Though his home is on the farm, Bulmahn was speaking from Lexington, Kentucky, where he recently spent $1.3 million on well-bred yearling Thoroughbreds at the Keeneland sales. He remained in town to work on a movie project that he’s producing, featuring the three living jockeys who won the Triple Crown: Ron Turcotte (Secretariat, 1973), Jean Cruguet (Seattle Slew, 1977), and Steve Cauthen (Affirmed, 1978).
“I am just thrilled to move forward with this,” he said enthusiastically. “To bring them all together in the same room was a thrill, and I think the public will really enjoy seeing them bantering with each other, learning about each of their lives and what contributed to their success.”
Calling the three men “ambassadors of the sport,” Bulmahn hopes that movie will showcase the positive elements of a sport that is often depicted negatively in mainstream media.
“Just as in other sports, drugs are used by people to try to gain an advantage, and horses don’t need that,” he said energetically. “They don’t need to be medicated the way some of the bad apples have been doing.
“We don’t hear enough about the magnificent horses, or the incredible athletes that ride them—pound for pound, jockeys are some of the greatest athletes in the world.”
And as if running a top-class racing operation and producing a movie weren’t enough to keep him busy, Bulmahn brought his energy interests to the farm, experimenting with a way to dispose of the horses’ manure in a way that produces energy for his farm and the Florida grid.
“When you have 160 stalls on a farm,” he said, somewhat delicately, “you have a lot of muck.”
“You can’t just pile it up on land, because it can leach into underground aquifers and reservoirs, and if you haul it off, the transportation costs are great,” he continued.
After a failed experiment with incinerating the manure, his company Planet Green Solutions designed a biomass reactor to disintegrate the “hockey pucks” of waste, as he called them, catching the gas and releasing it into a turbine generator that creates electricity placed directly into the Florida grid. He hopes the product will be available commercially in about six months, and he expects to market it to farms and to racetracks.
This weekend, Bulmahn will be in New York to watch Cross Traffic try to become only the sixth horse since 1928 to win both the Whitney and the Jockey Club Gold Cup. The field is a salty one, but Bulmahn is optimistic.
“I feel pretty good about his chances,” he said. “If he runs a race like he did in the Whitney, he’ll be right there at the end.”
That optimism pervades Bulmahn’s outlook, on his horses, on his farm, on energy development, and on the sport that has become such a big part of his life.
“It is a source of dismay to me that people seem to focus on negatives,” he said. “I really believe in trying to find ways to be more positive about this beautiful sport.”
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