Sebastian Angelillo Makes History in Uruguay

By | News, Testimonials

by Sarah E. Coleman

Montevideo, Uruguay is a long way from Lexington, KY—over 5,300 miles away, to be more precise. Additionally, the entire population of Uruguay is only 3.4 million people—less than the population of Kentucky, which is 4.5 million.

Traveling that far and into a country so large is daunting for even the most self-assured person; but it was but one small step on Sebastian Angelillo’s journey in the Thoroughbred industry. Sebastian arrived in Kentucky in 2011 to be a part of the KEMI program.

A Winding Road to the Bluegrass

Sebastian is no stranger to horses; his family used to own and race Thoroughbreds from his Haras Sureño farm when Sebastian was growing up. “I’ve liked horses since I was a kid,” Sebastian says. “I used to go to Maronas racetrack with my family and friends.” These experiences at the racetrack and with his father’s horses ignited in Sebastian a passion for the Thoroughbred industry.

Sebastian notes that in Uruguay, if one wanted to be involved in the Thoroughbred industry that their options are quite limited. “You could go to vet school, be a trainer or be a farrier—that’s about it,” he explained.  He completed a training course at San Isidro in Argentina and a few years of vet school until he decided that the business side of the industry was more in line with what he wanted to accomplish with his career.  “I always wanted to be in a place where I could learn from the best in the industry—and that’s what I did [by coming to Kentucky].”

Though Sebastian was emotional when he received the acceptance email from the KEMI program, he knew that heading to the States and being in the KEMI program would give him the best experiences in the industry—even if it meant leaving behind friends, family and his home. “The KEMI program was my first experience in a foreign country and it opened so many doors to me,” Sebastian reminisces.

Once settled in the KEMI program, the hands-on work quickly became Sebastian’s favorite. “That’s where I believe you get a real view and learn how to do things,” he explained. Sebastian was placed at Three Chimneys Farm during his time at KEMI. “I worked for Sandy Hatfield, the best guide ever,” he said.

Sebastian worked hard during his time at KEMI and his work ethic didn’t go unnoticed; he won the Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers Club (KTFMC) Management Award, recognizing him for his hard work, professionalism and dedication to the industry. With the award, Sebastian was awarded the opportunity to shadow Thoroughbred industry professionals for one week at the conclusion of his KEMI internship. Sebastian shadowed Donato Lanni, Greg Fox, Bradley Purcell, Dan Rosenburg, Eoin Hardy, Tony Cissell, Tom Evans, Bill Witman, Tom Thornbury and Fabricio Buffolo.

All Over the Map

After graduation from KEMI, Sebastian went to Taylor Made farm and worked in the yearling division, where he had the opportunity to go to all the major yearling sales in Kentucky and Saratoga, as well as to the breeding stock sales in November. In 2012, Sebastian took part in the Irish National Stud breeding program internship. The goal of the Irish National Stud course is to offer students hands-on, practical training in every aspect of Thoroughbred breeding. While in Ireland, Sebastian also completed a yearling sales prep program at Staffordstown Stud and worked the major yearling sales in both Ireland and England.

After that, Sebastian headed to the Southern Hemisphere, where he worked at Widden Stud and Chatsworth Park in New South Wales, Australia. “I worked for a full year with mares, foals, weanlings, yearlings and stallions, and I also worked all the major sales there,” he said.

In June of 2014, Sebastian returned to Taylor Made Farm in Nicholasville, KY, to help in the yearling division; he also again assisted in the Saratoga and Kentucky yearling sales. Then, in September, Sebastian moved to Ocala, FL, and worked at Eddie Woods Training Centre to gain experience in the 2-year-old pinhooking business. He stayed in Florida for nine months: The horses were bought as yearlings and sold as 2-year-olds in the major sales.

Making his Mark

In September 2015, Sebastian began working on a South American venture under the Taylor Made brand, building and developing relationships between Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and the U.S.

