Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Josephine Abercrombie, March 21, 2007

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:06 - Background / Maria's Mon (Race horse) at Pin Oak Stud

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Partial Transcript: Uh, I'm Dan Kenny. This interview with Josephine Abercrombie was, uh, conducted on March 21st, 2007.

Segment Synopsis: Abercrombie begins by talking briefly about being born in Jamaica, asparagus growing, and acquiring Maria's Mon to stand stud at her farm, Pin Oak Stud.

Keywords: Horse farms; Maria's Mon (Race horse); Outcrossing; Pin Oak Stud; Saddle horses; The Lexington School; Yearlings

Subjects: American saddlebred horse.; Asparagus; Horse breeders; Horse racing; Horses; Jamaica,; Kentucky Derby; Monarchos (Race horse); Stallions--Breeding; Texas; Thoroughbred horse; Thoroughbred horse--Pedigrees

00:05:40 - Racing / Stallions / Farm manager Clifford Barry

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Partial Transcript: From the racing side at Pin Oak, what race that you haven't won would be the one race you'd want to win in your colors?

Segment Synopsis: Abercrombie talks about the racing side of Pin Oak Stud, stallion selection, and the success of the farm under Clifford Barry's management.

Keywords: Barry, Clifford; Broken Vow (Race horse); Horse farms; Molson Export Million; Molson Mile; Peaks and Valleys (Race horse); Pin Oak Stud; Sky Classic (Race horse); Winning

Subjects: Canada; Farm managers; Horse breeders; Horse grooms; Horse racing; Kentucky; Kentucky Derby; Mares; Mr. Prospector (Race horse); Nijinsky (Race horse); Northern Dancer (Race horse); Stallions--Breeding; Thoroughbred horse--Pedigrees

00:11:58 - Pin Oak Stud's breeding program

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Partial Transcript: Appears that, uh, you've not joined in with the, um, the rest of the, um, breeding farms which have almost unlimited numbers in their stallions books, upwards of two hundred in some of them.

Segment Synopsis: Abercrombie explains Pin Oak's breeding books and stallion program.

Keywords: Alternate (Race horse); Fertility; Horse farms; Keeneland sales; Nearco (Race horse); Pin Oak Stud; Sky Classic (Race horse); Stallion books; Strike a Balance (Race horse); Yearlings

Subjects: Fillies; Horse breeders; Horse buyers; Horse farms; Horses--Breeding--Kentucky; Mares; Race horses.; Stallions--Breeding; Tesio, Federico, 1869-1954; Thoroughbred horse--Pedigrees

00:15:47 - Boxing

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Partial Transcript: In one of the, um, clippings from the Keeneland Library it mentions you coming back from having run second in a Grade I in England.

Segment Synopsis: Abercrombie talks about her brief stint in the boxing world as a promoter.

Keywords: Boxing promoters; Tate, Frank

Subjects: Boxers (Sports); Boxing; Boxing managers; Farm managers; Friends; Horse farms--Kentucky; Horse racing; Horse racing England; Houston (Tex.)

00:20:30 - Childhood / Showing horses

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Partial Transcript: When did you, uh, begin to live full time at Pin Oak in Kentucky?

Segment Synopsis: Abercrombie tells the story of the original Pin Oak farm in Kentucky ending up being owned by the University of Kentucky. She talks about her childhood and how she got into showing horses.

Keywords: Growing up; Harness ponies; Horse back riding; Horse farms; Nunn, Louie; Pin Oak Stud; Pin oak trees; Polo ponies; Riding lessons; Saddle horses

Subjects: American saddlebred horse.; Childhood; Fathers; Hackney horse.; Horse farms--Kentucky; Horse trainers; Horse-shows.; Horsemanship; Quarter horse; Sons; Texas; University of Kentucky

00:25:48 - Her father

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Partial Transcript: Was your father a horseman?

Segment Synopsis: Abercrombie talks about her father's business success and how her parents met.

Keywords: Blowout preventers; Cameron Iron Works; Warwick Hotel

Subjects: Colombia; Fathers; Houston (Tex.); Inventors.; Louisiana; Mothers; Oil fields; Oil wells--Blowouts.; Parents; Texas

00:30:11 - Introduction to Thoroughbreds

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Partial Transcript: How about the, uh, introduction of Thoroughbreds into your life then?

