Profile – Greg Tucker

A Family Tradition

Bob and Lauren Tucker’s son now runs the farm they operated

by Ken Weingartner

When he was in third grade, Greg Tucker was presented with the age-old classroom assignment asking what he wanted to be when he grew up.

That was easy. Greg knew exactly what he wanted to be. He wanted to be a farmer.

Greg’s response caused concern at school. His parents, Lauren and Bob Tucker, the owners of Stonegate Standardbred Farms, where the family lived and bred racehorses in northwestern New Jersey, were summoned for a meeting. Greg, it was suggested, was too focused for a third grader and should expand his horizons.

Over the ensuing 40 years, however, Greg’s focus remained unchanged. Farming, raising horses, and now maintaining the legacy of Stonegate Farms. It was not a question of what he wanted to be; it was always who he was.

“So,” he said with a laugh, “maybe I knew something.”

 

Stonegate Farms was founded in 1965 by Bob Tucker, who as a child on Long Island was introduced to the equine world through horse shows and riding camps. At Stonegate, Bob and Lauren bred and raced many top Standardbreds, and the farm’s success resulted in Bob’s induction to the Immortals of the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2021, five years after he passed away at the age of 90.

Among the Tuckers’ top horses were Classic Lane, the 2009 O’Brien Award winner as Canada’s best older female trotter; male pacer Landslide, who won 11 of 13 races at age two in 1981 and was syndicated as a stallion for $3.6 million; male pacer Ruffed Up, a Pennsylvania Sires Stakes champion; and female pacers Indulge Me and Ideal Nuggets, who were Grand Circuit winners.

The farm also stood top stallions at stud: the great Cam Fella along with Landslide, Dream Away, Albert Albert and Pacific Fella.

After Bob passed away, Lauren continued to operate Stonegate with assistance from Greg and his wife, Kim. In 2020, Lauren told the couple she was ready to retire. In March 2021, Greg and Kim officially took over from Lauren.

“This is all I’ve ever known,” Greg said. “Obviously, we all know the business is a little rough at times. But everyone we deal with or talk to is happy that we’re continuing. Hopefully, we can keep it going and just try to make my dad proud. It’s still kind of strange that he’s not here.”

 

Greg started helping around the farm at an early age and began owning broodmares with his father as a teenager.

“Ever since I was old enough, I was doing things here,” Greg said. “There was always something to do, and I like to work. I’m always doing something. My dad was the same way; he couldn’t sit still for too long. He was always doing something.”

Kim grew up not far from Stonegate Farm and got her first horse when she was eight years old. She rode English and worked in a hunter-jumper barn for more than a dozen years.

“I’ve always been a horse girl,” Kim said. “In and out of barns, helping teach summer camps; I did anything and everything I could to be on a horse my whole life since I could ride. I always showed the jumpers. I love the jumpers, and I trained jumpers for many years. That was always my thing.”

There was never any doubt in the couple’s minds that they would step up to take over Stonegate when the time arrived.

“We always said we wouldn’t let this place sit empty,” Kim said. “It was never a question. It happened a little sooner than we expected, so we had to make decisions a little faster than we were ready for, but we said let’s give it a try. Let’s go.”

Greg and Kim, who also works part-time as a vet tech at a nearby equine practice, purchased the farm’s nine broodmares and six yearlings. They also had a broodmare of their own, trotter Lady Ping, who was purchased in 2019 to replace Armbro Penelope, the dam of the $3 million winner All Bets Off, who was bred by Bob and Greg.

“If it was one Standardbred broodmare, or if we end up with 20, we wanted to keep what Bob would have wanted going,” Kim said. “He loved breeding and racing so much, and it was always a big part of this farm. We wanted to continue Bob Tucker’s legacy.”

 

The main farm at Stonegate covers 165 acres and features the Tucker family home, built in 1736, as well as the facilities for the farm’s horses, including a group of retired broodmares and retired racehorses. Ruffed Up, the farm’s “mascot,” still resides there, as well as 21-year-old Spirit Of The West p,4,1:51.4s ($142,241), Lauren’s favorite mare.

A second 180-acre property that previously was used for the farm’s yearlings now produces hay and straw. Greg and Kim live several miles from Stonegate and have 147 acres, which are also home to 40 Angus cows and row crops.

“I’ve been making all the hay and straw for all the farms since 1990,” said Greg, who also rents several other farms. “That helps us keep our costs lower, but I also have a business selling and delivering hay and straw. We’re always busy.”

Stonegate Farm is situated in Hunterdon County, one of New Jersey’s most heavily populated equine areas, but most of the horses are not Standardbreds. Given Kim’s background, the couple has opened the farm to other breeds, whether for breeding, foaling, boarding, turnouts or layups.

“In this area, there are not a lot of farms that are breeding-and-foaling oriented, so for us it’s kind of a little niche,” Greg said.

“There are probably 20 to 25 non-Standardbreds on the farm and the rest [of the 60 total] are ours,” Kim said. “I have people calling me all the time wanting to come here to foal out. Foal out and get rebred and go back home. I’d love to do more of that. The business has grown exponentially the last year, and it’s all been word of mouth.”

Kim handles the foaling duties, with help from 10-year-old daughter Peyton. The couple’s children—17-year-old Anthony, Peyton, and 8-year-old Ryan—all are active in the daily life of the farm’s equine occupants.

“The kids help with everything,” Kim said. “They lead babies, they lead the mares. They love it. Peyton has probably helped foal 90 percent of the babies. She could probably foal a mare out from start to finish by herself. She knows everything to do it.”

The children, who give all the foals their “farm names,” also enjoy bringing the yearlings to the Standardbred Horse Sale in Pennsylvania and telling prospective buyers about their horses. Last fall, Stonegate sold seven yearlings, led by the Walner-sired Wal Street Lady, out of Lady Ping, for $100,000.

“We’re very appreciative that we had a great sale in November,” Kim said. “This is a lot of work, but I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”

 

Stonegate Farm ceased its racing operation in 2017 when Ideal Nuggets, now one of the farm’s broodmares, retired. The Tuckers’ racehorses were trained for more than four decades by Ed Lohmeyer, who remains an appreciated resource to Greg and Kim.

“We still call Eddie when we have questions,” Kim said. “We still bounce things off of him. He’s great. He always answers our questions and has been very helpful in this process.

“We would like to get back into the racing scene in some capacity, for sure, in the next couple of years. We have to kind of build up to that point to be able to gamble with that sort of expenditure.”

Between all the Tuckers’ work activities, plus their kids’ athletic endeavors, there is little time for anything else. But Greg is OK with that.

“We’ll do whatever people need,” he said. “We just want to continue and see where this takes us and enjoy it.” HB

 

Ken Weingartner is the USTA media relations manager. To comment on this story, email us at readerforum@ustrotting.com.

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