Saturday, January 16, 2010 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . January 16, 2010 . . . Gaffney Station went into the record books Saturday not only as the first career winner for trainer/owner William Branden Bingham and co-owner Ronald Scott Fairchild but also as the first starter for both. With Ben Creed aboard, the five-year-old mare led at every call in Turfway Park's first race and drew off to a 5 3/4 length win in the 1-1/16-mile event for $5,000 claimers.
The pair purchased Gaffney Station privately from Dale Loveland about six weeks ago. She is the first racehorse either has owned.
Bingham, 29, grew up in Lexington watching races with his grandparents at The Red Mile and Keeneland. "As far back as I can remember, I remember being at Keeneland and being amazed at the horses. As long as I can remember, horses have been what I wanted to do. Today was exciting because I finally got to do it—my horse, in my name. It's been a very exciting day."
Bingham started working at Lexington’s Thoroughbred Training Center as a hotwalker even before he could drive. "Before I got my driver’s license, my grandfather would take me to the training center before school every morning," he said. Eventually he started grooming horses and working as an exercise rider.
Bingham continued working with horses through high school and college. He graduated from the University of Kentucky with a bachelor's degree in biology, and his minor in equine science took him to stints at area farms, including Vinery. He later worked about two years for John Glenney, grooming horses and overseeing the barn in Glenney's absence. He then moved to the barn of Phil Sims for about 18 months, including a year as Sims’s assistant.
"I spent about eight years really focusing on how to get the best from a horse," said Bingham. "You want them to be happy, to be comfortable. You want them to like doing what they're doing. It's like anybody with a job—if you like doing it, you try harder. If they're happy, they'll like running."
Bingham's wife had graduated from high school with Scott Fairchild, and during a visit to her family home in Paintsville, Ky., before Christmas last year, Bingham and Fairchild connected. "It came together quickly," Bingham said. "Scott was wanting to get into the business and I was ready to go out on my own. We got a good price on Gaffney Station and that was it."
Fairchild, a shop foreman for a gas and oil company in southeastern Kentucky, had been handicapping for about a dozen years before taking the leap as an owner. "With the economy down, the prices were good, so it seemed like a good time to give it a shot," he said.
In addition to his share of Gaffney Station, Fairchild's Change of Pace LLC also owns two three-year-olds purchased at the recent Keeneland January sale, the filly Turbo Justice and the gelding Storm Turtle. Bingham is the trainer for both.