Summer Bird in Paradise at Paul's Mill

Today I ventured out to Paul’s Mill in Versailles, Ky. to welcome 2009 3-year-old champion Summer Bird to his new home. Just when I thought I had seen all the most beautiful Thoroughbred farms in the area, Paul’s Mill took Central Kentucky's splendor of scenery to a whole new level.

I was informed that Drs. K. K. and Devi Jayaraman, who bred and campaigned Summer Bird and will retain a major interest in him as a stallion, had not seen the farm in person until the horse arrived there June 10. They remarked how lovely the grounds were as they walked from the office to the stallion barn to await Summer Bird’s arrival, enjoying the view every step of the way.

“This is what we call ‘a swath of paradise,’ " the farm’s chief financial officer Keith Drach told me later over lunch. I wholeheartedly agreed.

Summer Bird seemed to immediately take to his surroundings as he stepped off the van that had transported him to the farm from Delaware Park. He stood quietly for a few moments with a stoic expression and his ears pricked as he surveyed the scene and posed for spectators.


Summer Bird arrives at Paul's Mill                                                           Summer Bird posing with the Jayaramans

Summer Bird enjoying his new  home

The farm’s website references Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Less Traveled,” and I certainly felt as though we had stumbled on a forgotten pathway when our car winded down the narrow lane to the farm, which was lined with crumbling stone walls and towering trees.

As we drove through the antique-style Paul’s Mill gate, among the first sights were four swans gliding through a pond that was bisected by a quaint, wooden bridge. A creek lazily wove its way through the property, with a waterfall gently flowing over a rock wall in close proximity to the stallion barn.

Every aspect of the 260-plus acres of Paul’s Mill was meticulously developed by owner Ben Walden Jr. when he bought the farm in 2008. It’s hard to believe that just two years ago, a few head of cattle roamed the fields where Thoroughbred mares and their babes now graze.

From the immaculately-kept stallion barn with actual tree trunks used as some of the support beams, to the beautiful, refurbished 200-year-old office with views that overlook the entire farm, it was clear that a lot of careful planning and detail went into the design of this place.

Deep in the woods of the property, Walden even built a deer stand that actually looks more like a house on stilts! Apparently it’s used much more often for soaking in the views of the property than actual hunting.

During a personal tour, we were allowed to see and pet the mares with foals by their sides in their barn, and I was in heaven. To top it all off, it was a languid, summer afternoon with low humidity and bright sunshine, which gave Paul’s Mill such a peaceful feel, I wouldn’t have minded staying all afternoon.

I personally think that Summer Bird has it made at Paul’s Mill. Hopefully he’ll get to stay there for the duration of his career. What is your favorite Thoroughbred farm and what did you like about it? Hopefully, someday you’ll have the pleasure of visiting Paul’s Mill and seeing Summer Bird!

To read more about the history of Paul’s Mill, and view a gallery of photographs, click here:


Leave a Comment:


It's finally well over 100 degrees here in Phoenix. Your lovely description and photos make me want to pack my bags and see if I can rent out the stall next to SB! (May he make lots of classic distance babies who last forever.)

10 Jun 2010 3:50 PM

Summer bird and all who reside their both human and horse sound like they are very lucky to be there.  The only ones not so lucky may be the deer.

10 Jun 2010 4:10 PM
Ben Walden Jr.

Ty for your kind remarks. It was a pleasure to host you and your colleagues. Ben Walden, Jr.

10 Jun 2010 4:35 PM

i woder if all of the stallions screamed at summer bird to remind him that he's at the lowest ranked stallion there at the moment. since most stallions scream at any horse who walks by their stallion if they notice them of course.

10 Jun 2010 4:35 PM

You describe Paul's Mill as a lovely place.  I love Summer Bird and had hoped to see him return to the track to race again, but it sounds as though he will be very happy in his new surroundings.  I can't wait to visit him in his new home!

10 Jun 2010 5:32 PM

I was able to see it when we took our mare to be bred to Artie. Your right an amazing nice small place. The office was amazing. It feels like your going no where and then all of a sudden you go over a little bridge to the stallion barn. The way that they handle the stallions was nice, the horses were all well behaved, even the huge Bellamy Road was nice. Hopefully we will be going back there next year.  

10 Jun 2010 6:30 PM
Ida Lee

The gorgeous Summer Bird is one of my favorites and I was upset when I heard he had been retired and I won't see him race again. But, Wow what a beautiful place! I cannot wait to go to KY next year on my vacation and hope to stop by and see this most beautiful and talented boy. His babies I know will be beautiful and run like the wind. Have a happy life pretty boy!!!

10 Jun 2010 7:07 PM

He is spectacular! What a stunner.

