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Q&A with Braxton Jones Lynch '90

Braxton Jones Lynch ’90, a founding partner and racing manager at BBN Racing, owns and operates Royal Oak Farm in Paris, Kentucky, with her husband and operates Christiana Stables in Delaware with her mother. She attended Tower Hill kindergarten through ninth grade before attending Middlesex School for boarding school and Trinity College, where she played field hockey, lacrosse and squash. Lynch currently serves as the president of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association. In May 2021, she and the BBN Racing team had a horse, Hidden Stash, compete in the Kentucky Derby.

How did you get involved in the thoroughbred business?
My family has been involved in racing for a long time. My grandparents, Harry and Jane Lunger, were based in Wilmington, Delaware, and they started in the racing business in 1937. So I grew up in the business; my parents have been involved in racing as well. It’s just something I always knew I wanted to do. We grew up in Pennsylvania, and I rode horses from a very young age and have always been connected to horses.  I wanted to find a business that I could pursue that involved horses and horse racing. Upon graduation from college I moved to Kentucky to work in the thoroughbred business.  I’ve been here for 27 years, working in the industry in many different aspects and for the last 20 years my husband and I have had our own thoroughbred breeding farm, Royal Oak Farm.

What was it like having a horse run in the Kentucky Derby?
It was an amazing experience. It’s something that everybody in this industry has in the back of their mind, kind of knowing that it will never happen, but it’s sort of that far-off dream that everybody has. As it started to become a reality, I didn’t let myself believe that we were actually going to get there until we got there. A couple days before I was like, “Okay, we’re actually going to do this.” It was just a terrific experience. The trainer of the horse, Vicki Oliver, is one of my best friends, and we grew up together in the horse industry and to be able to share it with her and all of our BBN partners, it was really just incredible. We tried to absorb every part of it during the day and enjoy it.

Since starting BBN just over three years ago, we’ve bought 15 horses, and two of them have made it to the elite level, which is more than we ever could have hoped for. The horse that ran in the Derby is Hidden Stash, and we bought him for $50,000 as a yearling, a 1-year-old, and we’ve had a lot of fun with him through his 2-year-old year and through the spring Derby prep races and, of course, to the Kentucky Derby.  Hopefully he’ll turn into a really good 3-year-old later this year and an even better 4-year-old next year.

What’s a typical day like for you?
I wear two hats with Royal Oak Farm and BBN Racing, but 90% of my time is Royal Oak Farm. We have 300 acres, and, depending on the time of year, we are either foaling mares and then taking them to breeding sheds, or we are prepping yearlings for horse sales and selling horses at all the major thoroughbred auctions, most of which are based in Kentucky.  I also manage BBN Racing, a fractional racing syndicate, so that involves talking with our trainers and communicating with our syndicate partners.  I help accommodate our partners with seats at the race and morning visits to watch the horses train.  It’s been a really fun and rewarding syndicate so far.  

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love working with horses and being outside. It’s been great to live on a farm and raise our own children in a farm atmosphere, in the country.  BBN Racing has allowed me to attend the races throughout the country, which is always fun.

What do you enjoy outside of work?
I’m still involved in lacrosse. I coach my daughter’s middle school team, so that’s been really fun. During the summers we like to go to any number of lakes around Kentucky and take the kids out and do some wakesurfing and all kinds of water activities.

What was your experience like at Tower Hill?
It was terrific. It was the foundation of a great education, and my classmates were great people to grow up with. I still connect with a lot of the people I grew up with. Tower Hill really set me up for being a team player, a leader, and being an all around motivator. I think my coaches — we had some terrific coaches — really set me up for success in athletics at Middlesex and at Trinity College. And all those experiences helped me become the person I am today.  It instilled in me a high level of integrity, leadership, and communication which I have used to develop my businesses in the thoroughbred industry.

Who were some of your favorite teachers or coaches?
My favorite coach was Ms. Richardson. She was definitely a great inspiration to me, and I still have fond memories of her as I’m coaching middle school lacrosse in Kentucky. She was a terrific person, and she certainly knew how to get the most out of every player. She challenged us, for sure. As a ninth grade varsity player in field hockey and lacrosse, I remember certain challenges that she laid out for us.  She developed us into skillful competitors and we had several successful seasons.