Claiborne Farm donates a 3,000 acre conservation easement

Kennedy Creek bisects Claiborne Farm

Internationally renowned Claiborne Farm in Bourbon County has donated a 3,000-acre conservation easement to the Bluegrass Conservancy, guaranteeing the farm will remain agricultural into the future.

“It’s something we’ve wanted to do because we love the farm,” said Dell Hancock, a member of the family that owns Claiborne. “A conservation easement means it cannot be developed. It’s a wonderful feeling for all of us to know it is going to remain a farm in perpetuity; it won’t become a subdivision.”

The donation pushes the Bluegrass Conservancy to slightly more than 17,000 acres that it protects with conservation easements throughout 10 counties in the inner Bluegrass, executive director Mackenzie Royce said. Landowners are not paid for development rights when they donate land to the conservancy. “All easements are donated,” Royce said.

The Bluegrass Conservancy, established in 1995, is entirely privately funded. It is a separate organization from Fayette County’s Purchase of Development Rights program that pays landowners for development rights.

Royce said there is no farm she is asked about more than Claiborne when she goes out to talk to farmers about protecting their land. “Now we can say, yes, Claiborne is protected,” she said. Royce expressed confidence that Claiborne’s donation would encourage other owners’ large properties to think seriously about the future of their farms.

Claiborne is owned by Dell Hancock; her sister, Clay; and their brother Seth, who manages the farm. “My sister and I don’t have children. Seth has two children, Walker and Allison. Walker is keen on the farm. It’s nice to think he will have the land intact,” Dell Hancock said. Another brother, Arthur, has a successful farm – Stone Farm , near Paris, Kentucky.

Claiborne was established in 1910 by Arthur B. Hancock and has been operated by members of his family ever since. Arthur B. Hancock imported breeding stock from Europe that made Claiborne Farm an international leader in breeding, sales, and racing. He bred Vigil, the 1923 Preakness Stakes winner. Among his famous sires was Sir Gallahad III purchased from France who was the leading sire in 1930, 1933, 1934, and 1940 and who sired 1930 Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox. Claiborne Farm was part of a 1936 consortium that imported Blenheim II from England and in 1944 purchased Princequillo who became the leading U.S. sire for 1957 and 1958. Claiborne Farm bred Kentucky Derby winner Swale.

This Paris, Kentucky farm has been home to many famous Thoroughbreds including leading sires Bold Ruler, Nasrullah and Mr. Prospector. The most famous was Secretariat. Seth Hancock, who served on the board of Churchill Downs, syndicated Secretariat for $6 million for breeding. ‘Big Red’ stood at Claiborne Farm from the end of his racing career in 1973 until his death in 1989.

Claiborne Farm has been visited twice by Queen Elizabeth. The farm was also home to all the horses owned by the Phipps family. Kentucky Derby Tours plans to visit the farm on this years trip during the 2012 Kentucky Derby week.