Betting on Herself: Krupp Starts Fresh at Pine Branch Farm

Pine Branch Farm's Meredith Krupp Sara Gordon


Sometimes in life, circumstances arise where you can either sink or swim.

Meredith Krupp, the 32-year-old who purchased Timber Town Farm in Lexington, Kentucky last year and has since launched her own full-service boarding facility named Pine Branch Farm, has had plenty of experience learning how to pick herself up and keep swimming.

Krupp's mother passed away when she was 16. Two years later when she was a freshman in college, she also lost her father.

At the funeral, her father's best friend approached Krupp and told her that he wanted to pay for the remainder of her college tuition.

“I think that was the best gift that he could have given me,” Krupp reflected. “It wasn't so much about paying for it. It gave me someone to answer to. I was 18 years old and had to make all of my own decisions, but I was going to do the opposite of what everyone thought was going to happen to me because I had someone who wasn't going to let me fail.”

During her last semester at the University of Kentucky, Krupp got her first taste of the Thoroughbred business. She had developed a love for horses early in life from attending the races at River Downs in Cincinnati with her father. Krupp was a lifelong equestrian, but she had no experience in the racing world. At a particularly frigid Keeneland January Sale, she watched as a member of a consignment's staff pinhooked a short yearling from $5,000 to $80,000.

“I just thought it was the coolest thing ever,” she recalled. “It was so grassroots and entrepreneurial where if you work hard you can make it. I was hooked. I didn't have any family in the horse business. I knew absolutely no one. But the horse business doesn't care who you are or how much education you have. Everyone has to start at the bottom, which I really enjoyed.”

Krupp took a part-time job with Dr. Arnoldo Monge assisting him in his reproductive work at Hagyard for the breeding season. Looking back, she still cringes when she remembers him telling her to meet him at 3:45 on her first day and she asked him if he meant in the morning or the afternoon. She had a lot to learn, but she was willing work.

Krupp graduated college on a Saturday and began working at Machmer Hall the following Monday. Later, she spent a year in Ocala with Eddie Woods and then returned to Lexington to work at Hunter Valley Farm.

Sara Gordon

“I'm very lucky that I got to be around some true horsemen who were really hands on,” Krupp reflected. “I think that's kind of what inspired me to go a bit more of the farm route. There's so much business behind it–I think more than what people think there is–but at the same time to be able to be hands on and be in the barn, it just seemed like the best of both worlds.”

A few years later, Krupp got married and started managing a farm with her husband. But when the marriage failed, she found herself back at square one. She had to decide if she wanted to stay in the horse business and if so, where she would go from there.

“I went from owning a farm with him to having to fight for what I truly wanted,” she said. “The horse business will for sure humble you. I had to decide if I wanted to play the long game–just put my head down and get back to work.”

Ultimately, Krupp's passion for the horses won out. She began managing a client's farm in Midway.

“I owe so much to these horses because they got me up every day,” Krupp reflected. “During those difficult times when my parents passed away and then when I was going through a difficult time personally, horses are what got me up every morning. You don't have a choice to be sad and lay in bed. No matter what, they have to eat. That's what kept me going.”

Throughout her adult life, Krupp has stayed in touch with her step mother, who remarried after Krupp's father passed away. One day she got a call from her step mom's husband Lee Warren, who had a daughter that was interested in getting involved in the horse business and wanted to work for Krupp for a summer. With no prior horse experience, Carson was assigned to the weed eater. Krupp knew she had something special when, after Carson had finished the entire farm, she asked if she could come weed eat at Krupp's house.

Even though there was no blood relation, the Warrens treated Krupp like family. Carson stayed on for the entire summer and the family took a vacation to Saratoga at the end of her time at the farm. During their trip, Krupp told the Warrens about her dream of one day running her own farm. They supported her wholeheartedly and a few months later, Lee Warren sent her the listing for Timber Town.

The 130-acre property owned by Wayne and Cathy Sweezey was the birthplace of horses like GI Belmont S. winner Tonalist (Tapit) and MGSW Charge It (Tapit). It was once home to champions like Havre de Grace (Saint Liam), Songbird (Medaglia d'Oro) and Unrivaled Belle (Unbridled's Song).

“When Lee sent the listing to me I was like yeah, that would be a dream come true,” Krupp recalled. “I was kind of thinking, 'Get real.' The Sweezeys had such a name and were known for being so meticulous and detail oriented.”

