It’s a frosty morning at Three Pines Farm in the Worthington Valley in Maryland, and the view is magnificent as you look across the gently rolling land that comprises the roughly 76-acre breeding farm.
Nineteen horses are spread around a bevy of paddocks that hold 10 broodmares, eight weanlings and a yearling colt, who turned 2 Jan. 1.
It is a sight small-animal veterinarians Drs. A. Leonard Pineau Jr. and his wife, Patricia, dreamed of from the time they were married 45 years ago. Over the decades since, they’ve worked to build their broodmare dream into a successful – and unusual – business.
From the intricate research on matching mares to stallions, putting the “puzzle pieces” together with endless reading, old-school guile and gut feelings, to avoiding fame, attention and lavish financial statistics, their goal has been simple: “We love creating the broodmare.” It’s a singular focus that sets the Pineaus – and their farm – apart.
A cozy spot
Entering the Pineau farm requires a short drive through a wood, as the last leaves of winter continue to fall and cover the drive with their late autumn cacophony of color, until you break out on a short hill and see the nine-stall barn to the left and a comfortable home at the bottom of the drive.
The fields and horses spread out like a painted landscape between the two buildings.
There is no escaping the landscape, even from within. Once you enter the Pineau home, and walk into their cozy living room that opens to the kitchen and a bank of windows along two walls, the view is there ready to be enjoyed.
“We love to walk out in the morning and see every one of our horses out there where they’re supposed to be,” Pat says.
Horses, the Pineaus have loved them since childhood – he growing up with his horse-owner father, Leonard Sr., here in Maryland, where he also was part of what was known as the McDonogh School Calvary; and she, while growing up “horse crazy” in England, when she would spend her free time with the local blacksmith.
“I was crazy about horses,” Pat Pineau told Maryland Horse writer Snowden Carter in 1981 and repeated recently. “I used to sit on the fence and gaze away at the horses owned by a neighbor. After doing that one afternoon, I told my parents I was going to become a vet.”
A continent away, Lenny was making a similar decision. But both eventually decided to make a change. In England, after graduating from Bristol University, she decided to become a small-animal veterinarian and pursued that with study in the United States.
Lenny, however, was still studying for a career as a large-animal vet, so he could care for horses.
What happened, you may wonder? The romantic part of the story is that once Lenny met Pat on an elevator at the University of Pennsylvania’s veterinary college, he was so smitten, he simply decided to change his focus so they could work together.
“The truth,” he says. “My senior year, I was already thinking about lifestyle issues. Being a big-animal vet would have required a 24-7 commitment. With small animals, there are emergency veterinary centers that allow you to date and have a family.”
But, he admits, meeting Pat clinched the decision. Three years later, in 1976, they married, after she had earned a master’s degree in immunology and spent 18 months back home in England; and he’d graduated from vet school and had gone to work at Aardmore Veterinary Hospital in Baltimore.
Soon they bought the veterinary practice, which they’ve turned into a successful 5,000-client business, bought a farm they turned into a broodmare business and raised three children – none of whom, however, caught the horse bug in a serious way.
These days, Pat, 72 and a week older than her husband, is retired from the practice and is enjoying being a grandmother and spending her free time in her many flower gardens, which also can be seen thriving, even in winter, outside their many windows.
Lenny, however, continues their vet practice and the two of them personally take care of their horses on Sundays.
“Good help is hard to find,” Pat says. “But last February, we found a wonderful man, Darren Carder, who is our farm manager. He works Monday through Saturday and we take care of the horses on Sunday.”
Carder, who moved to Maryland from Tennessee with his fiancée Lauren Shook who wanted to return to her Baltimore roots, came to work for the Pineaus in February 2021.
“It’s a funny story,” Carder says. “My fiancée works for the Pineaus at the Aardmore Veterinary office and I was leaving Green Spring Valley Hunt Club and looking for a job in the racehorse industry. Lauren was talking to Dr. Pineau about it at work and he said, ‘Well, I have a position open. Tell him to come by for an interview.’ I did and I’ve been here ever since.”
At Green Spring, Carder was a kennel man who took care of the hounds and horses and rode whip for them at times, but wasn’t getting the kind of hands-on horse experience he was looking for.
Now with the Pineaus he is getting every hands-on experience he could hope for. Taking care of the overall property and the daily horse husbandry – feeding, watering, stall work – is routine.
But he also ships out some of the horses for training and after sales. And he trains those weanlings and preps them and the yearlings for sale.
