by Victoria M. Howard
I don’t quite know where to begin with Elizabeth Caldwell. Her pedigree and success in the sport transcends any I have had the pleasure to write about.
A third generation horsewoman, Caldwell was born in the Bluegrass State. Her grandparents, Fredrick and Frances Dodge Van Lennep, owned the legendary Castleton Farms in Kentucky, home of many storied champions. The Van Lenneps also inaugurated Pompano Park Racetrack, the initial Winter Capital of Harness Racing in the early 1960s.
“When I was little I wanted to be like my mother. I watched her practicing riding show horses, so at the age of 5 or 6, I started riding. My mother got me lessons with Jimmy Robertson, probably to keep me busy while she was riding. That’s when I first got the horse bug and still have it,” said Caldwell.
She began competing in the American Saddlebred discipline at age 10. Due to her busy schedule, she no longer competes, but still pleasure rides when time allows.
Her mother, Fredericka V. Caldwell is the owner of Cane Run Farm located in Georgetown, KY. Elizabeth and her brother, Danny, run the 210-acre farm named for the creek that runs through the property.
Cane Run Farm became a standardbred nursery in 1982 with a few fillies fresh off the racetrack. The first group of race fillies included Guiding Beam, Heather’s Feather, plus what proved to be the foundation mare,Nan Hanover, dam of legendaryNan’s Catch, she of course dam of the international star Moni Maker.
“Nan’s Catch is probably my all time favorite. We owe her a lot for she helped put our farm on the map as breeders. I loved watching her race as a kid,” Caldwell said.
“Currently about 70 horses reside on the farm. (Mares, foals, yearlings, layups and retirees) Some are our own and we also board for clients. I own three horses and my mother owns 20 broodmares (18 standardbreds and two thoroughbreds). Several are in partnership with Bluestone Farms.
“The numbers will fluctuate in the next couple of weeks as several of our mares and some client mares being bred in New Jersey will arrive for the Kentucky residency program. We expect about 17 to ship down and then several that have already been here will leave in the fall for Pennsylvania for their residency program.
“My job is to help plan the matings for the mares, the raising/care of their foals and prep the yearlings for public auction. The ones we own in partnership with Mitchel Skolnick, managing partner of Bluestone Farms, we will go over the matings together, then mother approves everything when we have the list ready.
“The yearlings sell in our Lexington Selected consignment. Sometimes we will retain a filly to carry on the families that have done well for us.
“I helped plan the mating for Danae to Muscle Hill, resulting in Deyrolle (Propulsion). We originally bought her dam Deanella Hanover, in the Castleton dispersal and Danae was the third foal we sold out of her as a yearling for $15,000 to George Teague in Lexington.
“Danae, of course, sold the second “million dollar yearling” in Damien, Propulsion’s full brother at Lexington Selected last year, which I think justifies our buying her back for breeding purposes.
“When Danae finished racing I heard the partners were going to sell her and I wanted to have her in our broodmare band. I hadn’t been running the farm too long and really had to convince my mother on this investment.
“I told mom it isn’t every day you get the chance to buy an Oaks winner that she bred (Nan’s Catch, Moni Maker, and Danae).
“We ended up purchasing Danae at the Tattersalls January Mixed Sale. I couldn’t be there so I asked Mitchel to take a look and please bid on her for me. She didn’t sell, but we went to them afterwards and bought her for $240,000.
“My mother wasn’t too thrilled with how much I spent and Mitchel said he would love to own part of her, so that is how we got to be partners with Bluestone Farms and ended up with Danae.
“Danae’s first two foals, D’orsay and Déjà vu Too, didn’t sell as much as we hoped but went on to be a world champion and a stakes winner, respectively.
“Her third foal was a colt named Propulsion. (Original name was Deyrolle. His new owners changed it to Propulsion). He was sent to the Lexington Selected Sale and was purchased by agent Myron Bell for a group of owners. Top trainer Tony Alagna would break and train him. After a short, but respectable career in the United States he was sent to the Tattersalls Mixed Sale and sold as a 4-year-old to trainer Daniel Redén. Propulsion was shipped to Sweden where he too became a superstar and was named Swedish Horse of the Year for 2019. Propulsion attained Elitlopp status for five consecutive years before finally winning it this past May 31.
“Although I have been lucky enough to travel to Sweden and France several times to watch Propulsion race, because of COVID-19 I was unable to go, so watched him from home and cheered him on. It was exciting to see how well he raced in both heats after a long lay off. He has an amazing kick when he sprints home – it’s like he has another gear.”
Presently, Elizabeth has no broodmares of her own for she retired Catch A Train, co-owned with her mother, a couple of years ago.
“Although I don’t currently have broodmares of my own, I treat all the horses here like they’re mine. We’ve been blessed to have had many very nice horses over the years and I try to help keep the farm name going.”