Segment Synopsis: Abercrombie explains how she got into Thoroughbreds through her uncle and father getting involved in racing and breeding as a hobby.

Keywords: Broodmares; Elevation (Race horse); Keeneland sales; Mr. Washington (Race horse); Pin Oak Stud; Yearlings

Subjects: Fathers; Hobbies; Horse breeders; Horse buyers; Horse racing; Horses--Breeding; Quarter horse; Thoroughbred horse; Thoroughbred horse--Breeding; Uncles

00:36:01 - Training and racing

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Partial Transcript: As I drove up to the farm, I no--I hadn't been here in daylight hours for quite some time, I didn't realize you had turf gallops.

Segment Synopsis: Abercrombie talks about training her horses at the Kentucky farm, different track surfaces, training in South Carolina, and racing in Texas.

Keywords: European style; Holly Hill Training Center; Horse farms; Lone Star racetrack; Pari-mutuel racing; Parimutuel racing; Peaks and Valleys (Race horse); Pin Oak Stud; Polytrack; Turf gallops; Two year olds; Woodbine racetrack

Subjects: Dallas (Tex.); Horse farms--Kentucky; Horse racing--Betting; Horse racing--Law and legislation; Horse trainers; Houston (Tex.); Race horses.; Racetracks (Horse racing); Texas; Thoroughbred horse

00:39:43 - Horse trainers

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Partial Transcript: We have some horses in Oklahoma and they'll go--

Segment Synopsis: Abercrombie lists the trainers that she works with.

Keywords: Broken Vow (Race horse); Donnie Von Hemel; Graham Motion; Malcolm Pierce; Mike Stidham; Motion, Graham; Pierce, Malcolm; Stidham, Michael; Von Hemel, Donnie

Subjects: Horse trainers; Oklahoma; Race horses.

00:41:19 - Founding The Lexington School

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Partial Transcript: Well, let's shift off the horses for awhile.

Segment Synopsis: Abercrombie talks about some of her civic endeavors, particularly founding The Lexington School.

Keywords: Civic endeavors; Sky Classic series; The Lexington School; Young, Jr., W.T.

Subjects: Education; Lexington (Ky.); Music; Schools; University of Kentucky

00:43:51 - Asparagus farming

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Partial Transcript: On a lighter note, uh, how did Pin Oak, this internationally well-known racing and breeding outfit, get to be known far and wide for producing asparagus?

Segment Synopsis: Abercrombie talks about her great success growing asparagus at her first Pin Oak farm.

Keywords: Crops; Farms; Pin Oak Stud

Subjects: Asparagus; Farming

00:45:32 - Trends in the horse industry

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Partial Transcript: Um, what were your goals for racing in Europe?

Segment Synopsis: Abercrombie talks about the trend of Americans racing in Europe and why it has declined over the years. She talks about the change from large family-run stables to more commercial operations. She talks about her feelings on the relationship between horse racing and gambling, and discusses her preferred race tracks.

Keywords: Attitudes; Broken Vow (Race horse); Changes; Children; Commercial; Delaware; Europe; Family; Gambling; Horse trainers; Keeneland (Race track); Parties; Personal; Respect; Retirement; Saratoga (Race track); Slot machines; Social; Stables; Tax bills; Trends; marketing

Subjects: Families.; Generations; Horse racing; Keeneland (Lexington, Ky.); Race horses; Racetracks (Horse racing)

00:53:10 - Attachment to Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Uh, really the last thing I had in my notes was just, um, without being, uh, overly irreverent, um, you've had a few husbands.

Segment Synopsis: Abercrombie discusses her first impressions of Kentucky and talks about why she has grown attached to the state.

Keywords: Farms; Fathers; Giving; Home; Husbands; Kentuckians; Married; Music; Philanthropy; Showing horses; University of Kentucky

Subjects: Kentucky

00:56:03 - Being a woman in the horse industry

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Partial Transcript: I think we g--there was one other question.

Segment Synopsis: Abercrombie says she never felt that being a woman in the horse industry was an obstacle for her. She talks about working as a trainer, which she says was unusual for a woman at that time. She talks about her family's attitude about quitting.

Keywords: Challenges; Colleges; Competition; Fathers; Gender; Horse trainers; Horse training; Obstacles; Ohio; Quitting; St. Louis (Mo.); Thoroughbreds

Subjects: Horse racing; Race horses; Women in horse sports