aboutUs

About Country Life & Merryland Farms

 
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**Home

About Us: Home

Lush Pastures
Lush Pastures at Country Life

Country Life Farm and Merryland Farm encompass 113 and 180 acres in Bel Air and Hydes, Maryland, respectively. Country Life has been the home of the Pons family's Thoroughbred breeding operation since 1933. Country Life and Merryland are equipped to handle every aspect of your Thoroughbred's career, from foaling to breaking to training to breeding.

Merryland, nine miles from Country Life, features a 5/8-mile training track, complete with a starting gate. Merryland has its own two-stall French-style stallion barn where Rock Talk (sire of Eclipse Champion Heartlight No. One) once stood, and where our own stallions were housed in 2012 and 2013 until the completed renovation of the Country Life stud barn.

Merryland Training Track.
A 5/8 mile track, with starting gate, is the centerpiece of Merryland Farm.
**Our "Team"

About Us: Our Team

Mike Pons
Mike Pons
Josh Pons
Josh Pons

Brothers Josh and Mike Pons are the grandsons of Country Life founder Adolphe Pons. They took over management of the day-to-day operations of Country Life in 1981, and have overseen the farm through such notable events as the foaling of Cigar in 1990 and the launching of Malibu Moon's stud career in 2000.

Josh currently serves as president of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, along with serving as secretary of the Thoroughbred Charities of America. Also, Josh has been presented with a pair of Eclipse Awards for his writing in The Blood-Horse magazine. Mike is a past president of the MHBA and Maryland Million, and he is currently on the board of the Maryland Million.



Christy Holden
Christy Holden

Christy Holden started working for Country Life when she was in high school back in the mid-80's. She showed hunters and jumpers, retrained and sold horses and taught riding lessons before returning to Country Life full-time in 2004. After handling just about every possible office and farm duty, she was named the Broodmare Manager in 2010, and was recently promoted to General Manager of Country Life and Merryland.

Jackie Savoye
Jackie Savoye

Jackie Savoye, former assistant to veteran Maryland trainer Dale Capuano, in addition to having worked for Gary Capuano and Mary Eppler, brings her skills with young horses to Merryland as farm trainer. Jackie has experience breaking yearlings and galloping racehorses, and is a licensed trainer who had several winners at Laurel in 2015-2016 for a few of her clients. She communicates well with owners through social media which is an excellent skill-set to benefit our clients.

Jerry Zavala
Jerry Zavala

Jerry Zavala does everything there is to do at Country Life and Merryland, from handling stallions to carpentry to landscaping. Jerry is our go-to guy and has been since 2002.

Ellen Pons
Ellen Pons

Ellen Blackwell Pons captures the action on the two farms with her ever-ready camera.

Milan Milosevic
Milan Milosevic

Milan Milosevic has been galloping racehorses since 1991, and has been an exercise rider at Merryland since 2006. Among the trainers for whom he has galloped are Maryland stalwarts Michael Trombetta, Tim Tullock, the Capuanos, Mary Eppler, Ann Merryman, Robin Graham, and Dane Kobiskie. Also a licensed trainer (as is his wife, Sonja), Milan spent 6 years as an assistant to the late, great Dickie Small.

Patrick Randall
Patrick Randall

Patrick Randall has been exercising horses since he was 18, and started riding with us at Merryland in 2007. He started out on steeplechase and timber horses, before transitioning to the flat full-time. He's been mainly on the Maryland circuit, with brief stints at Canterbury Park and Remington Park as well. Among the top horses that Patrick has galloped, he cites Sweetnorthernsaint (Kentucky Derby favorite and 2nd place finisher in the Preakness) and the Grand National Timber Stakes winner Rosbrian.

Zack Stoorza
Zack Stoorza

Zack Stoorza started riding regularly at age 18, and had early experience helping break young horses on his parents' farm. He prepped 2-year-old sale prospects, and began exercising horses for trainer Franny Campitelli at Pimlico in 2006. He's ridden for other trainers like Cole Norman and Hugh McMahon, and was aboard Sagamore Farm's Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf winner Shared Account during her early training. He's been riding for us at Merryland since 2011. A Wisconsin native, Zack spends his free time bull-riding.

Maurilio, Nacho, Fabian, Gerardo, Armando, Armando, Jr., Jesus and Sergio return each year from Mexico to help us. They are all excellent horsemen and handle a wide-range of tasks on the farms. It's their hard work and tireless enthusiasm that allows Country Life and Merryland to provide the necessary care to get your horse from "beginning to winning".

**History

About Us: History

Grandfather Adolphe Pons and others
Adolphe Pons (center) with Man O' War's connections: Louis Feustel, trainer (left) & Joe Notter, Jockey.

Country Life Farm was founded in 1933 by Adolphe Pons, who as the "Turf Advisor" to August Belmont II handled the sale of Man O' War at the 1918 Saratoga Yearling Sale. Man O' War, of course, went on to win 20 of his 21 starts, including the classic Preakness and Belmont Stakes, and is generally considered to be one of the two best American Thoroughbreds to race during the 20th Century.

The great handicap horse Discovery carried Pons' silks as a 2-year-old in 1933, while the foundation broodmare Raise You was bred by Country Life in 1946. The cross of Discovery's grandson, Native Dancer, with Raise You produced the great progenitor, Raise a Native. As the sire of Mr. Prospector and Alydar, these two Country Life products appear in the pedigrees of the majority of modern Thoroughbreds.

John and Joe pic
John & Joe Pons

Following Adolphe's death in 1951, Country Life passed to his sons, John and Joe. John achieved prominence as two-time president of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, while Joe brought stallions such as Saggy (the sire of classic winner Carry Back) and Correspondent to stand at the historic Maryland nursery.

Following Adolphe's death in 1951, Country Life passed to his sons, John and Joe. John achieved prominence as two-time president of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, while Joe brought stallions such as Saggy (the sire of classic winner Carry Back) and Correspondent to stand at the historic Maryland nursery.

Josh Joe Mike at Saratogas
Josh, Joe, & Mike Pons in Saratoga.

Today, Joe's sons Josh and Mike run Country Life and Merryland (purchased in 2001). They were at the helm when two-time Eclipse Horse of the Year Cigar was foaled at Country Life on April 18, 1990, and were responsible for bringing Malibu Moon to stud in Maryland off of a single career victory. Cigar put together a win streak of 16 straight races from 1994 to 1996, including the Breeders' Cup Classic and Jockey Club Gold Cup. Meanwhile, Malibu Moon sired Eclipse Champion Two-Year-Old Declan's Moon in his second crop at Country Life and was subsequently moved to Kentucky. Still owned in part by Country Life, he stands at historic Spendthrift Farm and is a perennial leading sire of top runners like 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb.

Country Life has a long history of outstanding stallions (like that of Saggy below):
gallery opener
Click Picture for a Full Gallery of Some of These Stallions.