Life-long horse lover Kelly Lawniczak is a small breeder and owner whose career was immersed in the racehorse industry before she became personally involved herself.

“I’ve been involved with horses since the age of nine, when my Mom finally gave in and signed me up for riding lessons at the local hunter/jumper barn. Many of the lesson horses I rode were off-track Thoroughbreds and that’s when I originally fell in love with the breed. But it wasn’t until my family and I relocated from Michigan to Ocala that I had the opportunity to get involved in the racehorse business,” Lawniczak said. 

In the spring of 2015, Lawniczak took a job at Buena Vista Farm as the office manager. The farm is owned by Dr. Carolin Von Rosenberg DVM., who specializes in equine reproduction. 

“She is also a successful Thoroughbred breeder and racehorse owner. It’s there that I got a close-up look at the racehorse business—from the breeding shed to the sales ring and then the racetrack.”

Because of her bookkeeping position at Buena Vista Farm, Lawniczak already knew the financial commitment it took to care for a broodmare and her foal and to get a young horse to the sales ring or the track. 

“My friend, Joan Dilibero, asked if my husband and I wanted to share a mare with a client of hers who was retiring a mare off the track. But we knew what we were getting into. Thankfully, we are able to reduce costs by keeping our mares at home and doing most of the work ourselves. Our first mare, Ameerah B, was bred to Bucchero. She wasn’t the easiest mare to handle and we all joked what that ‘B’ stood for,” Lawniczak said.

However, Lawniczak was concerned it may be difficult for Ameerah B to foal at home, so she sent her to veterinarian and fellow FTBOA member, Dr. Tiffany Atteberry. 

“Unfortunately, our worst fears were realized when [Ameerah B] rejected the foal. 

“Thankfully, Dr. Atteberry’s quick response to the situation saved our foal with the help of a wonderful nurse mare named Pica. We now have a beautiful yearling colt that we plan to send to training in the fall. He will be our first racehorse and we are very excited to see what he’ll do at the track.”

In addition to breeding, Lawniczak has tried her hand at pin-hooking. 

“Joan Dilibero was behind this venture too. With our partner, we bought two weanlings out of the Keeneland November Sale. She picked a beautiful filly by War of Will and I got a lovely chestnut filly by Complexity. The plan was to sell them as yearlings and make a little money,” Lawniczak said.

Unfortunately, that plan fell by the wayside at last year’s OBS October yearling sale when both fillies failed to meet their reserve.

“So, it was on to plan B. Thankfully, Joan is the trainer at Vegso Racing Stable and we sent both fillies there to be started. Trying to keep costs down, I was their groom and was at the training center nearly every morning. I didn’t want to admit it to my husband since the filly was a ‘business’ venture, but I was living the dream, and at the same time, learning another part of the racing business.

“Our filly had some speed and loved to train, so we considered keeping her to race. However, without partners to share in the cost, it just wasn’t in the cards.”

Fortunately, Lawniczak knew one of the best 2-year-old consignors in the business, Tom McCrocklin, who agreed to consign their filly at the recent OBS June Sale and she sold as Hip 569

“He did a great job prepping her and she breezed a fast quarter in [:20.80], which was the co-fastest time for that day. Being new to the business, it was cool to see a horse you own make the Thoroughbred Daily News.”

Of course, this news came with mixed emotions for Lawniczak, as she once again considered pulling her from the sale and sending her to the track. 

“Poor Tom had to put up with me as I wavered up to the morning of the sale. But in the end, we made the right decision and let her go through the ring. She sold well and we made our first profit.” 

Luckily for Lawniczak, her filly ended up going to a Mazel Stable Partners LLC, who were kind enough to offer them the option to keep a piece of filly’s ownership.

Return to the July 2 issue of Wire to Wire