Keeneland Magazine

WINTER 2014

Keeneland, Investing in Racing's Future since 1936.

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KEENELAND.COM K WINTER 2014 35 Opposite, the Elkhorn Creek adds to the natural beauty of Margaux Farm. Above, an all-weather surface on the gallops will allow horses to train throughout the winter. As far as human creature comforts, the Hills also this year purchased the Swanns Nest Inn bed & breakfast just a couple of furlongs from Keeneland Race Course. They are presently refurbishing it and rebranding it the Eighth Pole Inn, which will reopen for business when Keeneland's spring meet rolls around in April 2015. A native of Toronto, Jim Hill studied accounting and en- gineering in school, and he moved with his bride to Calgary when they were in their 20s. There, he helped grow Pason, a global provider of specialized data management systems for drilling rigs, from a $50,000 enterprise into a public compa- ny worth $2.8 billion. Now 64, Hill relinquished his position as CEO responsible for the day-to-day workings of the com- pany and remains as chairman, allowing him the time to delve into his love of racing Thoroughbreds. "The horse industry is ideal for us because there are a lot of older people in it," he said. "Here, you're a player. Any- where else you're just an old businessman." The Hills, who have two adult sons, also have a passion for art and own a gallery in Calgary under the banner Esker Foun- dation. The art gallery space is in a building that has art-re- lated tenants who help fnance the exhibits. The Hills have hosted shows by local artists and by artists from throughout Canada, and they plan to open the space to artists worldwide. Jim Hill, in fact, entered the world of horses because of art. At a gallery opening 10 years ago he chatted up Leon- ard Zenith, a Thoroughbred owner whose wife owned the gallery. Zenith subsequently sent Hill a copy of Woodford County horseman Jim Squires' book Horse of a Different Color. Hill loved the work, and he and Susan bought into four year- lings Zenith had purchased at Keeneland. One, Storm Caller, could run a little and won four races. Storm Caller, who is spending his retirement years at the Hills' farm in Calgary, got the couple hooked on the sport. "He was our avenue into racing," Hill noted. "He was the one horse that got us into it. I'm very fortunate Sue enjoys it as much as I do, making it easy to stay with it." Soon the Hills were coming to the Keeneland Septem- ber yearling sale to purchase their own runners. Buying in the middle of the market, the Hills typically spend between $100,000 and $200,000 for yearlings, with a smattering of weanlings and 2-year-olds thrown in. Last season, buying at Keeneland and at European sales, they purchased 28 head, their highest seasonal number to date. The horses are split among trainers Reade Baker, Brian Lynch, and George Weaver. Whenever possible, the Hills point runners toward the Keeneland meetings in April and October. Their Grand Arch ran sec- ond to two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan in Keeneland's frst $1 million race, the Shadwell Turf Mile, in October. "We really enjoy coming here," said Hill. "Calgary has six or seven months of winter every year, so we make sure to come in the fall and then again around the beginning of April. The weather is a part of it, but so is the horse history and the beautiful terrain. The Bluegrass area is drop-dead gorgeous, we think. It's also an almost precise four-season climate. We've gotten to really like a lot of the people around here, and it's become a fun place to come to." The Hills are affording others a fun experience in Lexington through the Eighth Pole Inn, which is located on Cygnet Farm. In 2005 the Hills frst came to town to see the yearlings they had bought into with Ze- nith but were less than enamored with their stay at a downtown hotel. They found out about the bed & breakfast, stayed there on their next visit, and loved the place. Nine years later, when owner Rosalie Swann

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