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: http://www.paulsmill.com/