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.
A prominent feature of the new farm included standing a select group of quality stallions, which has included prominent sires SKY CLASSIC, PEAKS AND VALLEYS, MARIA’S MON and BROKEN VOW. Recent additions to the roster include exciting young sire homebred ALTERNATION.
Ms. Abercrombie’s dedication to her horses has been justly rewarded. Pin Oak’s LAUGH AND BE MERRY earned the Eclipse Award as Champion Turf Female and future stallion SKY CLASSIC garnered the Eclipse Award as Champion Turf Horse. Other champions were PEAKS AND VALLEYS, who earned Canada’s Sovereign Award as Horse of the Year and Champion 3-year-old Colt, and HASTEN TO ADD collected the Sovereign as Champion Grass Horse. Over the years, Ms. Abercrombie and Pin Oak Stud have been honored by its peers with several prominent awards – in 1995 as the national Thoroughbred Breeder of the Year by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA); in 2005 she received the Hardboot Award presented by the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association/Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders (KTA/KTOB), and in 2012 she was again honored, this time with the William T. Young Humanitarian Award, also presented by KTA/KTOB. In 2018, Ms. Abercrombie received one of the industry’s most prestigious awards when she was named the Thoroughbred Club of America Honor Guest.
The relentless pursuit of assembling a top-notch broodmare band continues daily and has resulted in numerous quality runners since its inception. To date, over 100 stakes winners have been produced or campaigned by Pin Oak, including multiple champion-siring BROKEN VOW, a homebred G2 stakes winner who anchors the stallion roster. Other Grade 1 stakes winners besides the afore mentioned SKY CLASSIC, PEAKS AND VALLEYS and LAUGH AND BE MERRY include MISSED THE STORM, CONFESSIONAL, SEE HOW SHE RUNS and CHANGEINTHEWEATHER. Additional top performers from the Pin Oak program include such Graded stakes-winning $500,000-plus earners as current Pin Oak stallion ALTERNATION, BEDANKEN, BROWNIE POINTS (dam of 2018 multiple Graded stakes-winning homebred SYNCHRONY), CRYPTOGRAPH, EUPHONY, GOLD METAL DANCER, and OVERHEARD, plus $500,000-plus earner ALTERNATE (dam of ALTERNATION).
Over the past four decades, Pin Oak has embodied excellence in Thoroughbred breeding and racing but perhaps as importantly, Ms. Abercrombie has always been an active supporter of her community and the racing industry, ensuring that her hallmark of devotion to the horse and the sport of racing will continue.
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.