Horses have always been a part of Josephine Abercrombie’s life. An accomplished rider in her youth, she was very active and competed successfully in the Saddlebred world. In 1949, she made her first foray into the Thoroughbred business when she purchased a group of sales yearlings in a partnership that included her father, Houston oilman J. S. Abercrombie. Three years later, she and her father acquired 1,348 acres in Woodford County, Kentucky and named it Pin Oak. The original Pin Oak raised Simmental cattle, grew tobacco, asparagus and other crops, and began the business of raising Thoroughbreds. Success came quickly to Pin Oak’s budding racing stable with MAKE A PLAY winning the Astarita S. in 1953, followed by a win in the 1955 Louisiana Derby with ROMAN PATROL. Other Grade 1 winners for Pin Oak in the early years were ELOCUTIONIST, TOUCHING WOOD, TREE OF KNOWLEDGE, COOL, and GREASE.
In the 1980s, Ms. Abercrombie focused on establishing a successful operation to provide bloodstock for her passion, Thoroughbred racing. She designed and developed a new farm on U.S. 60, near the original property. The new Pin Oak was a labor of love, transforming a 750-acre hunting preserve into an efficient, functional Thoroughbred nursery from the ground up. Every aspect was carefully considered and dedicated to raising good horses – planting grass and trees, building roads and fences, constructing barns and residences.
Over the past four decades, Pin Oak has embodied excellence in Thoroughbred breeding and racing. With the purchase of Pin Oak Stud by the Bernhard family, the tradition of caring for the horse and the sport of racing will continue.
The Pin Oak homebred won nine of 14 career starts, and won or placed in six graded stakes, earning $725,296. Trained by Graham Motion, Broken Vow won the Philip H. Iselin H.-G2 and Ben Ali S.-G3 and paced in the Gulfstream Park H.-G1, Fayette S., -G3, and the Meadowlands Cup H.-G2 before retiring to start his career at stud. As a stallion, Broken Vow was among the top 15 active sires, with 15% blacktype horses from starters. He is the sire of 159 blacktype horses in total, 80 blacktype winners, 27 graded stakes winners. Included among his six G1 winners: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner and Eclipse Champion Champagne Room; the co-topweight female sprinter Sassy Image; as well as Cotton Blossom, Unbridled Belle, and Rosalind. As a broodmare sire, his daughters have already produced three champions and some 100 blacktype horses, including Eclipse Champion Runhappy.
Bred and raced by Ernie Samuel’s Sam-Son Farm, Sky Classic won 15 races, 13 stakes, nine which were Graded. He earned $3,320,398 and set new course records in both the Rothmans International S.-G1 and the Turf Classic-G1. He was voted the Eclipse Award as Champion Turf Male in 1992, earned Sovereign Awards as Champion 2-Year-Old Colt, Turf Male, and Champion Older Male in Canada, and is a member of Canada’s Racing Hall of Fame. Retired to Pin Oak Stud, Sky Classic sired six champions, 59 stakes winners, 10 Grade 1 winners, and a total of 106 stakes horses in 19 crops to race. Additionally, he is the sire of the dams of at least 43 stakes winners, including three champions. “Standing a stallion of his caliber started a very exciting chapter for Pin Oak, and his impact on our breeding program has proven immeasurable,” remarked farm general manager Clifford Barry.
Peaks and Valleys
A Pin Oak Stud homebred champion, Peaks and Valleys won nine races, placed in five others from 16 starts, and earned $1,589,270. He dominated the Molson Million-G1 and Meadowlands Cup-G1, back-to-back, and also won the Illinois Derby-G2 and Derby Trial S.-G3. At the end of the year he earned the Sovereign Award as Canada’s Horse of the Year and as Champion 3-Year-Old Colt. Peaks and Valleys stood at Pin Oak Stud before finishing his career at Gardiner Farms in Ontario. A leading sire in Canada, Peaks and Valleys sired three champions, 34 stakes winners, including Dollar Bill ($1,225,546) and Black-Eyed Susan S.-G2 winner Chamrousse, and was also broodmare sire of three champions. “Peaks and Valleys was a turning point for this program,” said farm general manager Clifford Barry. “He let us know what it was like to participate in racing at the very highest level.”
Bred and raced by Mr. and Mrs. Morton Rosenthal and trained by Richard Schosberg, Maria’s Mon won the Champagne S.-G1, Futurity S.-G1, and Sanford S.-G3, and earned the Eclipse Award as Champion 2-Year-Old Colt. Retired to Pin Oak, Maria’s Mon received star status by siring Kentucky Derby-G1 winner Monarchos in his first crop. Other Grade 1 winners, among his 61 stakes winners, include Kentucky Derby-G1 winner Super Saver (from his second to last crop), Wait a While (Champion 3-Year-Old Filly), Awesome Maria, Pin Oak homebred See How She Runs, and Monba. As with most great racehorses and stallions, Maria’s Mon was special to all around him and was lost to illness far too soon.