The impact of Northwest Farms
by Susan van Dyke
n 1973, a fresh new face appeared on the
Washington Thoroughbred racing scene, when at the WHBA Summer Yearling Sale,
Yakima businessman Jerre Paxton out bid longtime local horseman Maurice McGrath
to sign the $25,000 record-breaking sales slip on Swiftsure Stables
EnvoyBeadah filly. Since that time the Paxton name, first dba Yakima
Stallion Station and then afterwards as Northwest Farms, has appeared a dozen
times at the top of the yearly state listing of breeders and has been both a
leading consignor and buyer at the WTBA sales.
addition, Paxton made significant contributions toward the construction of both
the sales barns at Longacres and the current WTBA pavilion and office. He stood
Drum Fire, Washingtons leading sire for five years, and among his many
state champions was Knights Choice, who was bred by Paxton and later returned
to his Yakima birthplace to become the only Washington-bred to ever lead the
state sire ranks (1991). Northwest Farms has produced 10 other Washington or
Emerald Downs champions and was leading owner at Longacres in 1986 and at
Emerald Downs in 1999.
Yakima Stallion Station
early 1970s, Paxton began to develop a first class Thoroughbred stallion
station and nursery on 80 acres adjacent to the original Kwik Lok production
plant. Founded in the 1950s by Jerres father, Floyd Paxton, Kwik Lok
produces all-plastic bag closure clips that appear on bags of apples, breads,
potatoes, etc. With the executive offices located at the Yakima site, Kwik Lok
is an international concern with plants in Canada, Ireland, Australia and
Japan. For a time, Paxtons racing silks incorporated Kwik
Loks into a black, red and white background.
Before he became involved in the world of Thoroughbred
racing, Paxton was involved with Quarter Horse racing, as was his farm manager
Dale Leach. It was a natural transition, said Paxton recently.
The first stallion acquired to stand stud at the Yakima
nursery was Canadian Gil, an unraced chestnut son of 1967 double classic winner
Northern Dancer, who had sired only 23 stakes winners at that time. Before
being later sold to California interests, Canadian Gil sired six stakes
winners, led by the top national turf runner Sprink, who won the Manhattan
Handicap-G1 and placed in two other grade one stakes in New York. Close on
Canadian Gils heels came the purchase of a stallion whose impact is still
felt today Drum Fire. The handsome son of Never Bend was to lead the
Washington sire statistics from 1982 through 1986, before his premature death
in April of 1984.
Foaled in the same crop as Riva
Ridge, to whom he finished third in the Pimlico-Laurel Futurity, Drum Fire
sired multiple Washington champion Flamme is his first full crop. She was soon
followed by runners like Knights Choice, Time of Sale, Sharper One and
Firesweeper. The same year (1985) Firesweeper was honored as top juvenile filly
in the state, Hilco Scamper (by Knights Choice) was named horse of the year and
champion juvenile male. The torch had been successfully passed.
Other stallions to stand parts of their careers at stud
at the Yakima farm through the years included Rock Bath (a Washington horse of
the year), Defense Verdict (a full brother to Valid Appeal and champion Desert
Vixen), Captain Courageous, Grand Occasion, Sharper One (another Washington
champion), Lasting Value, White Fir, Ballindaggin and Chalk Hill.
Yakima Stallion Station was renamed Northwest Farms. Long before the name
change, the name Leach was synonymous with the Yakima facility. Dale Leach, a
longtime family friend, had come on board with Jerres dad Floyd, raising
hay, grain and cattle on Paxton property in nearby Wiley City. Today, as he has
for 30 years, Dale manages the farm, his wife Eunice serves as the farm
bookkeeper and coordinator, while Dales son Kannon is in charge of farm
maintenance and yearling sales prep. All three of the Leachs are highly visible
during the summer sale and are well respected for their professionally run
Northwest Farms first hit the
radar screen as a breeder in 1978, after having two runners in 1976 and an even
dozen in 1977, when they had 23 runners win 18 races and earn $189,621,
finishing in the number two spot statewide. (It must be noted that the first
Paxton-bred Thoroughbred stakes winner was 1977 Yakima Debutante Stakes winner
Determined Owl, who had been purchased by Dale Leach.) The farms first
champion, Knights Choice, raced that season (1978). The following year, they
were again second and bred their second state champion in Loto Canada.
After finishing among the top four breeders during the
next quartet of years, Northwest Farms ascended to the number one spot in 1984.