11 Jun 2010 12:10 AM

   one of the highlights of my life was to visit claiborne farm in the late 80's.

    at the time, i was involved with breeding and racing on a small scale and i had visited quite a few farms, but none compared with claiborne.

    it was not a fancy place compared to some of the newer farms, but it was exceptional in regard to the hospitality and gracious attitude of the employees.

    how can anyone forget danzig,tom rolfe, devil's bag, cox's ridge, spectacular bid, nijinsky and of course, secretariat. with exception of nijinsky, who was recovering from laminitis and was in a paddock, these men brought all of those great horses out of their stalls for us to see.

    for those of us who love this sport, how much better could it be than to stand next to secretariat for 15 or 20 minutes, give him peppermints and generally, be in awe of such a great horse.

    more than twenty years later, i still have pictures of me standing next to him on my refrigerator door.

    again, i would like to thank the people of claiborne for providing me with such a warm and wonderful memory of that day.

11 Jun 2010 2:12 AM

I loved Summer Bird, he was so beautiful and such a great race horse. Yall take care of him at his new home,  I know his new job will be what he will love to do ............being a beautiful stud muffin,  You Go, Boy,  You are a darn great sire to breed to..............You are a WINNER, SUMMER BIRD,  YOU WILL SURELY BE MISSSED.............

11 Jun 2010 7:22 AM

Thank you for pics of Summer Bird since we won't get to see him race again, what a beautiful place...any chance his new full sister was there? Any pics of her?

11 Jun 2010 9:25 AM

Thank you for the update on the beautiful Summer Bird!  The photos are stunning also.  While I am disappointed he will not be returning to the races, it does seem like he has found a wonderful new home and I wish the very best for him.  Paul's Mill definitely looks like one of the farms I want to visit on my next trip to KY.  Thank you!

11 Jun 2010 9:37 AM

Anna--Really now!  I bet that sounds like a needle in your ear! If/when this happens, does the passerby scream back?

11 Jun 2010 10:01 AM

Will the stallions be ridden or otherwise given jobs to keep them mentally connected?  I've always thought that thoroughbred stallions needed the work even when "retired" to keep them fit and happy.  I look at people who own other breeds of horses that continue to work and use breeding stallions.  They get to view the world outside of the stud barn and learn that there are other things in the world other than the next mare.  Sure, there's always the risk of injury, but that can happen at any time--stall or paddock.  The human-horse connection is very important to the horse's mental well being.    

11 Jun 2010 12:17 PM
Greg J.

    Thanks for the update on Summer Bird and his new home, Place looks fantastic.  While I just read about his Mother passing away, Hong Kong Squall, It was refreshing to read your piece right after I read about her, Thank You...

11 Jun 2010 4:12 PM
Alexa King

Paul's Mill is in my neighborhood.  It's absolutely gorgeous! When I was looking for property in this area I happened by on one of my driving expeditions. Sometimes I deviate from my usual path to town and just drive by to see the farm and mill down the road. Would love to visit the horses especially Summer Bird one of these days!!

11 Jun 2010 5:11 PM
Will Viviano ("Will from Louisville")here in Fl horse circles

I intend to visit Tommy, my stallion mgr.friend from Fl and am happyyou all have SB, that's quite a start at building a strong list.  Your farm looks like a dreamscape for the mares , etc. heading your way. Congratulations Ben et al!!!

11 Jun 2010 6:07 PM

Very beautiful -- can't believe an owner wouldn't have checked a place before committing their horse's stud career.  

11 Jun 2010 6:20 PM

I just Love Summer Bird!the photos were beautiful and Summer Bird will be very happy here I'm sure.Thanks. i like reading your blogs,very informative and real

11 Jun 2010 7:35 PM
Karen in Indiana

It sounds like Summer Bird has landed in the perfect spot. (Pun intended) He has such a classic and strong pedigree, I can't help but believe we'll be hearing a lot more of him. And after watching the video, he is impressive physically - very balanced, not like the front-heavy horses you see so much of today that look more like quarter horses. Thank you for giving us some background on where he'll be.

11 Jun 2010 8:17 PM

I just watched the video of SB arriving at the farm coming off the van.  Sorry, but I didn't notice the scenery 'cuz I couldn't take my eyes off SB.  Boy, he is absolutely gorgeous with his shiny beautiful coat, and alert, expressive eyes. I was saddened that he was retired...I thought he would be top older male and give Quality Road competition, but his safety and welfare takes precedence. But, at least we have his half brother, MTB, who we can enjoy watching race. I hope at least he will stay around longer. Good life,SB.

11 Jun 2010 11:35 PM

to anna,

in the videos of Summer Bird arriving, you can hear vocalizing as he enters the stallion barn, hard to tell who it is, though

11 Jun 2010 11:42 PM
Love Those Birds

This has really made my day, so thanks for sharing Summer Bird's new home with us.