A true go-getter in every sense of the word, Sebastian was the perfect partner for Taylor Made when they sought to expand their relationships in South America. Sebastian was the first Uruguayan ever to complete the Irish National Stud’s breeding course, which has hosted students from Argentina, Brazil, the United States, France, England, China, New Zealand, Jamaica, Mexico and elsewhere. Sebastian feels that what he learned from the course was integral to the negotiations for California Chrome’s shuttling to Chile to stand at stud.

Sebastian was instrumental in striking the three-year agreement for Chrome to stand at Haras Sumaya, near Santiago, Chile. There, the stallion covered 278 mares in his first two seasons and saw multiple first weanlings sell for six figures in 2018.

So what’s next on his agenda? “I’m trying to develop a sales company here in Uruguay,” Sebastian explains. “I will make the first-ever yearling selected sale in Uruguay on June 13.” Sebastian brought Tom Thornbury to Uruguay to inspect the young horses for the selection process.

Though the history of Thoroughbred breeding is rich and deep in South America, Sebastian has his sights set on bettering the industry as a whole. With his work ethic and successful track record, there’s no doubt Sebastian will leave a lasting mark on the Thoroughbred industry on multiple continents.

2010 KEMI Grad Wins Big at the 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover

By | News, Uncategorized

by Sarah E. Coleman

Amber (Van Wiebe) Jacobson, a 2010 KEMI grad, rode Silence is Awesome (“Awesome”)to the win in the Ranch Work discipline, sponsored by MidAtlantic Horse Rescue at the $100,000 Thoroughbred Makeover, presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America. In addition to winning the Ranch Work discipline, Amber and Awesome also finished ninth out of 54 in the Competitive Trail division, sponsored by Florida Thoroughbred Retirement and Adoptive Care (FL TRAC).

Amber travelled to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington from her home base in Longview in Alberta, Canada, where she owner Running Fawcett Thoroughbreds Ltd. Amber is a Thoroughbred owner, breeder, colt-starter and boarding facility owner.

Originally from Calgary, Amber was not unfamiliar with the Bluegrass, having taken part in the KEMI breeding season session in 2010. While in Kentucky with KEMI, Amber was placed at Margaux Farm, where she learned a massive amount about Thoroughbreds. “I learned more with KEMI in 6 months than I could [have learned] back home in 15 years,” Amber says. “The [access to the] amount of horses, professionals and experience you get is unmatched anywhere else.”

“I Knew I Had The Horse …”

A passionate horsewoman, Amber didn’t ride until she was 24. “The Makeover was really my push to learn more disciplines and push my comfort zone,” she said. And what made her decide to give the Makeover a try? “I knew I had the horse,” she explains. Awesome, (by Silent Name out of Just Awesome by Siphon) was bred, raised and raced by Amber.

Amber bought Just Awesome at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale when she was in foal to Silence is Awesome.  Awesome, a 4-year-old, 15.1-hh bay mare, had nine starts and one win, and earned $4,100 in her racing career before retiring. “She was claimed, but I bought her back after the racing season was completed. I just knew there was something special about this horse—she truly is a fighter.”

Though Makeover competitors could begin riding their horses on December 1 of 2018, Amber didn’t put Awesome into work until January of 2019. “She was a harder keeper that just needed some additional downtime,” she explains of the delay. “I don’t think we really focused [on a specific discipline] until March, when I sought additional help from Kent Williamson, a working cow horse professional.”

Amber knew she wanted to compete in the Ranch Work as it’s something she’s slowly gotten into while living in ranch country. For a second discipline, she pondered running barrels, but eventually set her sights on Competitive Trail as she felt it complimented Ranch Work the best. “With only nine months of training, I think it was the better choice!” she says.

Once her discipline decisions were made, Amber shifted from discipline-specific preparation to pure foundation preparation, focusing on putting quality basics on Awesome. “Kent [Williamson] taught me what basics I was lacking,” she explains of the shift in focus. “Once I, as well as Awesome, had the foundation down, we started the cow work and really having fun!”

A Versatile Mare

Awesome has shown more versatility than any horse Amber has ever restarted. Before coming to the Makeover, the duo, with just 7 months of training, competed in the Alberta Ranch Horse Versatility Association (ARHVA) competitions as well as at the Cochrane Lions Ranch Rodeo, where they were overall champion in Ranch Rodeo, winning Sorting, Penning and Doctoring as a team. The ARHVA competitions include ranch trail, ranch ride, reining, conformation, cutting and cow work; Amber and Awesome finished second overall and won the Ranch Ride, Ranch Reining and Cow Work.