They would keep atop that lofty pinnacle for 11 more consecutive years.
After their first elevation to the top, Leach remarked,
It did sneak up on us, but we did have a sign on the wall when we first
started back it 1973 that said We will be Number 1. During
this timeframe the Northwest Farms broodmare band had steadily grown and Paxton
had expanded his operation with the addition of a farm in Versailles, Kentucky.
In 1990, they set a new state earnings record of
$740,368, and then eclipsed that amount two years later with $937,421. Also in
1992, Northwest Farms set a new mark in number of state stakes winners bred in
a year with eight, including champions Jellystone Park and Serenity Road. That
figure computes to about 13 percent of the total number of Washington-bred
added money winners that year. In 1994, they became the first, and only to this
point in time, breeder to go over the million mark when their 95
Washington-bred runners earned $1,101,985.
1994, Northwest Farms had drastically reduced their broodmare band. The closure
of Longacres and the premature death of Knights Choice being among the deciding
factors. Though still ranked #1 in 1995, their total was less than half of what
had been earned in 1994, leading second place finishers, Guy and Barbara
Roberts, by less than $15,000. The handwriting was on the wall, and by 1998,
with now almost entirely Kentucky-bred foals, Northwest Farms finished 23rd on
the list of top state breeders and since then has plummeted out of the top 50.
Today their broodmare band consists of 35 well-bred matrons which are boarded
in Kentucky at Robert Clays Three Chimneys Farm and at Bruce Gibbs
Greenfield Farm. Gibbs managed Northwest Farms Kentucky farm before the
property was leased to Three Chimneys.
10 years the WTBA awarded Owners and Breeders of the Month,
Northwest Farms was twice awarded top breeder (July 1994 and July 1996) and
three-times named top owner (September 1998, September 1999 and July 2002). As
Jerre said in a 1998 interview, We are raising yearlings to sell and
running others to try to prove their dams, referring to the changed focus
of the farm.
In commenting on Northwest Farms
long-term success in a difficult industry, Leach said, We are survivors
because we are dedicated to this industry. He then gave credit to his
boss and friend, Jerre has given me the tools to work with.
Blessed Are the Broodmares
Besides standing two of the most prominent stallions in
recent state history, the Northwest Farms broodmare band was one of the most
outstanding in any regional market. In 1978, the farms mare Yang, a
daughter of *Turn-to, was named Wash-ington broodmare of the year when her
first two foals, Hi Chaparral, by Canadian Gil, won the B. J. Gilbert Stakes,
and his younger half-brother Knights Choice was named state champion juvenile
after winning the Joe Gottstein Futurity and placing in both the graded Sunny
Slope and Norfolk Stakes. Yang went on to produce four more winners, including
stakes-placed Tyler Jennings.
Six years later,
Pamlisas Delight, a daughter of Drone, became their second matron to be
named Washington broodmare of the year, and at eight, was the youngest mare to
ever attain the honor. As had Yang, Pamlisas Delights first two
foals were stakes winners and included a Washington champion. Her daughter
Lissome, by Drum Fire, won two stakes, including the 1984 Vacaville Stakes.
Lissomes year younger full brother, Sharper One, was named the
states champion three-year-old colt and sprinter after winning four
stakes at Longacres. But Pamlisas Delight proved to be a better producer
in the long run, as she went on to produce Washington champion and stakes
winner Money by Choice, by Knights Choice, stakes-placed Pams Knight and
S. J.s Delight and six other winners among her 13 additional foals. In
addition, her unraced daughter, Delightful Choice, is the dam of graded stakes
horse and sire Flying With Eagles. (Flying With Eagles, a Kentucky-bred son of
Skywalker topped the 1995 WTBA Summer Sale for Northwest and earned $330,739
while racing for Jill and David Heerensperger.) Both Yang and Pamlisas
Delight had been purchased as race prospects, but were injured before they
could make their racing debuts. Each produced all her foals for Paxton.
Northwest Farms is the only breeder in Washington to
breed six horses to earn over $200,000: Firesweeper ($363,394), Loto Canada
($311,993), Al Renee ($285,534), Jellystone Park ($233,653), Dancing Ova-tion
($226,653) and Money by Choice ($206,040).
Northwest Farms also bred the stakes-winning first and
second dams (St. Helens Shadow and Little Bar Fly) of 2001 Champagne Stakes-G1
winner Officer, whose first foals arrived this year in Kentucky. Northwest
Farms-bred Dancing Ovation is the dam of Metatron, a $310,810 stakes winner who
recently added a win in the Sir Winston Churchill Handicap to his tallies.
