The Pennsylvania Thoroughbred breeding industry is continuing to grow by leaps and bounds, as evidenced by the new addition of Gayle Gerth’s Dana Point Farm, located strategically between Philadelphia Park and Penn National Race Tracks. The 60-plus acre facility was opened Sept. 1, 2008.
Dana Point is the first thoroughbred venture by Gerth a resident of Dana Point, Calif. The farm manager is Maria Vorhauer, who brings a lifetime of experience to the position.
Vorhauer previously offered sales prep, consignments and a myriad of other services through her November Hill Farms.
When Gerth purchased the farm in late July it was vacant. Since then she and Maria have been busy transforming the farm into a top-notch facility for thoroughbreds.
“This will be an elite breeding and foaling facility,” said Vorhauer. “We’ll also be offering training and sales, yet at affordable prices. I’m very fortunate and blessed to be associated with Gayle”.
While Gerth is a relative newcomer to the thoroughbred scene, she has been receiving advice throughout by Vorhauer. Gerth has faced many challenges in her life, but the excitement of starting Dana Point Farm, and buying several broodmares is one her life’s greatest highlights,
Under the name of Lainey Bug Stables, she has horses that are in training with Murray Rojas, who is currently one of the leading trainers at Penn National.
“Never in my life have I woken up and said, ‘I’m happy … really happy’ until I met Maria and bought my first thoroughbred horses,” she said. “Something happened that fulfilled a part of me that was totally void of what it needed, and that’s part of the reason for this farm, however, I could never accomplish this without Maria. She is just amazing. All I can do is put in the money and keep the books. The success of this place should be Maria’s crown, not mine, and I really mean that.”
Gerth, a native of Los Angeles, lives in the Pacific coast community of Dana Point. Currently, Gerth is flying back and forth between Pennsylvania and California as the farm project progresses. The majority of work was completed by Oct. 1, 2008.
Gerth and Vorhauer met at the New York Breeders’ Sales Co. Saratoga fall mixed sale in 2007. That sale marked the start of Gerth’s involvement with thoroughbreds, which ultimately led to the birth of Dana Point Farm.
Vorhauer helped Gerth sign up at the sales office as a buyer. Gerth went back to the auction two days later and bought two mares in partnership with Vorhauer, which were brought back to Pennsylvania.
Soon after, she bought two more in-foal mares, one of which is Connie Bar, the dam of Bar Fly Blues, who has won four of seven starts this year at Delaware Park and over $80,000. Connie Bar foaled a Pennsylvania bred colt by Petionville this spring and is currently in foal to Congaree.
“I’m in it because I love the horses, and I found my dream – I started thinking about a farm of my own,” said Gerth. “When I sold my business and retired, I didn’t have a clue as to what I wanted to do. I just sort of fell into this. I’m learning as I go.”
Even though the property was overgrown she fell in love with it. “We didn’t even know we had run-in sheds, that’s how high the grass and weeds were,” said Gerth. She negotiated with the owner, set up a quick closing date, and began to get the farm in shape.
“I think one thing that Gayle is learning is how much thought and time it takes to set up the barns properly. My main focus is, and always has been, the welfare of the horses,” said Vorhauer. “In a very short time it’s amazing how much we’ve accomplished.”
Because the farm had been vacant for so long, it was in need of a complete cleaning and overhaul.
The main barn at the top of the property has 32 new stalls and an indoor track around the perimeter for light exercise.
There are new seeded grass paddocks with run-in sheds. We’ve built a separate stallion barn with an indoor breeding shed and a separate barn for mares and foaling. Several of the stalls open out into a small enclosed paddock.
“Our goal is to provide each horse with individual care and create an outstanding breeding and foaling facility in Pennsylvania, as well as offering services such as sales representation, buying and selling horses, shipping, layups, and sales prep, all at affordable prices,” said Vorhauer. “Every service that I formerly offered at November Hill will now be offered at Dana Point. It’s not so much about quantity here, but quality. You won’t find another facility in the state that offers the kind of personalized care that we do!”
“Gayle (Gerth) said that this farm is her dream … I was honored to be chosen to be able to help her fulfill her dream and it’s also a great opportunity,” said Vorhauer.
Dana Point Farm currently owns 10 mares and foals by such sires as Hold That Tiger, Petionville, Dance with Ravens, Wiseman’s Ferry, Fidrych and all registered Pennsylvania breeds.
“We’ll see in the next five years where we want to go, what we want to do, as far as our own. I really enjoy the breeding part of the industry,” said Gerth.
“This is the first time in my life that I’m doing something that’s really for me,” she said. “I am extremely excited about starting the Dana Point Farm and sharing my experience with others in the industry.”