Bobby Zen

T. K. Kuegler, Founder and Managing Partner of Wasabi Ventures Stables, and his wife Michele, Director of Aftercare and Community, have purchased a 92-acre farm in Lexington. Named Serendipity Springs, it will be the new home of Wasabi and its entities, Wasabi Stallions and The Horse Fund.

“We looked at a bunch of farms. We’d been looking for about six months and we actually weren’t originally going to look at [this one]. But we said, ‘We’ve looked at everything else. Why not?’” said Kuegler. “It doesn’t have a lot of road frontage, but it’s like a martini glass because it opens up massively in the back, it’s huge. It’s got 75 undeveloped acres.”

Since it was established five years ago, Wasabi’s breeding operation has been based in the Mid-Atlantic, primarily at St. Omer’s Farm in Forest Hill, Maryland. But as things have progressed and expanded for Wasabi, in both breeding and racing, Kuegler knew that establishing themselves in the heart of horse country was a necessary next step.

“I was a Maryland kid. I grew up in Maryland, I love Maryland and I still think of Maryland as home. But we realized was that much of the future of racing goes through Kentucky,” said Kuegler. “We spent some time in Lexington and loved it and said, ‘It probably makes sense to be there, breed there and set [up] the breeding operation there. That plan probably started in motion about two years ago.”

However, Kuegler emphasizes that this isn’t the end of Wasabi’s ties to Maryland.

“I’m not closing the door on Maryland. It’s more like I’m expanding the door in Kentucky. I’m not seeing this as an ‘either or,’ but a ‘both’ in many ways,” he said.

Wasabi breeds the majority of its mares to stallions based in Kentucky, though they also own a large piece of the Maryland stallion Blofeld, who stands at Murmur Farm. Kuegler explained that shipping costs, along with the larger concentration of service providers and staff for hire were all factors taken into consideration when shifting majority of their breeding operation to Lexington.

“We’re always going to have five or six mares that are there [in Maryland] supporting [Blofeld]. They’ll be in that region and they’ll foal out there. They’re not all going to Kentucky, it’s just that the core base [of broodmares] will be here,” said Kuegler. “I think the other key thing is economics. I was spending $30,000 a year to ship mares from Maryland to Kentucky to breed, to only ship them back to Maryland to foal out. I mean 90% of what I breed to is Kentucky stallions, so that’s $30,000 now I don’t have to spend in shipping.

“There are very few places in the country that are as horse centric as Lexington. We wanted to be a part of that.”

Looking ahead, the goal is to move around 15 mares to the farm by the end of June or early July. In the meantime, renovations will begin to build another barn and fence a variety of new paddocks. Kuegler estimates it will likely be this time next year that majority of their mares will be residing at the farm.

But this is only the beginning for Wasabi in Lexington.

“The vision is to also purchase another piece of property to have a training track and be able to do it end-to-end, from birth all the way to racing to retirement in Kentucky. This piece of property is our first step. [We’ll get] this property to be a world-class breeding facility and then keep looking. When we get the next piece of property that works for us, [we’ll have] a racing operation here too,” said Kuegler.

Serendipity Springs also offers opportunity for an expansion of The Horse Fund, Wasabi’s aftercare partner, by providing a temporary home for Wasabi horses as they make the transition from the track to an aftercare facility prior to the start of their new careers.

“The dream here is to be that place where we can be the stopgap, instead of some other nonprofit farm in the retirement cycle, as they are often full and already stressed out. If we could take over some of that with our horses, it just helps the whole system.”

When it comes to their racehorses, Kuegler plans to have Wasabi continue racing in the Mid-Atlantic through the summer before bringing the string, along with trainer Jesse Cruz and assistant trainer Grace Smith, to Kentucky. The goal is to start at Keeneland for the fall meet and later, move on to Turfway Park for the winter.

All of these plans underway, and those on the horizon, are part of the 10-year vision Kuegler shared with his team just five years ago, during the beginning stage of Wasabi’s breeding operation.

“I said, ‘We’re going to start slow and build to be a world-class breeding operation. We’re not going to come in and buy boatloads of mares the first couple years because we’re going to build to it.’ Slowly, over the last three years at every breeding sale, the number of purchases and the value of those purchases keeps eking up. It just keeps getting a little higher and that was always the plan,” said Kuegler.

The team has accomplished plenty since Wasabi Ventures Stables was founded in 2017 and there is no doubt that the next five to 10 years only promise more growth across all of Wasabi’s entities.

“I learned long ago that it’s much better to learn and bring people along with you,” said Kuegler. “If you have a plan to try to be a world-class operation, I don’t know how you do that in the modern world and not have a base of operations in Kentucky. I don’t even know how it’s possible unless you’re here.”

The post Kueglers Purchase Lexington Farm, New Home of Wesabi Ventures Stables appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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