Another recent Northwest Farms product,
three-year-old Hosco, won the San Miguel Stakes-G3 and finished second in the
San Vicente Stakes-G2 earlier this year.
Northwest Farms broodmares continue to be bred to some of the best and most
promising stallions in the country. Besides selling a MonarchosAnita
Maria filly for $65,000 and an Honour and GloryFriday Harbor filly for
$33,000 at the WTBA Summer Yearling Sale this past September, Northwest Farms
sold a Grand Slam half-brother to their Emerald Downs champion Taste the
Passion for $900,000 at the Saratoga yearling sale in August. The colt was the
sixth highest priced yearling sold at the premier auction. The farm also was
successful at the Keeneland September sale; selling five head for $1,039,000.
Other 2004 yearlings were sired by Boundary, Cat Thief, Fusaichi Pegasus,
Giants Causeway, High Yield, Kingmambo, Lemon Drop Kid, Pulpit, Siphon
(Brz) and Thunder Gulch.
Records and More Records
Through Paxtons 30 year involvement on the
Washington racing scene, his farm and runners have been responsible for many
records. Some have already been mentioned, and others can be deciphered from
the enclosed sidebars.
From 1980 through this
years summer sale, Northwest Farms has been the leading consignor by
gross in 25 WTBA-held sales: three horses of racing age sale (1980, 1983 and
1984), five winter mixed sales (1986 and 1988-1991) and 17 summer yearling
sales (1982-1984, 1986-1987, 1989-1993, 1995 and 1999-2004). During that time,
the Yakima farm was responsible for 13 sale toppers.
In addition, at the 1988 WTBA Summer Sale, Northwest
Farms was the second leading consignor by gross with $118,500, only $100 less
than leader DanDar Farm. The two highest selling individuals at the 1992 WTBA
Winter Mixed Sale were consigned by the Estate of Heather Dedomenico. Both had
been purchased as yearlings from their breeder/consignor Northwest Farms. The
$120,000 sale topper Twenty Is Plenty came from the 1991 WTBA Summer Sale and
$75,000 purchase Jellystone Park was a 1990 WTBA Summer Sale graduate.
Northwest Farms Racing Stable
Paxton has always kept a personal racing stable as
The first Washington champion to race for
Northwest Farms was not a homebred, but the good filly In Your Defense, who was
bred and sold by A. Jo Postell. An astute $35,000 claim, In Your Defense, a
daughter of Good Counsel, won the Bay Meadows Oaks and placed in two additional
stakes en route to championship honors in 1979.
Paxton homebred and raced Time of Sale earned her state
champion title after winning the Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar, running second
against the boys in the Joe Gottstein Futurity and finishing third to the
ill-fated national heroine Landaluce in the Anoakia Stakes-G3 at Santa Anita.
In between his two state champions, Paxton
received national recognition for a Raise a Native colt he campaigned. Raise a
Man would prove to be one of the fastest members of his generation. At three,
Raise a Man won the San Felipe Handicap-G2 (over The Carpenter and Rumbo) and
the San Vicente Stakes-G3 (over Super Moment). He was bound for Churchill Downs
en route of classic glory before his disappointing finishes in both the Santa
Anita and Hollywood Derbies. At four, he would add wins in the grade two Malibu
Stakes and the Phoenix Gold Cup and a second to Doonesbury in the San Fernando
Stakes-G1. In 12 career starts, he won six, earning $257,450 and a SSI of
Paxton took his homebred champion
Firesweeper to the 1985 Breeders Cup at Aqueduct. Only the second
Washington-bred to ever compete in the series, Firesweeper, with Bill Shoemaker
aboard, gave Pacific northwest racing fans a thrill when she sped to an early
lead in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies-G1, setting the quarter
fraction of :22 3/5. Unfortunately after the first half, the daughter of Drum
Fire was eased during the drive. Firesweeper came back the following year to
earn her second championship title, and before her illustrious career was
through, she had won a record 12 stakes at Longacres. In 1991, Washington
Racing Hall of Famer Captain Condo equaled the gallant fillys stakes
Northwest Farms was the leading owner at
Longacres in 1986 with $263,973, a new record at the time and overall the third
highest meet total in track history.
