popular brown elixir to the Club each month. These monthly meetings evolved into a means for farm managers to meet each other, develop friendships and networking opportunities and to learn about the Thoroughbred business both from a husbandry aspect and a business standpoint. The initial speakers were predominantly people from the Department of Agriculture at the University of Kentucky. Meetings also became a very valuable way for managers of different farms to discuss common problems. This opened up what used to be hushed situations where farms were very reluctant to discuss problems due to public relations reasons and the possibility of losing clients. The MRLS outbreak in 2002 is a very good example of this working together to find solutions and disperse information.
The Club’s initial social event was sponsorship of a horse and mule race taking place at Keeneland with horses and mules from area farms being trained on the farms and ridden by farm exercise boys in a highly competitive event. Through the years, the Club has expanded its socializing aspects and now includes such annual events as the golf scramble, the sporting clays classic and the trail ride. These events have given Club members the opportunities to play and socialize together in settings outside of typical dinner meetings. Towards the end of each year the Annual Dinner Dance is held to recognize and honor the person selected by the Club and the Industry as the “Farm Manager of the Year”. This honor is based on quality and success of management; service to the community; involvement in the KTFMC; and industry leadership and dedication. The first honoree was the venerable “Maggie” Glass, of Calumet fame, in 1964.
Over the years the Club has also built and expanded a program of annual charitable donations through these social activities, and is active in giving back to the community from proceeds derived from its outings, Colostrum Bank sales, and Directory sales. Although prohibited from making political contributions, the Club has developed into an arena where politics can be discussed, especially when they impact the Thoroughbred business. By allowing a floor for such discussions, it has served to make members more aware of both political problems facing the industry and who the elected officials are that can help our industry. It has allowed members to become “politically educated” and has helped get out voters during political contests.
Finally, through the past twenty-five years, the Club has opened up a nonvoting “Associate” member section to allow members to network and develop relationships with feed companies, tack stores, veterinarians, bloodstock agents, bankers and insurance agents. This has allowed farm managers and members of our local business community to develop social relationships that can be used to further business relationships for the future.
The Club, like the Thoroughbred business, has been continually evolving over the years and has expanded its membership and its mission accordingly in this historic, but ever-changing, environment of breeding, racing and sales.