Chris Gracie of Gracie Bloodstock Breeds Success in Middleburg, VA

Chris Gracie, a Pennsylvanian who grew up riding in Kennett Square and is now owner of Gracie Bloodstock, came into the racing industry as an amateur steeplechase rider. He amassed many accolades in the sport such as being the youngest rider in history to win the Maryland Hunt Cup in 2003 on Swayo. He won that race again in 2006 aboard Bug River. But at 6’4 he always knew he was going to be too tall to continue riding competitively and committed himself to his studies at the University of Kentucky, earning a degree in Business Management. He used those skills as he transitioned to the breeding industry. Chris did everything, working with stallions, preparing yearlings, working on consignments, and at breeding farms. After spending time in Kentucky learning the trade, he set out to start his own business.

 About 3 years ago Chris took over Locust Hill Farm in Middleburg, VA. The historic property was previously owned by longtime Virginia horsewoman and member of the Virginia Steeplechase Association Hall of Fame Magalen (Maggie) Ohrstrom Bryant. She was known for breeding excellent steeplechase and flat horses, and she campaigned V.E. Day, winner of the 2014 Travers Stakes (Gr. I) at Saratoga. Her Virginia-bred Deputy Fling won at Colonial Downs in the 2011 Bert Allen Stakes. Two of her steeplechase horses, Plated and Gustavian, found success at Great Meadow. Her Personal Start captured the Grade 2 David Semmes Memorial Stakes at the 2018 Virginia Gold Cup meet.

Chris fell in love with the Middleburg area and is excited about his adopted home’s lucrative equine breeding programs, specifically the Virginia-certified and Virginia-bred programs. “We have been foaling a ton of mares now because the program has gotten so good.”  He has seen an increase in the number of people who want to bring down mares to the state. “I think myself and my clients are making a big investment in Virginia-Breds due to the trajectory of the program.” He continued “outside of Kentucky this is the best breeding program in the country, especially for people who breed commercially, it has a lot of upside.”

Solid evidence supports Chris’ enthusiasm about the Virginia-Certified Residency Program. More than 5,000 horses have been enrolled since the project’s inception in 2017. A recent study commissioned by the Virginia Equine Alliance (VEA) shows the Virginia-Certified Residency Program generated an estimated economic impact of $86.2 million between 2017 and 2023.

Chris is projecting to have 35 foals this season, a number he believes is just the right amount for his operation. “We have people ship horses in, I have a bunch of my mares, and I have some with partners. We are looking forward to having some Virginia-Breds.”

The horses that have been foaled or certified at Gracie Bloodstock have been tearing it up on the racetracks across North America.  Book’em Danno was the New Jersey horse of the year with 4 wins and 2 seconds in his 6 career starts, notably winning the Black-type Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs and the Futurity Stakes at the Belmont at the Big A meet. He recently finished second in the Grade 3 Boutique group Saudi Derby Stakes, pushing his lifetime earnings to $560,625.

Carmelina, who was just named 2023 Virginia-Certified Filly Champion by the Virginia Thoroughbred Association (VTA,) was also certified by Chris. She has had 8 starts in her career, including four wins and a second. She won the Black-type Gin Talking Stakes at Laurel Park, the Black-Type Shamrock Rose Stakes at Penn National, and the Keswick Stakes at Colonial Downs. She has earned $263,300 in her time on the track.

Despite all these major successes outside of Virginia, Chris still has a sweet spot for Colonial Downs and looks forward to bringing his horses down to race at his adopted track. “The racing at Colonial is getting better all the time!”