Paxton led the owners ranks at Emerald Downs with $182,785 in winnings,
including those won by the meets champion two-year-old filly Taste the
Passion. 1999 also marked the season, when over the weekend of September 5 and
6, he won two major stakes races after the first place finishers were
disqualified. Vino Rossi won the $100,000 Eagle Hardware and Garden Derby after
American Justices number was taken down and Taste the Passion was moved
to first place in the $55,000 WTBA Lassies Stakes when Enduring Knight was
disqualified for bumping. 1998 Emerald champion two-year-old colt Vino Rossi
also won the Gottstein Futurity and 1999 Seattle Slew Handicap for his breeder.
Other non-Northwest Farms-bred colorbearers winning stakes in the Paxton colors
at Emerald include 2002 top sophomore filly Lasting Code and 2003 King County
Stakes winner Strikes No Spares.
It is unusual in
this day and age for an entity, especially when dealing with something as
mercurial as Thoroughbreds, to last as long and be as successful as the legacy
built by those involved in Northwest Farms.
Jerre gave me opportunity to work with him to
develop and manage the most suc-cessful Thoroughbred farm in the state,
said Dale Leach. I sincerely thank him.
The soft-spoken Eunice Leach summed up the Paxton
legacy, You have to give Jerre a lot of credit. He has committed to the
Washington industry for a long time. He really loves racing.
Northwest Farms (Kwik Lok Corp.)
- 1976 2 runners, 1 win, $593.
- 1977 12 runners, 5 wins, $29,504.
- 1978 #2 leading Washington breeder: 23 runners, 18
wins, $189,621; SW: Washington champion 2YO colt Knights Choice.
- 1979 #2 leading Washington breeder: 30 runners, 22
wins, $338,768; SWs: Washington champion 2YO colt Loto Canada; Hi Chaparral,
- 1980 #2 leading Washington breeder: 30 runners, 17
wins, $346,558; SWs: Washington champion 3YO colt Loto Canada; Segula Spy,
- 1981 #3 leading Washington breeder: 24 runners, 12
wins, $246,741; SW: Loto Canada.
- 1982 #2 leading Washington breeder: 30 runners, 20
wins, $241,288; SWs: Washington champion 2YO filly Time of Sale; Canadian
Shadow, Hot n Bold.
- 1983 #4 leading Washington breeder: 29 runners, 38
wins, $211,468; SW: Sharper One.
- 1984 #1 leading Washington breeder: 34 runners, 20
winners, $366,353; SWs: Washington champion 3YO colt and sprinter Sharper One;
Copyright Girl, Lissome, Maids Miracle.
- 1985 #1 1eading Washington breeder: 38 runners, 21
winners, $377,115; SWs: Washington champion 2YO filly Firesweeper; Run Roni
- 1986 #1 leading Washington breeder: 48 runners, 27
winners, $527,130; SWs: Washington champion 3YO filly Firesweeper; Foxy Island,
Grey Satan, Talks Cheap.
- 1987 #1 leading Washington breeder: 53 runners, 30
winners, $495,974; SWs: Firesweeper, High On the Town, Showtime Lady,
Talks Cheap, Thank You Quaker.
- 1988 #1 leading Washington breeder: 57 runners, 33
winners, $334,664; SWs: none.
- 1989 #1 leading Washington breeder: 67 runners, 43
winners, $542,814; SWs: Washington champion 2YO filly A Dollar One; Saucy
Writer, Stormy Verdict, Taylor North, True Bart, and Ithad to Besure (in
partnership with Dale Leach).
- 1990 #1 leading Washington breeder: 97 runners,
41winners, $641,509; SWs: Knight Predator, Money by Choice.
- 1991 #1 leading Washington breeder: 70 runners, 41
winners, $740,369; SWs: Washington champion 2YO colt Tough to Crack, Washington
champion older mare Money by Choice; Andis Knight, Knight Predator,
Sharper Lover, That Knight.
- 1992 #1 leading Washington breeder: 81 runners, 54
winners, $937,421; SWs: Washington champion 3YO colt Jellystone Park,
Washington champion sprinter Serenity Road; Kazbar, Knight Predator, Shingen
Dream, Suzanastasia, Tough to Crack, and Twenty Is Plenty (in partnership with
- 1993 #1 leading Washington breeder: 96 runners, 68
winners, $892,437; SWs: Washington champion 2YO filly Dancing Ovation,
Washington champion 2YO colt Al Renee; Grambo, Money by Choice, Mr. Easy Money,
What a Knight, and Twenty Is Plenty (in partnership with Heather Dedomenico).
