News & Events
Meet team equistaff
With grass roots beginnings in what is now known as The Horse Capital of the World, the the first equestrian staffing agency, Equistaff, Inc. started in Ocala. Founder and President, Mary K. Thomas, saw a need for quality equestrian employees in all aspects of equine businesses. Arriving in Ocala, FL in the early 1980’s, Mary began working in the Thoroughbred industry. Now a vastly successful business, Equistaff, Inc. is able to go back to where it all started – the barn. Team Equistaff horses, owned wholly or in part by Equistaff, Inc. and Team Equistaff, LLC, running under the name Team Equistaff, provide Equistaff with its very own sports team. Thoroughbreds have always been Mary’s favorite breed. Interested in giving back, Equistaff is a proud sponsor of the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance. Info located at www.thoroughbredaftercare.org. As a member of TOBA, CEP and the Ocala Horse Alliance, Equistaff works to preserve and improve the horse industry locally. Find more information at www.ocalahorsealliance.com. Equistaff, Inc. is a proud sponsor of Tampa Bay Downs racetrack – Tampa Cup Day. www.tampabaydowns.com . GO TEAM EQUISTAFF!
Mary K. Thomas, Owner
Mary has been a horse lover since childhood. Since moving to Ocala, Mary has been involved in the equestrian business and community. So naturally, she is very excited to have Thoroughbreds actively racing. Giving back locally to MTRA and nationally to the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, she is happiest when contributing to preserve horse racing and improve the lives of horses. See www.maryk.com for more details.
Gerald Bennett, Trainer
A native of Nova Scotia and owner of The Winning Stables, Gerald has been training Thoroughbred’s since 1974. Always the leading trainer in Tampa, Gerald winters in Florida and summers in Delaware. In April 2021, Bennett saddled the 3,975th winner of his career, surpassing Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Famer Frank Merrill Jr’s record, and making Bennet the winningest Canadian-Born Thoroughbred Trainer of all time. His talent for training winners is only surpassed by his love for the horses.
Kathleen O’Connell, Trainer
Kathleen O’Connell grew up in Detroit, spending a lot of time at Detroit Race Course before she turned horse racing into her career. She has since won more than 2,000 races, including graded stakes with Blazing Sword, Ivanavinalot, Fly By Phil and 2011 Kentucky Derby entrant Watch Me Go. Team Equistaff is proud to have Kalthleen training one of our very own.
Mark E. Casse, Trainer
Mark Cassee grew up in Ocala, Florida where his father established Cardinal Hill Farm and was one of the founders of the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company. Casse is a 13 time winner of the Sovereign Award for Outstanding Trainer (Canada) and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2020. He has saddled the winners of two Triple Crown races – War of Will in the 2019 Preakness Stakes and Sir Winston in that year’s Belmont Stakes.
Team Equistaff secured shares in this 2020 Kentucky Derby winner through myracehorse.com. MyRacehorse.com was named the 2020 new owner of the year at the Eclipse Awards! In December of 2020, it was announced he was the winner of the 2020 Secretariat Vox Populi Award. This bay colt is out of Flawless and is sired by Into Mischief, who won the Los Alamitos Futurity and went on to become a highly successful breeding stallion. Authentic just retired to stud at Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky after winning the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders Cup. His first breeding season is over and we can’t wait to see the foals. Named Horse of the Year and Champion 2020 he was bred to 39 Grade 1, 30 Grade 2 and 35 Grade 3 mares. https://www.spendthriftfarm.com/stallions/authentic/
Team Equistaff welcomed this bay filly out of their own Mineshaft Madness and sired by Bridlewood Farm’s Valiant Minister on February 25, 2022. Mineshaft Madness is an allowance winner of $83,000 dollars and won her first time out the gate. Valiant Minister’s first crop is racing now and have been popular at the sales. Little Carol has the honor of baring the name of Mary K. Thomas’ late mother, Carol Thomas. Carol was a feisty and accomplished woman, Team Equistaff knows this little filly will do the name proud!