So, what makes Awesome so broke? She has a very strong horsemanship foundation, Amber explains, which is what makes her so versatile. “She’s extremely cowy and is the most broke horse of all of our family horses,” she says, thanks in part to the training Amber and Awesome received from Kent.

More than anything though, Amber credits the bond created between rider and horse throughout the Makeover process as the reason the mare is so broke—and trusting. “It was unbelievable. It’s something I will cherish forever,” she says.

So what’s up next for the indominable duo? Awesome if for sale, but Amber is quick to point out that she’ll cry if the mare sells, not if she doesn’t! “I plan to continue to train and compete in the Alberta Reach Horse Versatility as well as at ranch rodeos. I also hope to try some barrels and sortings—and one day working cow horse!”

A KEMI Connection

Did KEMI prepare Amber for a competition like the Makeover? “It definitely did!” Amber says. KEMI taught me “the overall care required of a horse–let alone a Thoroughbred! The feeding, grooming, showing and handling I learned [thru KEMI}–it all helped, and still does, with every horse I have. The Makeover was an opportunity of a lifetime. Just like KEMI!”

KEMI Receives TCA Grant

By | News

Kentucky Equine Management Internship (KEMI) has been awarded a grant from Thoroughbred Charities of America (TCA).  KEMI would like to thank TCA and all of the farms who designated KEMI as the beneficiary in the TCA Stallion Season Auction.  TCA’s mission is to provide a better life for Thoroughbreds, both during and after their racing careers, by supporting qualified repurposing and retirement organizations and by helping the people who care for them.  To find out more about TCA and their mission please visit  Thank you, TCA, for your continued support of the KEMI program and our mission to help young professionals get a leg up in the Thoroughbred industry!

KEMI Welcomes New Interns for Fall 2019

By | News, Uncategorized

The Kentucky Equine Management Internship (KEMI) Program is pleased to welcome nineteen new interns for the Fall of 2019 session.

BALES, Bailey – University of Missouri- Columbia
BRANDON, Cristina – Colorado State University
BREMER, Brittney – Virginia Tech
CHRISTENSEN, Tanzynn – Southern Utah University
CHRISTOPHERSON, Kalley – University of Wisconsin-River Falls
DAMP, Angelica – University of Nebraska
FUZZELL, Casady – Oklahoma State University
HRYNDA, Madison – West Virginia University
JENKINS, Sadie – Oklahoma State University
LEVKULIC, Samantha – Cornell University
MARQUEZ, Henrique – Universidade Positivo-BRAZIL
MCNAB, Sydney – Oregon State University
PARRISH, Rachel – West Virginia University
RYDOSZ, Brynna – Louisiana State University
SIFFERT, Emily – University of Findlay
TERRELL, Skylar – Stephen F. Austin State University
VANSLANDER, Shelby – Oregon State University
WADDLE , Kayli – West Texas A&M University
WILLIAMS, Nathan – University of Missouri-Columbia

Welcome interns!

Spring 2019 KEMI Graduates

By | News, Uncategorized

Congratulations to our Spring of 2019 Kentucky Equine Management Internship (KEMI) graduates!

