The world-renowned Kentucky Thoroughbred farm, Claiborne, has origins in Virginia. There Civil War veteran Capt. Richard Hancock raised Thoroughbreds on the Ellerslie Farm of his wife's family. The move to Kentucky came with the next generation when Capt. Hancock's son Arthur B. Hancock established a second farm on the property of his own bride and named it Claiborne. The Kentucky farm gradually eclipsed the Virginia property, and Arthur Hancock launched an operation which strongly influenced the path of American breeding in the first half of the 20th Century. Importations of such European horses as Sir Gallahad III and Blenheim II resulted in the likes of Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox and Whirlaway, while Hancock's advice in the bloodstock enterprises of many of America's industrial giants added to his influence. Indeed, on his death in 1957, the English annual Bloodstock Breeders' Review described him as "probably the most influential breeder in the history of the American Turf." His son then stepped up to match that status in his own era.
Arthur B. (Bull) Hancock Jr. continued the pattern of breeding major winners, importing important stallions, and dealing with the elite among American breeders. His imported Nasrullah led the sire list five times and begot Bold Ruler, which led it no fewer than eight times and sired the immortal Secretariat. Hancock also bred and stood Round Table, syndicated Nijinsky II, and managed the career of Buckpasser. These and other epic names liberally covered the canvas that was the portrait of Claiborne Farm during his lifetime.
In 1972, Seth Hancock, stepped up to make his own headlines when he syndicated Secretariat for a record $6 million. This was merely the launch of an era of Seth's leadership of Claiborne, which mirrors that of his ancestors and continues nearly four decades later. Again, the underpinning of Claiborne was the management of its own and clients' high quality broodmare bands, while the headlines were provided by the stallions and race horses. Seth has matched the parade of stallions acquired and managed by his father and grandfather, as such names as Mr. Prospector, Danzig, and Seeking the Gold took their places in history. Modern stallions have increased to 27 the number of times the leading sire of the year has stood at Claiborne Farm. Meanwhile, Seth won a Kentucky Derby with Swale, campaigned two-time Breeders' Cup winner Lure, bred and raced champion Forty Niner, and authored a lasting influence on the international Turf as the breeder of stallions Nureyev and Caerleon and the dam of Sadler's Wells.
The strand of Claiborne Farm's influence has been strong and unbroken, and now leads into its second century.