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History

Marion County Equine Industry Timeline

 

1936

Rosemere Farm becomes the first thoroughbred farm in Ocala.

 

1948      

The Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association (and now Owners’) is established in Miami in 1955, moves to the grounds of Golden Hills now Ocala National in 1961 and relocates to airport road in 2002 with the addition of the Florida Thoroughbred museum and art gallery

 

1956      

Champion Thoroughbred racehorse Needles wins the Kentucky Derby and puts Ocala on the map for racing, his win increases the number of farms from a few to hundreds in less than a decade. A Needles statue honoring the champion is at Heathbrook Mall. 

 

1958      

FTBOA starts a magazine, The Florida Horse, to promote the thoroughbred industry, the magazines creates national distribution in 2012.

 

1961      

Local horse Carry Back wins the Kentucky Derby and becomes national champion 3 year old thoroughbred colt. 

 

1962      

Ocala Breeder Sales annual sale grows, so auctions are scheduled twice a year in Ocala. The breeders’ sales were a brainchild of Joe O’Farrell, owner of historic Ocala Stud, and other horsemen to promote the area.

 

1964      

Famed thoroughbred champion Needles passes away at 31. He was so beloved that his ashes are interred at FTBOA.

 

1968      

Champion thoroughbred racehorse Dr. Fager breaks the world record for the fastest mile on a dirt track that record still stands today.

 

1970      

Harry T. Mangurian, Jr. acquires Tartan Farms (of Scotch tape fame), later it was renamed Mockingbird Farms and Winding Oaks, the thoroughbred farm on Hwy 200 has the largest thoroughbred cemetery in the state serving as the final resting ground for many of Florida’s top thoroughbred champion racehorses.

 

1974      

Racehorse Foolish Pleasure becomes champion 2 year old colt (downtown Williston, his birthplace, bears a sign in his honor). He went on to win the Kentucky Derby in 1975.

 

1978      

Champion thoroughbred racehorse Affirmed, trained in Marion County, wins the American Triple Crown. 

 

1979      

Famous Florida-bred racehorse Desert Vixen inducted into the United States National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

 

1985      

Thoroughbred racehorse Precisionist becomes national champion sprinter.

 

1990      

Florida identifies the Thoroughbred industry as an agriculture industry providing a Green Belt Exemption.

 

1990      

Kentucky Derby winning Florida-bred Unbridled becomes champion 3 year old colt racehorse.

 

1990s    

Daily Wire to Wire, a racing digest, is launched in the county and is one of the only dailies produced in any horse breeding region in the world.

 

2001      

Second Chance Farm established for women inmates to work with retired Thoroughbred racehorses via Florida Thoroughbred Charities, the FTBOA, the national Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and the Florida Department of Corrections.

 

2003      

The Florida Horse Park just south of the county becomes a reality.

 

2007      

Ocala/Marion County is coined the “Horse Capital of the World” after a national horse council survey showed that there were more horses and ponies in the county than any other in the U.S. The phrase is trademarked by the FTBOA.

 

2013      

Harry T. Mangurian, Jr. is inducted into the Marion County Agriculture Hall of Fame for being such a prominent Thoroughbred racehorse owner and breeder. 

 

2014      

The Florida Horse Park builds one of the largest covered arenas in the Southeast to promote equine events and other tourism events.    

 

2014      

FTBOA launches Thoroughbred Week, a horse racing TV show, in Marion County in January, show is so well received it goes nationwide in May.

 

2015      

A Ocala/Marion County economic impact study shows that equines outnumber people 2 to 1 in the county and is about 18% of the county’s total GDP.

 

The Florida Horse Park Timeline

 

1996

March 14: Florida Agriculture Center & Horse Park Authority was created by state statue

 

1998 

January 22: A 50 year lease commences between the Florida Agriculture Center & Horse Park Authority and the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.

 

2005

May 1: Florida Agriculture Center & Horse Park Authority Board is vacated by state statute. Tom Warriner is then appointed by Commissioner Charles Bronson as the new Chairman of the Board.

June 1: International Event Organizer Shelley Lambert is hired as the first employee of the Park.

August 5: First Full Board Meeting of the newly formed Florida Horse Park.

August 8: Olympian David O’Connor is hired to design first cross country courses at the Park.

October 4: Florida Horse Park Groundbreaking Ceremony.

November 5-6: The first event, Ocala Fall Horse Trials and Sunshine State Driving Competition, is held at the Park.

November 14: Construction of the All-Weather Arena Commences.

 

2006

January 16: First Dressage Event is held at the Park in the newly constructed All-Weather Arena.

April 8: Children’s Home Society’s Dozer Days makes its debut at the Park.

April 8: First Arena Polo Game is held at the Park.

April 7-9: The first Show Jumping show, the Ocala Jumping Classic, is held at the Florida Horse Park.

April 7-9: The first international event is held at the Park: The Sunshine State CAI International Combined Driving Event.

April 20-23: The first international 3-Day Event is held at the Park: The Festival of the Horse International CCI**/* 3-Day Event.

August: Florida Horse Park Polo Club Forms.

December: Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company and OBS Feed make a generous donation to the Park and are granted naming rights to the All-Weather Arena.

 

2007

January-March: Florida Horse Park hosts for the first time the CFCC Equine Studies Class in Event Management.

February 17-19: Florida Horse Park hosts largest Horse Trials ever in the Southeast Region (509 entries).

March: The Equestrian Center at Horse Creek Entry Level Cross Country Course, donated by Mrs. Parker J. Collier is completed.

August 10: Florida Horse Park office gets its first flushing toilet. The office staff are no longer required to use port-a-potties.

August 21: Representatives from the Florida Horse Park meet with Governor Crist to discuss the park. September Park is awarded a CCI**/* International Event to be held in conjunction with the Ocala Fall Horse Trials.

 

2008

January: Whitfield M. Palmer, Jr. is elected as interim Chairman of the Park. Craig G. Bachrodt takes over as Chair for the second half of the year.

August: Park applies for specialty license plate through the Department of Motor Vehicles. Sen. Carey Baker and Rep. Kurt Kelley agree to sponsor the legislation during the 2009 Legislative Session.

October: State of Florida Office of Tourism, Trade & Economic Development awards Park a grant of up to $1 million dollars to fund basic infrastructure.

November: IDEO, a global design consultancy out of California, begins a project to hone the strategic vision for the Park and to envision the horse park of the future.

 

2009

January: Connie Duff Wise, State Farm Agent in The Villages, Florida, is elected as Chairman of Florida Agriculture Center & Horse Park Authority. 

January: Todd Gralla Equestrian Architects are hired to create the Park's site plan.

 

2013

May: Florida Horse Park receives $2 million in state budget for development of the park including a large-scale covered arena.

 

2014

Lonny Powell, Vice President and CEO of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ & Owners’ Association, is named as Chairman of Florida Agriculture Center & Horse Park Authority.

 

2015

Outdoor covered arena completed – larger than the UF football field undercover.

June 23: Five new stabling facilities in the works. The first barn is almost complete. Each will contain thirty-two 12' X 12' stalls with a 10-foot overhang on the outside and a 14-foot center aisle. It will give the park the ability to stable 160 more animals for a total of 288. In addition to creature comforts, 30 additional pull-through RV spaces will enable competitors more access to electric and water hookups.