By Chantalle Edmunds | The Loudoun Times-Mirror
The Middleburg Training Track, a long sought-after facility in the Loudoun equine community, is being fully revamped in a multi-million dollar overhaul.
The property’s new owner, Chuck Kuhn, the founder and CEO of JK Movers, recently purchased the 150-acre property for $1.5 million from the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.
The facility had fallen into disrepair in recent years.
“It was once a real icon of the community. It was a sought-after track,” Kuhn said in an interview with the Times-Mirror. “It’s a big undertaking – the acquisition is costly and it’s time-consuming.”
But Kuhn is dedicated to the project and says his team is already making progress on the refurbishing. Work on restoring the racing track is slated to be completed by the end of this week.
“The track is back to being safe and healthy. Next we will be replacing the rail with the best in class and one that is safe for riders,” Kuhn said.
Next up will be barn renovations, with plans to expand the facilities and acquire additional property near by.
Kuhn estimated he will spend an additional $2 million dollars on the facility over the next year.
The Middleburg Training Track holds a storied history. Once owned by Paul Mellon, the late Upperville philanthropist and horseman, its next owner Randy Rouse donated the track to the Thoroughbred Retirement Fund (TRF).
In need of capital, the TRF decided to put the track on the market with an asking price of $3.5 million.
Fifty-two-year-old Kuhn, who set up Sterling-based JK Moving Services more than three decades ago, also runs a relocation service called CapRelo. Living on a 740-acre farm in Purcellville and an owner of two other farms in Virginia where cattle are raised, Kuhn has a familiarity with the rural and equine economy.
Kuhn is not an equestrian himself, but his son Steve, who has an interest in horses, will manage the track.
Kuhn’s initial motivation for buying the facility was out of a desire to protect the space from development.
“I wanted to protect the open space, to put the land in conservation forever. The land has been placed in easement, which protects it from developments,” Kuhn said.
There were a few challenges to overcome before Kuhn could purchase the property, however – namely removing 23 people who were living at the track and were either delinquent tenants or squatters.
Kuhn said it was a contingency of the sale that “any undesirables” be evicted beforehand.
“Our original desire had been the desire to protect the open space,” Kuhn said. After he bought the property, he met with the Virginia Equine Alliance, which he said was extremely helpful and supportive in working to revitalize the track.
“I made a commitment to come and invest in the track, to renovate and expand the property,: Kuhn added.
There are currently eight tenant trainers with 72 horses being boarded at the center. The training track has a total of 220 stalls and, according to Kuhn, there is room to build an additional 100 stalls.
Kuhn also hopes the track will appeal to hunters, the polo community and three-day eventers.
The equine industry has long been a valuable asset for the county. The latest Loudoun County Equine Survey estimates the equine industry has a local economic impact of $180 million, including supporting 2,738 jobs.