Brandi Bahr – University of Wisconsin, Platteville – Shawhan Place
Bailey Bales – University of Missouri – Heaven Trees Farm
Cristina Brandon – Colorado State University – Mallory Farm
Alicia Butsch – Washington State University – Lane’s End/Oaktree Division
Lauren Carter – University of Maryland – Darby Dan Farm
Mara Castro – Lexington, Kentucky – Runnymeade Farm
Rebecca Cedar – New Mexico State University – Shawnee Farm
Chloe Crowder – Judson College – Shadwell Farm
Gwen Gates – Illinois State University – Monticule Farm
Camryn Green – Virginia Tech University – Shawnee Farm
Jennifer Hambleton – Washington State University – Lane’s End Farm
Kathryn Heath – Texas A&M University – Silver Springs Farm
Sadie Jenkins – Oklahoma State University – Margaux Farm
Veronica Jones – California State University, Fresno – Brookdale Farm
Ambrielle Kaufmann – Louisiana Tech University – Lane’s End Farm
Jessica Kelly – Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo – Mill Ridge Farm
Briana Lambert – Colorado State University – WinStar Farm
Allyson Lammers – Colorado State University – Ashford Stud
Madison Maneri – University of Connecticut – Darby Dan Farm
Caitlin Maus – University of Missouri – Trackside Farm
Mikaela Moore – University of Wyoming – Indian Creek Farm
Kaitlyn Murphy – Pennsylvania State University – Silver Springs Farm
Annie Perez – Texas A&M University – Denali Stud
Brianna Renner – Oregon State University – Trackside Farm
Diondrea Richardson – Tuskegee University – Pin Oak Stud
Abigail Rigsby – Middle Tennessee State University – Crestwood Farm
Kristina Schroeder – University of Minnesota, Crookston – Denali Stud
Danielle Seitner – Ohio State University – Castleton Lyons Farm
Camille Smith – College of Southern Idaho – Timber Town Stables
Jiselle Sorenson – Southern Utah University – Shadwell Farm
Lauren Teets – University of Nebraska – WinStar Farm
Rebekah Trice – Tarleton State University – Lane’s End/Oak Tree Division

Best of luck to our Spring of 2019 graduates!

KEMI announces Spring 2019 interns

By | News

The Kentucky Equine Management Internship (KEMI) is pleased to welcome 32 interns for the Spring of 2019 session:

Brandi Bahr – University of Wisconsin, Platteville
Bailey Bales – University of Missouri
Cristina Brandon – Colorado State University
Alicia Butsch – Washington State University
Lauren Carter – University of Maryland
Mara Castro – Lexington, Kentucky
Rebecca Cedar – New Mexico State University
Chloe Crowder – Judson College
Gwen Gates – Illinois State University
Camryn Green – Virginia Tech University
Jennifer Hambleton – Washington State University
Kathryn Heath – Texas A&M University
Sadie Jenkins – Oklahoma State University
Veronica Jones – California State University, Fresno
Ambrielle Kaufmann – Louisiana Tech University
Jessica Kelly – Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
Briana Lambert – Colorado State University
Allyson Lammers – Colorado State University
Madison Maneri – University of Connecticut
Caitlin Maus – University of Missouri
Mikaela Moore – University of Wyoming
Kaitlyn Murphy – Pennsylvania State University
Annie Perez – Texas A&M University
Brianna Renner – Oregon State University
Diondrea Richardson – Tuskegee University
Abigail Rigsby – Middle Tennessee State University
Kristina Schroeder – University of Minnesota, Crookston
Danielle Seitner – Ohio State University
Camille Smith – College of Southern Idaho
Jiselle Sorenson – Southern Utah University
Lauren Teets – University of Nebraska
Rebekah Trice – Tarleton State University

Welcome interns!

Graduate Spotlight: Cooper Sawyer

By | News, Testimonials, Uncategorized

Graduate Spotlight: Cooper Sawyer

By: Sarah Coleman

Featured image provided by: Keeneland/Photos by Z


A Rising Trajectory

Though Cooper Sawyer was born in the Bluegrass, he moved from Lexington at 13 before making his way back Northern Kentucky to finish his high school career at Beechwood High School. With a passion for racing and his heart set on the horses, Cooper studied Equine Business Management at Lexington Community College so he didn’t have to leave the Bluegrass again. Once he had completed the equine courses at LCC (now Bluegrass Community and Technical College) Cooper transferred to the University of Kentucky, where he graduated with a degree in Agricultural Communications, Education and Leadership in 2005. (UK did not offer their Ag Equine Program at the time Cooper attended college, he notes.)

Growing up, Cooper’s immediate family was not involved in the Thoroughbred industry, but they did have close family friends who were entrenched in multiple facets of the industry, so he was exposed to both racing and breeding from a young age. The family friends had horses that ran at both Keeneland and Churchill, so Cooper spent quite a bit of time at the tracks with his family and theirs. “My dad would get us out of school early one Friday during the spring and the fall meets when Keeneland was running,” Cooper reminisces. “Racing gives me such good memories of family.”