Wish SB and all his new friends much happiness at their beautiful Kentucky paradise. Peace to all.

12 Jun 2010 9:37 AM

Thank you for sharing Summer Bird's arrival at his beautiful home.  May he always be treated so well and I sincerely wish all the best for him in the future.

13 Jun 2010 3:39 PM
Sandra in Lexington

Kentucky is absolutely honored to have Summerbird standing in the Bluegrass!  Surrounded by all of this beauty...I love my Kentucky home!

13 Jun 2010 4:16 PM

Check out the photos on their website!  I hope we can inspect the stallions during the yearling sales.

14 Jun 2010 8:12 AM

Take good care of our beloved boy!  His many fans will surely miss watching him run!  It's very comforting to know he retires to such a wonderful, peaceful home at Paul's Mill. Have some peppermints and thanks for giving us some spectacular race memories, Summer Bird <3  

14 Jun 2010 10:36 AM

Help... where is the video???  I have searched everywhere.  I love Birdstone as a two year old, and was so thrilled with Mine That Bird, and lovely Summer Bird.  Someone , please, give me the link to the video of his arrival at Paul's Mill.

14 Jun 2010 11:13 AM
s lee

Sounds like a great place to start a new job (and a new life).

You asked about other great farms.  If you're ever in Ireland, go to the Irish National Stud in Kildare.  The barns are big, the stalls fantastic, the ceilings have moon windows (really) and there are big windows everywhere.

The stallions were civil, and held conversations over their pasture fences to other boys in the neighborhood.

But my favorite was the mares and foals.  It was time to bring them for some grain and a vet check and the stud workers went out to this big pasture to bring them in.  Many of the mares knew the routine and headed back to the barn, slowly, grabbing grass along the way, but going in the right direction.  One mare made a game of it, ducking around each worker, sprinting to the far end of the pasture and sprinting back, ears up, eyes alight, her glorious chesnut coat glowing in the late spring light, and her bay filly dancing along with her.  There was no malice, no anger, no fear, just a game of tag with these mere mortal earthbound men.  And these horsemen had all the time in the world and slowly worked her back to the barn - and they knew and she knew that eventually, gently, she'd come in.  But sometimes you just have to play.  I remember when she came in to this one man he laughed at her and rubbed her ears and she nuzzled him and put her head down to his chest - you could see the affection ran both ways and they were saying to each other "now, wasn't that fun".  I talked to him afterwards and he said she only did that when she was feeling good.  She'd lost her foal the year before and sulked all summer.  Now she was happy again and loved to play.  He said, "Stallions get all the money and most of the glory, but a good broodmare is gold.  Pure shining gold, and she's one of the best."

14 Jun 2010 2:03 PM

I have been to several farms in KY, this farm is on my list to visit soon.  I would love the opportunity to visit Calumet some day, that of course would be my favorite choice.  Have to say that so far it would have to be Claiborne at the top!

15 Jun 2010 9:28 AM
Melissa Pappas

Wow! I'm ready to head back to my Kentucky after reading this. It's a treat to see both Alexa King and Ben Walden, Jr. responding.

Lazaro, my story is very similar to yours. I was very involved in the business in the late 1980s and 90s. I also have photos of me with Secretariat.

Among my favorite stallion facilities back then were Claiborne, Gainesway, and Vinery. A dear friend of racing, Buck Stoops, was at Vinery in those days and I always felt very "at home" there. I believe the stallion manager's name was Allistair (I know I just butchered the spelling.) I remember when Black Tie Affair arrived. What a magnificent guy!

I miss those days (and those people). Does my heart good to know about Paul's Mill. A beautiful, quiet place is what these stallions need and deserve.

16 Jun 2010 2:47 PM

Thanks for the blog and the pics of Summer Bird!  Gorgeous!

Thanks to "s lee" for the beautiful description of the Irish National Stud.  Just amazing.

16 Jun 2010 5:40 PM


I just stumbled on the video you might be looking for:

16 Jun 2010 5:49 PM

What an absolutely beautiful farm and an absolutely beautiful horse.

Thank you for sharing the photos and wonderful story with us.  

17 Jun 2010 9:25 AM
Julia O.

Wow! Paul's Mill is beautiful! I just checked out their website. It is really nice! Best wishes to Summer Bird at Paul's Mill. Thank you for writing great blogs!

22 Jun 2010 8:17 AM

What a nice guy to come off the truck that quietly and stand for the photos. Looks like SB has a great mind! Good luck to all his connections on a sucessful career at Paul's Mill.

24 Jun 2010 8:13 PM

SummerBird is a gran addition to any farm.  He ran magnificently. They are very lucky he is there.  Classy guy he sure enough is!!!

11 Jul 2010 4:13 AM


29 Jul 2010 1:22 AM

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