Krupp pulled up to the main office at Timber Town on a Sunday afternoon, expecting to meet with the realtor. Instead, Wayne Sweezey got out of his work truck.

“Wayne can be a pretty intimidating guy,” Krupp recalled with a smile. “But he showed me every nook and cranny of the place and said, 'Now, I'm going to be right down the road. Anything you need, Kathy and I have got you.' I remember getting back in my car and thinking that it was a day I was going to remember for a long time.”

When Lee Warren and Krupp went out to dinner to celebrate a successful purchase, Krupp admitted to Warren that she was still a bit uneasy about running the business side of things on her own. Warren asked if she would be interested in partnering with him. It was an offer that meant the world to Krupp.

“To have my dad's friend come up to me after his funeral and say he was going to pay for my school and then for Lee to say he was going to do this with me, it was like feeling a little glimpse of my dad in these people,” Krupp explained. “I've suffered a lot of loss in my life, but I also feel like I've had a lot of people step up to the plate and believe in me, which is a huge motivation.”

Sara Gordon

Krupp decided to name her new acquisition Pine Branch Farm in honor of the business her father's friend founded, Pine Branch Coal. She vowed that her farm would be a place of community and support, just as so many people encouraged her along the way.

“I still wake up every day and can't believe that I did it,” she admitted. “It just shows you to not give up. The horse business can be so tough and people can be quick to not be on your team. It's easy to play the short game and not root for other people, but a goal of mine is to stay steady in playing the long game and enjoy other people's wins as much as I enjoy my own.”

Farming is in Krupp's blood. Her grandmother, who she was very close with before she passed away last year, was one of 11 kids who grew up on a tobacco farm in Eastern Kentucky and her great uncle Dr. Charles Derrickson helped found Morehead State University's agriculture program. Even so, owning a prestigious piece of the Bluegrass at the age of 32 is certainly not a normal occurrence. Krupp does not plan to let the opportunity go to waste.

“I feel like when you buy a property like this, so many people have questions,” she acquiesced. “I've always been very private about what my parents left me but at the same time, they worked hard and never got to enjoy it. I never spent any of it from the time I was 18. I obviously have had a little help along the way and I don't want to deny that, but I also have been very smart with it and have honored how hard they worked for it. For the longest time I didn't know how to spend their hard-earned money. It feels good knowing that I used it to be able to start over again.”

A few days after Krupp officially purchased the property last fall, Pine Branch Farm was up and running as she started moving in horses from the Keeneland November Sale. At the start of this year, she expected to foal between 15 and 20 mares. She ended up foaling 42. Her full-service boarding facility has already brought in clients like Popatop Stables and Clarmont Racing and Pinhooking.

“I'm so grateful to the Sweezeys for what they built here and the kind of horses they raised because people knew right away when I said I bought a farm on Leestown Road that I had bought Timber Town,” Krupp explained. “The best gift that Wayne and Kathy left behind is their farm manager Josh. He foaled all of Mandy Pope's mares. I know wholeheartedly that if I am not here, things are taken care of just as well.”

All of the experience that Krupp has gained over the years, ever since that first early morning with Dr. Monge going farm to farm checking mares, has led her to this opportunity to put her knowledge to use and raise horses how she believes is best.

“I pride myself on raising a horse that gets into the winner's circle more than I care about them selling in the ring,” she explained. “You don't want your horse's hardest day to be that first race when they're breaking out of the gate, so I really believe in raising a horse tough. My goal for this place is to raise racehorses and to really be able to enjoy it with the people that I'm doing it with.”

To celebrate the conclusion of a successful first breeding season, Krupp recently hosted a crawfish boil at the farm as a thank you to the people who have supported her in this first chapter of what is hopefully a long story for Pine Branch Farm.

“Everyone just kept saying that my dad would be so proud,” said Krupp. “I think a lot of me is emotional that he doesn't get to share it with me. He loved horses and being outside, so I know he'd be enjoying this with me, but I'm thankful that Lee and his girls and everyone can enjoy it with me.”

She continued, “When people tell me they don't know how I've survived all of this, I say that I can either kind of wallow in the fact that I wish my parents were here and that I wish I had more family, or I can live the life that was stolen from them. I feel like it's my duty to live my life. I can't nap during the day no matter how tired I am because if the sun is shining, I don't want to be missing out on life. I get to wake up every morning, walk out my door and be at work, so I'm very blessed.”

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