“I feel like I have always loved the racetrack and wanted to pursue a career within the Thoroughbred industry,” Cooper explains. “I always enjoyed talking horse racing with my dad and his friends, particularly during the Derby prep races in the Spring. It was definitely in my blood from an early age!”

Cooper worked on the track during the summers while he was in high school and originally thought he wanted to return to the track post-graduation. His way of thinking was changed, however, when he decided to expand his industry experience and get a job on a farm to better understand both the breeding aspect and working with foals and yearlings. Lexington was the obvious choice for this industry exploration.

However, though Cooper moved to the heart of horse country, he had a hard time finding farm work on a part-time basis. “I spoke with Garrett O’Rourke’s brother Brian during my search and he mentioned KEMI to me,” Cooper says of learning about the program. “After learning more about it, it seemed like the perfect opportunity.”





The Start of Something Great

“I was very anxious to start the program,” Cooper said. “I would finally get a job on a farm, in an industry I wanted to pursue AND I was able to take a semester off school to do it! It was all very exciting.” Similar to other KEMI grads, one of Cooper’s favorite take-aways from the program was the relationships he built and cultivated while a student in the KEMI program. “I was very fortunate in my placement [at Wimbledon Farm] and I was able to learn from the best team of horseman under the management of Brian O’Rourke. The divisional managers, foreman, and Drs. Brown and Rathgeber were second-to-none, and provided me with an education and experience that was invaluable.” Wimbledon Farm, where Cooper was placed, encompasses over 1,000 acres on the south side of Lexington. The farm boards mares and preps sales horses. Once Cooper’s semester with KEMI ended, he returned to school, but his connection with Wimbledon remained; he worked at the farm during breeding seasons. After graduation from UK, Cooper was focused on gaining more experience with yearlings. He secured a job with Mill Ridge Farm in Lexington, prepping yearlings under Donnie Snellings. Nearly 300 acres, Mill Ridge Farm boards mares, stands stallions, sells horses and offers bloodstock consulting through Nicoma Bloodstock. Mill Ridge is renowned in the Thoroughbred industry for putting the horse’s welfare at the forefront of every decision.

“The leadership at Mill Ridge taught me so much. Mrs. Chandler’s respect for the horse and her philosophy, ‘take care of the horse and the horse will take care of you,’ was ingrained in me at Mill Ridge,” Cooper explains. “For someone who was seeking to gain knowledge working with yearlings, I couldn’t have landed in a better place. I have so much respect for Donnie Snellings and his methods; I was able to learn so much from him and I am forever grateful.”

After spending nearly 5 years at Mill Ridge, Cooper was presented with an opportunity to move to Lane’s End Farm. There, he spent 4 years as the yearling manager, “where I was able to gain a better understanding and insight into the commercial aspect of the industry.” Established in 1979, Will Farish is the owner and founder of Lane’s End Farm, which comprises more than 2,300 acres in both Woodford and Fayette counties. Farish has raced more than 165 stakes winners and bred more than 300 stakes winners, and has won Horse of the Year accolades multiple times.

Lane’s End sells at every major sale, breeds and boards mares. “And I had a front-row seat at one of the best-run organizations in the world,” Cooper explains. “It was a great experience and important step for my career. The Farish’s, Mike Cline and the rest of the Lane’s End team are first class.”

From Lane’s End, Cooper went on to manage St. George Farm for Ian Banwell, a client of Lane’s End and a highly respected proponent of Thoroughbred breeding and racing. St. George was a medium-sized, private commercial breeding operation, which also had a sizable racing stable. “This was the first time in my career that I was able to put all my experiences together and apply it on a daily basis to run a farm. I spent 3 years managing St. George Farm before coming to Mt. Brilliant and I am proud of the accomplishments the farm made under my management,” says Cooper.

