EPICENTER’S KENTUCKY ROOTS SHADE GREEN RATHER THAN BLUE

When one thinks of the epicenter of Thoroughbred horse breeding in the United States, the Bluegrass region around Lexington, Kentucky, naturally comes to mind.  It is a storied place of farms owned by sheiks, business magnets, and old-line Kentucky families that have miles of plank and stone fencing and distinctive barns.

But Epicenter, the favorite to win the 2022 Travers Stakes, was foaled and raised 160 miles away on a nondescript 1,000-acre southern Kentucky family farm named Westwind Farms, located on Three Springs Road just outside the college town of Bowling Green. 300 acres are devoted to raising horses and 700 acres are leased for farming.

The Thoroughbred operation at Westwind Farms was started about 1965 by the late Jewell R. Bettersworth Sr., who bred and raised Hall of Fame My Juliet.  Federal Hill, who finished fifth in the star-studded 1957 Kentucky Derby, stood at Westwind Farms in its early days.

Before Bettersworth began his Thoroughbred operation, he raised and exhibited American Saddlebreds. He owned a Cadillac dealership in downtown Bowling Green and drove an Eldorado to horse shows, where he rode his 5-gaited gelding Fleetwood to many wins on the Kentucky County Fair Circuit.  (His son “Jay” Bettersworth tragically lost his life in 1979 after an accident involving a Thoroughbred yearling.) 

Westwind Farms today is run by Jewell Bettersworth’s grandsons—Brent, Kevin, and Mike Harris—and Mike’s sons Justin and Taylor.  According to various articles about the Westwind operation, the farm has 17 or 18 foals annually, all from their mares bred to Lexington-based stallions. The Harrises don’t spend over $40,000 or $50,000 on a stud fee.  Epicenter was the result of a $15,000 breeding of Silent Candy (by Candy Ride) to Not This Time.  He brought $260,000 at the Keeneland sale as a yearling.

The Harrises don’t pamper their horses: they are left outdoors in the winter with run-in sheds, brought in only to feed and handle.  No hot-house plants for this working farm manned by five people.

When Epicenter runs in the Travers, the surroundings at historic Saratoga Race Course will be about as different as they could be from the secluded farm near Bowling Green where he was born and grew up.

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