State Officials visit Winbak Farm in Maryland

02:25 AM 24 Apr 2014 NZST
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Jeff Fout, head trainer at Winbak Farm, talks to state officials in the training barn Monday as part of a tour of breeding farms.
Photo by Cheryl Mattix
State Treasurer Nancy Kopp, far right, listens intently as Winbak Farm owner Joe Thomson talks about his interest in miniature horses as a staff member pets a miniature in the barn.
Photo by Cheryl Mattix

CHESAPEAKE CITY — Maryland State Treasurer Nancy Kopp visited Winbak Farm in Chesapeake City Monday as the final of four stops to visit a variety of horse breeding farms in Maryland.

“I put this trip together for the state treasurer, who requested a first-hand look at some of our top horse breeding farms after she heard a briefing on the proposed Maryland Horse Park System last year,” said Maryland Horse Industry Board Executive Director Ross Peddicord.

As part of her duties as state treasurer, Kopp sits on the three-member State Board of Public Works that approves state expenditures. The other members are the governor and the comptroller.

When asked if she’s a big fan of horses, Kopp replied, “Isn’t everyone?”

“I’m really enjoying seeing these operations today,” Kopp said during a tour of Winbak Farm Monday. “It reinforces for me the importance of the horse industry to Maryland’s economy.”

Breeding farms play a key role in Maryland’s horse industry, as do venues that showcase horse events all over the state.

The Horse Industry Board is currently trying to create a statewide system linking key players that already host horse events.

“The system really already exists,” Peddicord said. “We just have to promote it as a connected system and make people aware of all of the assets Maryland already has.”

A coach bus pulled into grounds of the 3,000-acre Standardbred farm at Winbak about 3 p.m. Monday after several members of the Maryland Horse Industry Board, Maryland Stadium Authority, State Treasurer Nancy Kopp and the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Mary Ellen Setting had already visited Country Life Farm, a Thoroughbred breeding farm in Bel Air; Rigbie Farm, an Arabian breeding farm in Darlington; and Hilltop Farm, a European warmblood breeding farm in Colora.

Joe and JoAnn Thomson have owned Winbak Farm since 1991.

Thomson hosted the state guests Monday, along with help from his general manager, Garrett Bell, and head trainer, Jeff Fout.

Guests saw a one-day-old foal, top racing horses, Clydesdales and miniature horses.

“We have 350 yearlings,” Thomson said, as he explained they love to raise horses in Maryland, even though they have locations in Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania and Ontario. “It’s a great place to raise a horse.”

Winbak Farm has had $250 million in winnings from horses bred in Chesapeake City. The farm employs 75 to 80 people, including two veterinarians.

By Cheryl Mattix, reprinted with permission by www.cecildaily.com

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