Suzi and Doctor Spock, NYS Fair, 1971
If some little girls' dreams ride on the backs of horses, a whole herd of them graze inside the black board fences at Lantern Hill Farm. With little more than a girlhood riding show horses and a passion to live with them in Kentucky, Suzi Shoemaker moved to Lexington after completing her bachelor's degree in Animal Science at Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in 1978.
A tiny piece of leased land on the edge of town was the first Kentucky home for Lantern Hill, which takes its name from Prince Edward Island's fictional lighthouse in the 1937 Lucy Maud Montgomery novel, Jane of Lantern Hill.
After Suzi worked as an assistant farm manager and wrote a few freelance magazine articles, she decided the surest path to success with horses was to enter the overheated Thoroughbred bloodstock market. In 1982 a sympathetic banker lent Suzi exactly enough money to buy one old mare, No Crime, at the Keeneland January sale.
Long past her prime for that year's Eclipse Award-winning breeder, Elmendorf Farm, No Crime (No Robbery-Chanteur Star [GB], by Chanteur [FR]), rewarded her new family when two of her foals earned black type within the year. As the bloodstock market weakened and headed for its historic dive, Lantern Hill was able to sell No Crime and her yearling, pay off the bank and turn a handy profit.
Seed money from this first investment, plus the later contributions of Suzi's mom, Audrey Daniels, allowed Lantern Hill to acquire three other mares in the mid-1980s, and its first clients and sales consignments. In 1989, the proceeds from the farm's first Keeneland July Selected Yearling (the gift of yet another old stakes producer, Muriels Dream) funded the purchase of a 75-acre farm in Scott County.
While many horse farms faltered or just disappeared during the late 1980s and early 1990s, Lantern Hill thrived, mostly because of mares purchased just as their families were set to improve, but also because of the support of loyal clients who invested in mares with Suzi.
Star Empress, left, and Priceless Countess,
dam of Champagne SW ORDWAY (G-1)
At the 1990 Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale, Suzi purchased 19-year-old Star Empress (Young Emperor-Questar, by Requested) for one of these early partnerships. Star Empress was carrying a full sister to future Grade 3 winner Star of Gdansk, then an untried two-year-old in Ireland.
That in-utero filly, later named Shawgatny, topped a session of the 1991 Keeneland July Yearling Sale, raced successfully in Ireland and, after a lackluster broodmare career, was repurchased by Lantern Hill in 2002.
Bred to Officer in 2003, Shawgatny produced that stallion's first stakes winner, Satulagi, who beat colts at Ascot in the Diamond Winkfield Stakes (L) in 2006. A Star Empress granddaughter, Clever Empress, is the dam of 2007 graded stakes winner Terrific Challenge, who also was bred and raised at Lantern Hill and whose most recent win came at the expense of champion Thor's Echo in the Marju Mahab Al Shimaal (UAE-G3) during Dubai's Winter Carnival.
By 1995, Suzi had purchased 144 acres of the former Parrishwood Farm in Woodford County. The farm was the birthplace of the 1984 Eclipse Award winner as champion older mare, Princess Rooney (Verbatim-Parrish Princess, by Drone), for her breeders, Dr. Ben and Tom Roach. In just ten years' time, that land would nurture a second Eclipse Award winner, Dreaming of Anna, this time under the care and management of Lantern Hill.
Dreaming of Anna wins Breeders' Cup
Juvenile Fillies, 2006
Dreaming of Anna (Rahy-Justenuffheart, by Broad Brush), was foaled and raised at Lantern Hill, as was her older full brother, stakes winner Lewis Michael. The filly was undefeated in four races in 2006, including the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), and was the runaway winner of the Eclipse Award as champion two-year-old filly.
With the purchase of an adjacent 40-acre tract in November of 2005, Lantern Hill Farm today comprises 185 acres of the best Maury-McAfee silt loam, six barns with 62 stalls, and a late Victorian home which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Cooper House.
Solid horsemanship, attention to detail, a willingness to adapt as the horse business changes, and responsiveness to clients' goals have allowed Lantern Hill to fill a niche not met by large farms and mega-consignors. And of course, the farm has bred, raised or sold some nice horses along the way. Besides champion Dreaming of Anna, they include Grade 1 winners Capt. Candyman Can, Ordway and Pampered Princess; Grade 2 winners Lewis Michael and Skybound; Grade/Group 3 winners Carthage, Cozy Blues, Melrose Avenue, Mr. John, and Terrific Challenge; and stakes winners Conchacer, Satulagi, Return to Paradise, Lord Carmen, Olivine, King Hesperus, Launch a Double, and September Splendor.