By Katie Petrunyak
The virtual parade of Visit Horse Country tours rolls on as farms continue to release online tours, providing stir-crazy racing fans access to the breathtaking landscape exclusive to the Bluegrass Region.
Friday, Spendthrift Farm released their first virtual farm visit with a behind-the-scenes look at the “Future Stars of Tomorrow.”
“People are pretty familiar with our stallion tour, but I think they love to get a peek of the behind-the-scenes bit that they don't normally experience,” said Spendthrift General Manager Ned Toffey.
“And of course, the younger horses always provide great content and everyone gets a huge kick out of them.”
Assistant Marketing Director Autry Graham led Friday's tour with a look at Spendthrift's yearlings, mares, and foals. At the yearling division, viewers met a full brother to the multiple graded stakes-winning Kanthaka (Jimmy Creed). Graham talked through the movement and management of young horses as they grow up from foaling through weaning and on. Viewers also caught a glimpse of Spendthrift's new training track, which opened last summer.
Toffey said that he sees this as an opportunity to bring in new fans and to educate viewers on the daily life of a working Thoroughbred breeding farm. “We see this as a nice distraction for people, but it's also an effective way of introducing people who might not be familiar with what we do. We're always happy to be able to share that with people, but particularly at a time like this, when people could really stand to see these nice, upbeat images.”
On top of the positive vibes brought on by the virtual tours, Spendthrift has also conducted a social media challenge for the horse industry. Their post asks members of the equine community to upload a favorite racing memory or a fun Visit Horse Country experience, or to share what they love about Kentucky.
Spendthrift kicked off the challenge with a picture of Beholder nosing past Songbird to take the 2016 Breeders' Cup Distaff before they extended an invitation to Claiborne Farm to participate as well. From there, the post took off with hundreds of fans chiming in with their memories, and many top farms, sales companies, and Kentucky venues joining in by posting favorite photos and videos of their own.
Toffey said, “People are spending a lot of their time on social media, and they need distractions from what's going on in this unprecedented time. We see this as an opportunity for social media to have a more positive influence than it oftentimes has. This is inspiring for people and a lot of fun for us all to go back and reminisce.”
Spendthrift will continue their virtual tours with the release of another video on Monday featuring the Spendthrift Stallions.
The series is produced by Bryan Starr Cinematography, highlighting the sunshine and scenery that fans can't directly access with the cancellation of all tours for the foreseeable future.
“We're all very lucky at Spendthrift to be able to come to work at such a beautiful place,” said Toffey. “The horse farms of Kentucky are truly unique, and we see this as an opportunity to showcase a little part of that.”
“Thanks to Visit Horse Country, the interest in farm tours has increased greatly over the last year or so,” he continued. “So we wanted to provide something for all the folks who had planned a visit and had to cancel. Plus, there are so many people stuck in their houses right now maybe going a little stir-crazy. If we can give them a break from that, then that's a great thing.”