- 1994 #1 leading Washington breeder: 95 runners, 58
winners, $1,101,985; SWs: Acquitted, Al Renee, Kazbar, Medipal, Mr. Easy Money,
Run Tuffy Run, Serenity Road, Sports Funagin, and not included in totals,
Kentucky-bred Baby Barfly.
- 1995 #1 leading Washington breeder: 62 runners, 40
winners, $513,836; SWs: Al Renee, Lady in Sable.
- 1996 #5 leading Washington breeder: 45 runners, 50
wins, $290,232; SW: Dancing Ovation.
- 1997 #7 leading Washington breeder: 31 runners, 42
wins, $204,281; SW: Dancing Ovation.
- 1998 #23 leading Washington breeder: 18 runners,
20 wins, $98,033; SWs: none.
- 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 not included in top
50 Washington breeders.
Northwest Farms Sales Toppers
- Sale Sex, Pedigree, Price, Consignor
- 1973 WTBA Summer Sale, filly, EnvoyBeadah,
$25,000*, Swiftsure Stable
- 1982 WTBA Summer Sale, filly, Drum
FireMarket Rose, $70,000, Valleymeade Farm
- 1982 WTBA Winter Sale, mare, Pretencia, $55,000,
John C. Beeson
- 1984 WTBA Winter Sale, colt, Drum FireNavira
Flame, $17,000, Wm. Buckley and McMurry Farm
- 1985 WTBA Summer Sale, filly, Cajun
PrincePress to Test, $45,000, T. K. Roe
- 1985 WTBA Winter Sale, mare, Ginger Sauce,
$26,000, Beeson Farm
- 1987 WTBA Winter Sale, filly, Table
RunLeather Hands, $27,000, Guy Bar Farm, agent
- 1990 WTBA Winter Sale, filly, Table
RunCommercial Venture, $22,000, Foothills Farm
- Sale Sex, Pedigree, Price, Buyer
- 1979 WTBA Summer Sale, colt, Drum
FireSpokane Native, $52,000**, Herman Sarkowsky
- 1980 WTBA HIT Sale, colt, Drum FireT. V.
Actress, $27,000, Terry Knight, agent
- 1984 WTBA HIT Sale, filly, Balance of
PowerKentucky Maid, $30,000, Valley View Ranch
- 1984 WTBA Summer Sale, filly, Drum
FireSkysweeper, $67,000, Edwards Bloodstock
- 1986 WTBA Summer Sale, colt, Knights
ChoiceSystem Lady, $70,000, Paskey Dedomenico
- 1987 WTBA Summer Sale, filly, Knights
ChoicePamlisas Delight, $130,000, Paskey Dedomenico
- 1989 WTBA Winter Sale, colt, Table
RunDetermined Owl, $29,000, Brian J. Maier
- 1991 WTBA Summer Sale, colt, SkywalkerGot
You Runnin, $60,000, Heather Dedomenico
- 1991 WTBA Winter Sale, colt, Tough KnightHer
Special World, $18,000, Ron Crockett
- 1992 WTBA Summer Sale, colt, Time for a
ChangeGot You Runnin, $50,000, Henry Eisenstaedt
- 1995 WTBA Summer Sale, colt,
SkywalkerDelightful Choice, $120,000***, David and Jill Heerensperger
- 1997 WTBA Summer Sale, filly, Star de
NaskraNo Extra Charge, $140,000+, Dan J. Agnew
- 1999 WTBA Summer Sale, filly, Mt.
LivermoreSpectacular Bev, $125,000, Darby Dan Bloodstock
- 2000 WTBA Summer Sale, colt, Miners
MarkJamaican Me Smile, $185,000*, David and Jill Heerensperger
- 2001 WTBA Summer Sale, colt, Fit to FightNon
Stop Chatter, $105,000, David and Jill Heerensperger
- 2001 WTBA Winter Sale, colt, Devils
BagNo Extra Charge, $37,000, Bill Feeley
- 2002 WTBA Summer Sale, colt, Siphon
(Brz)Renees Reflection, $120,000, Fleetwood Bloodstock LLC, agent
*New Washington record; ** co-sale topper; *** new
Washington record for a colt; + equaled record price for yearling;
purchased with Stan Thurman.
for a complete list of all the Washington Hall of Fame inductees.