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Featured Farm - Candyland Farm


Candyland Farm

Taking a scenic drive through the countryside is part of the American weekend tradition. There’s just something about getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city that allows us all to relax, recharge and enjoy the beauty of unblemished rural America.

Thirty years ago, Herb and Ellen Moelis took one of these leisurely drives from New York to Delaware and transitioned from the high paced lives of New York executives to owners of Candyland Farm. Located on 160 acres in Middleton, DE, what initially started out as a menagerie of horses, cows, goats and potbelly pigs has turning into a thriving Thoroughbred breeding operation.

Photo of a horse in a pasture at Candyland Farm

General Manager, Mike Palmer, has been part of the Candyland Farm team for over 20 years. “I was brought on by the Moelises to work on the farm and maintain the facility and animals,” says Palmer. “It definitely wasn’t a management position and we weren’t a Thoroughbred-centric operation at the time.” However, Palmer had a passion for and history of working with Thoroughbreds and inquired if the Moelises would like to get more involved in the Thoroughbred game. The answer was yes and Candyland was about to make a mark on the world of Thoroughbred breeding.

Candyland started off with four Thoroughbred mares during their first breeding season. “We played the game well that first season as we paid $30,000-$40,000 for the each of mares and sold two of their offspring for $100,000 and above,” explains Palmer. Together Herb and Mike go through the list of broodmares and try to figure out the best stud match to compliment the pedigree of the mare. “The hardest question when new stallions are coming on the scene is, ‘Does a successful racing career equal a good stud horse’,” states Palmer. Candyland has done quite well in projecting which studs will bring the high dollars for their offspring.

“We’ve really hit hard and had a lot of success with graded stakes winner Uncle Mo,” says Palmer. In fact Candyland Farm was the breeder of an Uncle Mo sired colt who sold for $1 milion at the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale in March 2016. This isn’t the first time breeding shed success has been noted in the sales ring for Candyland. CandyLand is a perennial leading consignor at the Fasig Tipton Fall Mid-Atlantic Yearling Sale. Horses bred by Candyland have topped the various bloodstock sales on the east coast five times over the years.

While topping the sales are definitely a source of pride for all those associated with Candyland it’s not their end all be all goal. “Right now we are really focused on breeding and raising a good horse that could go and win the Triple Crown,” explains Palmer. “We want to send sound, sturdy, hickory-boned horses to the sales and watch them win big races.”

Not only do the Moelises actively enjoy breeding great thoroughbreds and racing through their own Candy Stable, they are actively involved in the racing industry. Herb Moelis helped spearhead the Delaware Certified Thoroughbred Program, which began in 2003, with the Delaware legislature. The program gives breeders and owners and incentive to house their young stock in Delaware. “If horses spend 90 consecutive days in Delaware prior to March 31st of their two year old year, they become Delaware certified,” explains Palmer. Delaware certified horses win bonus purses for win, place or show finishes at Delaware park. Not only has this been an asset to those in the thoroughbred industry, it has helped those in equine related business as there are more horses to service in the area.

Horses running in a pasture at Candyland Farm

Since the program’s inception Candyland Farm has boarded and certified over 300 horses. One of the more notable horses Candyland boarded and certified was Eclipse Award winner Havre de Grace. “When the horses are at Candyland we treat them as if they were ours, yet at the same time we stay out of the owner’s way,” notes Palmer. “It’s really neat to play a small 90 day part in their lives and watch them go on and do great things.”

The Moelises are also concerned about what happens after thoroughbred’s racing days are behind him. During the 1990s, the Moelises, Allaire DuPont and other MidAtlantic thoroughbred owners got together to host a small dinner auction with funds distributed to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. In 1997, after many successful Stallion Season auction events, over $1 million had been raised and the Thoroughbred Charities of America were born. Herb Moelis served as the TCA president for 20 years, helping to provide better lives for Thoroughbreds both during and after their racing careers. The Moelises practice what they preach as their retired racehorses such as Cat Be Nimble and Scary Bob live out their retired days at Candyland Farm.

Southern States® is proud to be the feed of choice for Candyland Farm. Currently Palmer is feeding the 40 plus horses on the farm the following feeds; Legends® Growth, Legends Omega Plus®, Triple Crown® Lite and also uses Triple Crown Rice Bran Oil. “I know I have exhausted myself on the nutrition front and I believe Southern States has exhausted itself in researching and making the best horse feeds available,” suggests Palmer. “I’ve been in the business a long time and I have never seen the results I see on horses that are fed Southern States products.”

Not only does Palmer like the products, he truly enjoys the hands on approach of his Middletown Southern States. Flip Wright and Sam Mitchell have helped Candyland have the best fields and forage available based on their agronomy expertise, while Stacey Calloway is always there to assist. “I have never met anyone in my life who is more ‘what can I do for you?’ then Stacey,” remarks Palmer.


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