Farm Management of WinStar Farm
Natanya Nieman grew up in Lexington. She rode dressage and event horses, worked at thoroughbred sales, and worked on Thoroughbred and Standardbred farms throughout college. In 1994, she graduated from the University of Kentucky with a Bachelor's degree in Agriculture Biotechnology. After college, she attended veterinary school at The Ohio State University and graduated in 1998. By 1999, Natanya had completed an internship at Peterson and Smith Equine Hospital in Ocala, Florida. She then worked at Woodford Veterinary Clinic from 1999-2002. Natanya has been with WinStar for 10 years now. She is married to Mike McMahon from Saratoga Springs, NY. WinStar-bred Kentucky Derby Champion Funny Cide was born on his father's McMahon Thoroughbred Farm in New York.
Larry grew up in Lexington and attended Lexington Catholic High School. Having always been interested in Keeneland and the thoroughbred business, Larry entered the business and started a sales agency in 1997.
In 1998, Larry began work for Prestonwood Farm as Assistant Manager and remained in the position when WinStar purchased the farm. In 2001, Larry was named Stallion Manager for WinStar Farm. Larry's dedication shows in everything he does. "Each stallion has his own, distinct personality," says Larry. "Just like people, horses respond differently. It's important to get to know each stallion and work with them as individuals."
Born and raised in Miami, Florida, Andres was not the stereotypical horseman. Being from a big city, his exposure to horses was rather limited. He developed a relationship with horses at a young age when he would go to his family´s Paso Fino ranch in Colombia during summer vacation. This is where his interest in horses took root.
After graduating from Miami Coral Park Sr. High in 2005, Andres attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, just 30 miles north of Ocala. He studied equine sciences with an emphasis on reproductive physiology and worked at the University´s Horse Research Center in Ocala. After watching a replay of Secretariat´s 1973 Belmont victory, Andres became certain that the Thoroughbred industry was where he belonged.
Andres completed an internship at the Hancock´s historical Claiborne Farm. During the internship, Andres worked with the veterinary staff, broodmares and stallions. Once he graduated, he was hired to work with yearlings for sales prep. Mr. Hancock thought it would be a good idea for Andres to gain some track experience, so he sent him to work for Todd Pletcher. While with Todd Pletcher, Andres was a hot walker and then a foreman in South Florida and Saratoga. During his time with Todd Pletcher Racing, Andres was privileged enough to work with a world class staff and top tier racehorses before being offered his current position at WinStar Farm as Assistant Stallion Manager.
A third generation horseman, Donnie Preston was born and raised in Central Kentucky where he graduated from Woodford County High School and worked part-time at Airdrie Stud in Versailles. After attending Anderson University on a track scholarship, Donnie realized his real interest was working with horses. He returned to Airdrie Stud full-time in 1988 and remained there until 2002 when he was hired by WinStar.
When asked about the job, Donnie replied, "Being here is a great experience, and getting to work with the quality of horse, state-of-the-art technology, and experienced horsemen at WinStar has been the opportunity of a lifetime."
In 1983 a determined girl left Ohio to follow her passion for horses in Kentucky. Debbie began at Donamire Farm before leaving to gain valuable experience working on the track at Keeneland and then Gulfstream Park. Upon deciding to begin a family, she returned to Kentucky where she began a job at Needham/Betz Thoroughbreds. There she worked her way up to Farm Manager and remained there for 13 years while raising 4 children and 2 stepchildren. While at Needham/Betz, Mining My Own, the dam of Mine That Bird, was foaled in her care.
Debbie brings to the WinStar team over 30 years of experience, having worked in management on several of Central Kentucky’s leading Thoroughbred farms. Her most recent position was Farm Manager at Pauls Mill.
Debbie is extremely excited and honored to be joining a team of such accomplished horsemen and looks forward to her future at WinStar.
Jeff is originally from Southern Illinois, but he claims St. Louis, Missouri as his hometown. Growing up he was exposed to agriculture through his Uncle’s family farm. Jeff started working with horses at Boy Scout camp when he was 12 and later exchanged labor for free riding lessons at a local Arabian horse farm.
Jeff went to college at Truman State University and studied Agriculture, specializing in Animal Science. He met his wife Nickie in college and she is the one who got him interested in the thoroughbred breeding industry. After graduating in 2002, Jeff relocated to Central Kentucky and immediately started working on Thoroughbred breeding farms.
Starting as a groom and working his way up, Jeff worked at Crestwood and Margaux Farms before being hired as the Assistant Broodmare Manager at Overbrook Farm in 2004. After 1 year at Overbrook he was promoted to Broodmare Manager and retained that position until the farm closed in 2008. After Overbrook closed Jeff moved to Starwood Farm as their Farm Manager, after 4 years at Starwood Jeff accepted the Broodmare Manager position at WinStar Farm.
Jeff lives on WinStar with his wife and 2 sons, Elijah and Gabriel. He is excited about the opportunity, and the challenges that come with managing a large herd of broodmares, and he is happy to be a part of the team at WinStar Farm.
Jimmy is currently a resident of Woodford County where he has lived all of his life. He came to WinStar in December 2002. His father worked with horses his entire life, therefore, he decided to follow in his footsteps. He has had the chance to work at many great and well-known farms such as Ashford Stud and Lane’s End Farm. Jimmy has done a little bit of everything in this industry from cleaning stalls to grooming horses. Jimmy is currently the Assistant Broodmare Manager here at WinStar Farm.