Cooper is now the Farm Manager of Mt. Brilliant Farm in Fayette County, Ky. The farm, which is over 1,200 acres, offers boarding and sales prep, and owns horses in training and actively racing, as well. In addition, the farm hosts polo matches and boasts phenomenal gardens, which include a taxus maze, kitchen garden, flower garden and vineyard.




KEMI: Laying the Foundation for Success

Cooper is adamant that KEMI was instrumental in helping him create such a successful career path. “KEMI serves as a launching pad for students wishing to pursue careers in the Thoroughbred industry. The model, comprised of networking, hands-on experience and coursework, has proven to be successful for almost 20 years. KEMI provided the foundation I needed as I was starting to build my career,” he explains. “If you have an interest in the Thoroughbred business, regardless of career path, this experience is a must,” Cooper says. “KEMI provides a built-in system for networking and building a knowledge base within the industry you can’t find on your own.”

KEMI students have to have some stick-to-itiveness, Cooper says with a laugh. “Everyone on the [Wimbledon] farm was trying to make me quit!” Even with the good-natured ribbing, Cooper knew he was meant for the Thoroughbred industry. “During orientation week [at KEMI], we went to a bunch of big farms and saw the stallions, like Giant’s Causeway. It’s an experience I will never forget … I really felt like I was a part of something bigger.”

Like every KEMI grad, Cooper acknowledged that there was a steep learning curve when he was placed on the farm. “I found working on a Thoroughbred farm initially was quite challenging because I was trying to learn as much as I could while still trying to do the best work possible,” he explains.
What he learned on Wimbledon Farm has translated to each of his subsequent career moves, where he garnered additional information and tactics he added to his management toolbox.
But one thing permeates every position he has had, on every farm: “No matter what your position is, take advantage of it, work as hard as you can and learn as much as you can, so you can apply that knowledge base as you progress in your career. And don’t be afraid to ask questions!” Cooper says.

Now married with three children, Cooper acknowledges that working on a farm is much more than a full-time job. Racing has taken a backseat to breeding (and kids); “to stay up with it all is still another full-time job!” he says.

Though he may not get to the races as often as he would like, Cooper is making his mark on the Thoroughbred industry in his own way, working toward the same goal that was instilled in him from his days at KEMI: the betterment of the farm.




Congratulations, Fall 2018 KTFMC award winner, Victoria Canessa!

By | News

The Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers Club (KTFMC) awards one Kentucky Equine Management Internship (KEMI) intern a Management Award each session. This award recognizes an intern for their hard work, professionalism, and dedication to the industry. The award includes a cash prize as well as an opportunity to shadow an industry professional of the intern’s choosing for the week following their internship. Victoria Canessa was recently announced as the KTFMC scholarship winner for the Fall of 2018. Congratulations, Victoria!

Fall 2018 KEMI Graduates

By | News

Congratulations to our Fall of 2018 Kentucky Equine Management Internship (KEMI) graduates!

Lindsey Bieri – Texas A&M University – Lane’s End Farm/Oak Tree Division
Victoria Canessa – University of Buenos Aires, Argentina – Juddmonte Farms
Anna Curlin – Murray State University – Trackside Farm
Jacqueline Dayutis – University of Massachusetts, Amherst – WinStar Farm
Ash Hentges – University of Arizona – Three Chimneys Farm
Michaela Horn – University of Nebraska, Lincoln – Denali Stud
Rachel Knox – University of Arkansas – Crestwood Farm
Christy Markowski – Cazenovia College – Trackside Farm
Kaitlyn Martin – Cal Poly, Pomona – Shawnee Farm
Kristen Mason – University of New Hampshire – Shawnee Farm
Catherine Messerly – Virginia Tech University – Taylor Made Farm
Vanessa Meza – College of the Sequoias – Pin Oak Stud
Madison Miller – University of Wisconsin – Denali Stud
Lauren Moshier – Hocking College – Monticule Farm
Kaitlyn Sciuto – University of Missouri – WinStar Farm
Samantha Una’Dia – California State University, Fresno – Indian Creek Farm
Jennifer Valentine – Rocky Mountain College – Lane’s End Farm
Rebecca Walker – Miles Community College – Darby Dan Farm


Best of luck to our Fall of 2018 graduates!