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Fast Horses of Marion County

Timeline 1950 to 1959

1952

  • Bonnie M. Heath II and Jack Dudley form D&H Stable.
  • Hire trainer Hugh Fontaine and begin to buy race horses.

1956
  • Needles, of Bonnie Heath Farms, Ocala, first Florida-bred Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winner
  • Joe O'Farrell moves to Ocala from Maryland, where he raised horses.
  • O'Farrell becomes part-owner of Ocala Stud (formerly Dickey Stables), 993 acres with 21 horses.
  • Thoroughbred horse farms in Marion County jump from seven to 21 totaling 8,446 acres.
  • Largest farms are Rosemere, Ocala Stud, Shady Lane and Bonnie Heath Farm.
  • Ocala population tops 15,000.
  • Bonnie Heath II and Jack Dudley form separate farms.
  • P.A.B. Widener III, grandson of Hialeah Race Track's Joseph Widener, buys 6,700 acres. It becomes Live Oak Plantation and boosts Ocala's credibility as a horse-breeding region.
1957
  • Feb. 25 - O'Farrell organizes the first two-year-old-in-training sale in the U.S. 37 race horses sold.
  • Nov. - Florida Breeders Sales Association (FBSA) founded by O'Farrell, Rose, Heath and Douglas Stewart.
1958
  • June - FBSA starts a magazine, The Florida Horse.
1959
  • Ocala-bred horses win first four spots in the Florida Breeders' Stakes and Florida Breeders' Futurity.
  • News reports say Ocala-bred racehorses are outrunning their pedigrees.
  • My Dear Girl of Ocala Stud is first Ocala filly to win the two-year-old filly championship.
  • Needles becomes the first national racehorse champion to enter stud outside of Kentucky.
  • Dudley's and Heath's decision to stand Needles as a stud in Ocala accelerates breeding in Ocala.
Ocala Thorougbred History
Ocala horse farm
1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s
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      Created by Mary A. C. Fallon          Copyright © 2003 Criterium Communications          All rights reserved