Alissa was born in Michigan but raised in Salem, Indiana. A lifelong horseperson, she grew up around Thoroughbreds at Ledgerwood Farms, her family’s farm, as well as working through college at smaller farms nearby. She has mainly worked with mares and foals, citing the first time she witnessed a foaling as the moment that sparked her passion.
Alissa graduated from Indiana University Southeast studying Spanish in 2010, then the University of Louisville in 2012, receiving a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Equine Business Administration. After school Alissa moved to Kentucky to take the position of Foaling Manager at Crestwood Farm where she gained valuable experience in many areas of the industry prior to coming to Winstar.
Assistant Broodmare Manager
John brings 20 years of experience in the thoroughbred industry to WinStar Farm. He worked for Gainsborough Farm for 13 years, working in all areas from broodmares to foaling. As the stallion barn foreman, he had the privilege of taking care of Hansel, Shadeed, Quiet American, and Elusive Quality. John has also worked with the stallions at Adena Springs before the farm moved to Paris, KY. Most recently, John was the manager of Frankfort Park Farm overseeing the farm and sales operation. Currently, John resides in Lawrenceburg with his wife Emily and two sons, Dalton and Lucas.
Richard brings 32 years of international experience in the Thoroughbred industry to WinStar. Born in England, he worked for Toby Balding and then in France for J. Pease. Later, he was invited to the U.S. by Cot Campbell of Dogwood Stables and assisted in breaking their yearlings. In addition, Richard worked for Steve DiMauro for many years in New York, California and Florida.
He took out his trainer's license in 1997, training privately for Art Preston's LOR Stables and winning many stakes from a European-styled training center in Texas. Richard started with WinStar in January 2002 and is primarily responsible for the preparation and rehabilitation of the WinStar racehorses.
Heather, originally from Western New York, grew up around show horses, which is where she developed her passion for horses. Heather was awarded a riding scholarship to Midway College and went on to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management with a concentration in Equine Management. During that time she broke yearlings and galloped racehorses for Jonabell, Saxony, Walmac International, Brookside, and Pin Oak Farms, which gave her the opportunity to move up as an Assistant Trainer for Evergreen Farms.
Heather was also the Barn Manager and Instructor for the North American Racing Academy for five years before she went on to work with Todd Pletcher. In 2010, she became Michelle Nihei’s Assistant Trainer at Keeneland and Belmont Park before starting at WinStar in 2012. Collectively, Heather brings over 20 years of experience in the Thoroughbred industry to WinStar.
Lanie was born and raised in the Texas Hill Country, where her family has a small breeding operation with racing Quarter Horses. She attended Texas A&M University. While still in school, a professor introduced her to central Kentucky on a school trip. This led to an internship at KESMARC Kentucky in Versailles. After graduating in 2005 with a Bachelor's degree in Animal Science, Lanie made the move to Lexington. She returned to KESMARC Kentucky, working there for eight years. She then briefly managed a small farm in Midway before being hired by Winstar.
Destin is a native of Norman, Oklahoma. From an early age his dream was to train Thoroughbreds in Kentucky. He spent his youth riding and showing horses in both English and Western disciplines. He began working with racehorses at the age of sixteen, galloping and breaking babies. Soon after Destin began working part-time, and eventually full-time for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas in 2008.
While attending college he continued to pursue his dream in the thoroughbred industry while working as an exercise rider and assistant trainer to trainer Tom Drury, Jr. In 2012 he graduated from the University of Louisville with a Bachelor of Science in Equine Business Administration, with a minor in Management. Destin is excited about the opportunity to continue expanding his knowledge base at a world class operation.
Karen Bublitz grew up in Waukesha, Wisconsin where she began taking riding lessons at the age of seven. She enjoyed showing English, dressage and had a particular love of jumping.
Karen attended the University of Platteville and graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science. She was then accepted into the Kentucky Equine Management Internship, with Shawhan Place as her host farm. During her internship she participated in the spring broodmare and foaling season and the fall yearling and breaking season. After finishing her internship at KEMI, Karen was offered the opportunity to work with two-year-olds in training. She spent a season working for Niall Brennan in Ocala, Florida working at two-year-old sales, ponying, and learning to gallop. She then returned to Kentucky and accepted a position as a yearling manager at Shawhan Place.
Karen is excited about her most recent position with WinStar Farm and feels she has an amazing opportunity to expand her knowledge of the thoroughbred industry.
Gerry grew up helping work the family farm in Shelbyville, Ky. The farm raised cattle, tobacco, and hay crops. He was involved in FFA and 4H during his youth. The past 20 years, he and his family have owned and operated a large plant nursery and garden center in eastern Jefferson County. He has also owned racehorses for the past 15 years and has a great passion for the sport. He is looking forward to putting his farm knowledge and passion together here at WinStar. He and Lisa have a grown son and daughter.
Tony was born and raised in Eastern KY, becoming involved with the Future Farmers of America at a young age. He displayed his love of farming in his previous jobs as a herdsman for a large dairy farm in Virginia and at the Miller Thoroughbred Farm in Woodford County. Tony brought his vast farming knowledge to WinStar Farm in 2003 as Pasture Foreman. In 2013, Tony was promoted to Assistant Maintenance Manager. Tony lives on the farm with his wife Connie.
Doug was born and raised in Shelbyville, Kentucky on his family’s dairy farm. He spent his youth on the farm and working for local tobacco farmers. Doug spent the first 20 years of his adult life in automotive factories, taking on various roles in production, maintenance, and supervision. The last seven years Doug has worked in property management and maintenance for a commercial warehousing, residential and land leasing company. Doug and his wife Shelia have two children and enjoy spending time with their granddaughter in Shelbyville.