“I’m a firm believer that as soon as a baby hits the ground you start their training,” says Carder, who learned the practice from Pineau. “The first five days are so important. Thoroughbreds are different kinds of horses. They’re born for hysteria. That’s just the way they are. They’re wonderful animals, but if they do not get that human interaction within the first five days of life, they can become feral and not want to be around humans. So I start that process. And then at the end of the foaling season, after they are weaned, I start their training all over. They’ll come into the barn every day, get groomed, feet picked up, learn how to take a bit in their mouth. How to stand up and be quiet. How to stand for the vet . . .”
If the Pineaus are happy with his work at Three Pines Farm, Carder couldn’t be happier to be working for them. He says Dr. Pineau teaches him something new every day and he is fascinated by how the breeder goes about matching his mares with stallions at breeding time.
“Dr. Pineau is absolutely wonderful at pairing his mares with stallions and through the lineages,” Carder says. “He looks at everything and I’ve been learning from him. Most definitely. Learning what to look for while pairing these mares with stallions and what the end result is going to be. It’s tremendous. It’s wonderful.
“There are so many moving parts. He’ll say, ‘I’m looking for this for this mare.’ And I’ll say, ‘Why didn’t you look for that with that other one?’ And he’ll say, ‘Well, it wasn’t that important.’ There’s a lot of different puzzle pieces, that’s for sure.”
Carder’s southern voice is full of happiness. He says he will never leave the Thoroughbred industry now.
“There is nothing more satisfying than being able to see yearlings or weanlings you’ve produced grow up to be racehorses – and win,” he says.
From pinhooking to broodmare creator
Working as a small animal vet, taking care of everything from cats and dogs to rabbits, snakes and parrots, Lenny and Pat Pineau still dreamed of somehow being involved in the Thoroughbred industry.
Lenny, of course, came by it naturally. His dad, Arthur, was a Thoroughbred owner in Maryland for more than 40 years. As a boy, Lenny would go to the track with his dad to watch the horses run every Saturday – or any other day he was off from school.
In the end, the industry and learning all about the Thoroughbreds’ personal traits and abilities became his biggest passion.
His first effort to find a way into the industry was as a pinhooker, someone who picks out good horses for others to buy later. It is more work than one might think. A pinhooker has to know breeding, bloodlines and racing results – not to mention marketability.
For several years he worked that job as “an imaginary job,” he says.
He’d pick a horse he liked based on what he learned in the Daily Racing Form and in sales catalogs. While never actually buying a horse, he’d watch his selections for the next couple years to see how they did.
He is obviously a patient man.
But in 1976, at age 27, having set aside some money for the purpose, he went to the Keeneland horse sales and bought two yearlings in his and his wife’s name and in the names of his parents. He sold them the next year at the Timonium 2-year-old training sale and more than doubled his money.
He got braver as time went on. Two years later, in 1978, he spent $60,000 on yearlings at Keeneland and sold them a year later at Hialeah for $150,000. He did all this before the Pineaus even had a farm.
In 1979, they bought this rare piece of property on Worthington Avenue, adjacent to the famous Sagamore Farm that Native Dancer, Discovery and Bed o’ Roses called home. The Pineaus built their home there and named it Three Pines Farm, combining their lucky number and the first four letters of their last name.
And, while their farm’s name or even their formal racing name, Triple Tree Stable, may not be as famous as some of its neighbors – they don’t even have the farm’s name on a sign on their driveway.
“It’s not a commercial farm,” Lenny says. “It’s our home.” Still, it has had an impressive share of success.
It started when he began to work as a pinhooker for real in 1981, putting together one of the industry’s earliest partnerships and found he could offer his partners his expertise to provide a balanced portfolio. It was a way to invite new people into racing and also, when the horses were sold or made “significant money” at the track, a way to build his business.
Now, of course, the partnerships are history and the only horses on the property belong to the Pineaus, except for a few whose ownership is shared with their trainer Mary Eppler.
The broodmare Wood Not has been a resident since 2006 and has been busy. So far, she has produced 12 foals – nine starters of which six have won, four are stakes horses and combined they have earned $1.11 million, led by graded stakes winner Purely Hot, who later sold for $1.2 million.
Last year was supposed to be Wood Not’s final year in the breeding shed, but her foal had an easy delivery and Wood Not is known “for how much she loves her babies,” says Carder, the farm manager.
Wood Not, 21, is in foal to World of Trouble. Pineau bred a mare to that stallion in 2020 and was impressed by the foal and decided to use the stallion again, but this time with Wood Not, the farm’s longest resident.
“Wood Not always surprises me,” Pineau says. “She doesn’t look her age and I don’t know if this year will be her last breeding season or not. I guess I’ll breed her until she tells me not to.”
Purely Hot has gone on to be the dam of Grade 1 winner Eight Rings. Eight Rings is named for New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and his eight Super Bowl rings (two with the New York Giants), and finished fourth in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile-G1.