Barn Name: Crafty
Purchased at the Fasig-Tipton Selected Yearlings Sale July 2021, this chestnut colt is out of Crafty’s Way, by Giant’s Causeway, and sired by American Pharoah. American Pharoah was 2015’s Horse of the Year, Triple Crown winner, Breeder’s Cup Classic winner, and in winning all four races, became the first horse to win the Grand Slam of Thoroughbred racing. Steve Haskin, of Bloodhorse.com, said of American Pharoah, “An icon; the personification of perfection – physically, mechanically, and mentally. In short, the ultimate racing machine.”. This young colt’s future looks bright and Team Equistaff is overjoyed to be a part of his journey! Crafty is now 2 years old and in training. Team Equistaff hopes to see him on the track this Summer!
Dreaming of Snow
Purchased at the OBS March 2022 sale, this chestnut filly is out of Snow Fashion and sired by Jess’s Dream. Jess’s Dream is the sire of 3 crops of racing age, 173 foals, 77 starters, 34 winners of 57 races and earning $2,115,285, including black-type-placed Restofthestory. Stay tuned for updates!
The Goddess Lyssa
Barn Name: Lyssa
Purchased at the OBS June 2019 sale, this bay filly is sired by Fury Kapcori, now standing at Journeyman Stud. Brilliant at two and stakes-placed at three, Fury Kapcori hit the board 10 of 14 stakes races and was a model of consistency. Son of Horse of the Year Tiznow and from the Female Family of Horse of the Year Favorite Trick. After winning 5 of 8 starts including the Minaret Stake, we have retired Lyssa and given her a new career as a broodmare. She is currently in foal and due around April 10, 2022 to The Factor who stands at Lane’s End in Lexington, Kentucky . He is currently ranked #1 Sixth-Crop Sire and his recent GSW Charmaine’s Mia is still on the track. https://lanesend.com/thefactor..
Barn Name: Lysander
Team Equistaff welcomed Lysander to the team on April 3, 2022, at 8:35pm. Lysander gets his name from the Greek military and political leader who won the final victory for Sparta in the Peloponnesian War. This dark brown colt is out of Team Equistaff’s The Goddess Lyssa and sired by The Factor, who stands at Lane’s End. Lysander stood up within 20 minutes and we’re told he’s very well behaved when being walked out. Welcome to the team Lysander! We’re excited to watch you grow!
Barn Name: Lucky
This daughter of Mineshaft won wire to wire on her first time out for Team Equistaff. Her sire, Mindshaft, is a multi-millionaire racehorse and successful stallion who now stands at Lanes End in Kentucky. Her dam, My Lucky Shoes, is the winner of over $100,000 and was in the money 12 times out of 17 starts. Lucky is an allowance winner of $83,000 dollars. At age 6, she has retired to become a broodmare in Ocala and lives at Russlewood Farm. Pronounced in foal to Valiant Minister who stands at Bridlewood Farm. http://www.bridlewoodfarm.com/horse/valiant-minister/ Valiant Minister’s first crop is racing now and have experienced popularity at the sales. Lucky is now the proud mom of a bay filly by the name of Carol.
She’s Peachy Keen
Barn Name: Peachy
Purchased at the OBS April 2021 sale, this bay filly is out of W W Old School, by Royal Academy, and sired by Keen Ice, a G1 winner with earnings over $3.4 million. His most notable accomplishment was defeating American Pharoah in the G1 Traverse, making him the only horse to cross the wire ahead of the reigning Triple Crown Champion during his 3YO campaign. This filly is gorgeous and won on her first time out! Peachy is currently with trainer Gerald Bennett at Tampa Bay Downs and took 3rd place in December. GO PEACHY!
Tap Dance Fever
Barn Name: Tappy
Purchased at the OBS Spring 2020 sale, this gorgeous bay filly is out of It’s Heidi’s Dance and sired by Tapiture. A son of Tapit, this Black-type winner of $1,536,820 is out of multiple Graded stakes producer, Free Spin, making him full brother to 2019 Super Derby winner, Rotation, and his full sister produced 2019 Golden Rod S, and 2020 Rachel Alexandra S winner, Finite. Tapiture was also named the #1 second-crop sire of 2018. It’s Heidi’s Dance is the dam of 7 foals to win including stakes winner Fast and Accurate. Placing third in her very first start, she won her second start. She is now at Tampa Bay Downs and always in the money.
If you have any questions or would like information on where are horses will be racing next, follow our Facebook page for updates!