Since its inception in 1982, Centennial Farms has been involved in the highest levels of Thoroughbred racing and breeding and, through the use of racing partnerships, has opened the door for many people to enjoy this exciting sport. Centennial Farms’ goal is simple: purchase high-class racing prospects at the country’s most prestigious public sales, develop them into champion racehorses, and retire them to successful stallion careers.
Out of his desire to make participating in horse racing a business risk, not speculation, Donald Little used his experience as a horseman and top five-ranked Boston investment banker to create Centennial Farms. Careful analysis proved to Little that by buying horses at the select sales, such as Keeneland and Saratoga, owners could greatly increase their chances at obtaining a top racehorse. With this in mind, Little assembled a talented group of people to help in the buying and training of these young stars.
His son, Don Little Jr., a former world-class polo player, after attending the University of Virginia, joined Centennial and now runs the company as President. Don’s horse knowledge goes back to his childhood when he first began riding at age two. Through his travels with polo, he and his dad met veterinarian Dr. Stephen Carr in Aiken, South Carolina. Don, Jr. eventually worked for Dr. Carr as an assistant at the Aiken Training Center during his final semester of high school.
Shortly thereafter, Dr. Carr, who treated such standouts as Secretariat and Forego, came on board to head the bloodstock selection team. Ms. Paula Parsons, a trainer who has shown a considerable and consistent ability at picking talented horses, would soon join the team. Ms. Parsons would also take charge of the breaking and early conditioning of Centennial’s horses at Centennial’s Middleburg, Virginia farm, adjacent to the Middleburg Training Track before they are sent off to world-class trainers in New York, Florida and Mid-Atlantic circuits.
Dr. Carr and Ms. Parsons inspect every colt at the sales at Saratoga and Keeneland. Each potential purchase must pass an extensive examination of their conformation and a careful analysis of their pedigree. This is to ensure that each individual has the proper ingredients to become a top-class race horse and a top-class stallion.
Using this approach has proven itself. In its 38-year history, Centennial Farms horses have won or placed in over 148 graded stakes races with total purse earnings in excess of $26 million. Such horses as Corinthian, 2007 Breeders Cup Mile winner and Eclipse finalist; Lil’s Lad, 1998 Fountain of Youth winner; Rubiano, 1992 Eclipse Award Sprint Champion; Colonial Affair, 1993 Belmont Stakes and 1994 Whitney and Jockey Club Gold Cup winner; Wicked Strong, 2014 Wood Memorial and Jim Dandy winner; Unified, 2016 Bay Shore and Peter Pan and 2017 Gulfstream Sprint winner; and Preservationist, 2019 Suburban and Woodward winner, exemplify the quality of Centennial Farms’ approach to racehorse ownership.
Through Centennial Farms’ partnerships, shareholders own a group of colts with top pedigrees which, if successful on the racetrack, will be extremely desirable as stallion prospects. Once a colt has a successful racing career and becomes a stallion prospect, partners can elect to sell their interest, retain them for breeding purposes or receive a percentage of the stud fees generated annually. Corinthian, with earnings over $1.2 million sold for $10 million; Rubiano, with over $1.2 million in earnings sold for $3 million; Colonial Affair with lifetime earnings over $1.6 million sold as a stallion for $3 million; Wicked Strong with over $1.9 million in purse earnings sold for $2 million; most recently, Unified and Preservationist, with combined earnings of over $1.5 million on-track, exchanged hands in lucrative stud deals.
In addition to its racing partnerships, Centennial Farms also provides its clients with assistance in other areas of the Thoroughbred industry such as broodmare acquisition, stallion management and the purchase of fillies for racing and breeding.
The entire Centennial Farms team is also committed to thoroughbred aftercare. The registration papers of all Centennial horses are adorned with a sticker detailing that the horses are not to go to slaughter and include our toll-free number. Each horse is tracked throughout their career and Centennial plays an active role in finding retirement homes, including many with members of the management team and partners.