It seems Wood Not’s offspring like football, as another of her foals is named T Sizzle, for retired Baltimore Ravens’ great Terrell Suggs.
In 2020, the Pineaus were the breeders of 2-year-old Maryland-bred champion Jaxon Traveler, mating the stallion Munnings with their broodmare Listen Boy; and 2-year-old graded stakes-placed After Five, the result of pairing The Factor with Idle Talk.
Overall, they’ve bred or raced more than 20 stakes horses, including Ten Out of Ten and Music City. And, of the 152 named Maryland-breds they’ve created, 106 have been winners.
But Lenny Pineau can’t tell you which of his weanlings or yearlings have sold for the highest price. He can tell you that mares he has bought and resold have produced more than 20 stakes quality horses. And, he does remember one mare he claimed for less than $25,000 was bought back by its original owner for $250,000.
“But I’m not interested in bragging rights,” he says. “I just love horses and the industry. I love the research. I’m constantly looking for mares and evaluating stallions and their ability to produce and figuring out how they cross with the mares I have.”
Among the mares the Pineaus share with Eppler is Idle Talk, whose son After Five was in the Breeders’ Cup as a 2-year-old in 2020.
“Mary is a close friend and she’s trained for us for many years,” Pineau says. “She trained Idle Talk, who won over $300,000 and is a stakes winner.”
A 50-50 partnership
The Pineaus and Eppler split all their investments together 50-50. Eppler thinks one of the best horses the partnership has owned was Ragtime Doll, a mare she trained and owned half of before the Pineaus bought the other half.
Over Ragtime Doll’s racing career, she was a stakes winner who won five times in 22 starts, collecting $129,665. As a broodmare, she produced 11 foals; 10 started, all won. Through their combined careers, those starters earned $1.27 million.
They also share partnerships in Factor-in-theheat and Truly Hot. The Pineaus bred and raced the latter, a daughter of Pollard’s Vision and Wood Not, lost her via a $10,000 claim in March 2018, claimed her back with Eppler for $7,500 that August and are hoping for her first foal this year after breeding her to champion Accelerate.
“We’ve had a great relationship,” Eppler says. “We trust each other.”
Pineau remembers first seeing Eppler as an exercise rider and Eppler remembers their first contact came in 1992, when Pineau called to ask her if she could transport a horse back to Maryland from the Meadowlands.
“I had a horse running there and he had one of his there that he wanted brought back and I could help him, so I did,” she says.
Things progressed from there. Eppler was able to help him buy a mare named Lip Sing in 1993, and some time after that, they did meet and she started training some of the mares he was claiming.
“He’s really into the broodmare and into making broodmares,” she says. “It’s unusual. He’d claim a lot of horses. I did a lot of that [putting the claims in] for him. Normally, he’d like to see if he could get a return for the money. He’d let me run them or back then, when the claiming rules were totally different, if they were not suitable for running, he’d make them broodmares.”
Eppler says unlike many breeders, Pineau is very much into creating broodmares, not buying those who already have their reputations made. She says that, too, is an unusual approach.
“He’s had a lot of success that way,” she says. “There are a lot of ways to do it. Sometimes he may keep them and run them a couple times in establishing a mare’s worth as a broodmare and [then] putting them in a sale with a good reputation. Or, he keeps them and just sells their babies. Or, he keeps them and runs the babies.
“I’ve had a lot of success with some of his horses, those he’s claimed and those he’s bred,” she continued. “I believe the reason he’s had such success is purely the way he does his research.”
When asked, Eppler says she doesn’t think his success has much to do with Pineau being a vet, though she says he’s a wonderful small-animal vet who treats her small dog and cat. “But, I really believe it’s about the research work he puts in.”
“I love creating [the broodmare],” says Pineau. “The marketability of the mares that are new and recently in foal are now more valuable than those with good past product history. That’s because the future is in front of you . . . It’s like drafting football players. Their futures are ahead of them.”
There aren’t many farms like his. He isn’t interested in marketing a stallion by building its reputation. His goal is “to try to maximize the value of the foal – with its pedigree, race record and the racing ability of the mare. I’m always looking for something marketable and a good buy.”
Pineau spends time every day doing his research, looking at the Racing Form, sales catalogs, Equibase, Equineline, anything he can find as a source of information about horses he is interested in.
“Every day I’m involved in the horse industry,” he says. “Online or on the phone, it’s my main passion and my main hobby, though I also like snowboarding. My wife says I never run out of energy.”
Especially when that extra energy is being directed toward his horses.
“My goal is the same as ever,” Pineau says. “To continue to breed the best horses I can, to market them and race."