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Galway Downs gets new owner, old name

From the Newstrader - January 20th, 2011 - General News
Robert Kellerhouse
Robert Kellerhouse (Amy McCool photo)

TEMECULA – Robert Kellerhouse has witnessed many changes over his 13 years directing the sprawling, 240-acre Galway Downs Equestrian Center. His favorite may have been a change in ownership last November when local businessman Ken Smith purchased the facility.

“It’s very exciting.” Kellerhouse said of the transaction. “For such a long time, we’ve been living on literally an annual sort of a basis here — going year-to-year. Now, we’ll be able start making real plans to have real expansion of the equestrian operation.”

The property, located at 38801 Los Corralitos Road off of Highway 79, has a storied history in the region dating back to its inception in 1968 when it was called the Rancho California Track and Training Center. It became known as Galway Downs until it was purchased six years ago by Los Angeles-based developer Namco Capital Group and renamed the Southern California Equestrian Center. East West Bancorp Inc. of Pasadena repossessed the center from Namco early this year.

Smith, who obtained the property from foreclosure for a reported $4.075 million, owns a successful food distribution company, Southwest Traders, that serves 20 Western states.

Now Kellerhouse has an inspired list of imminent changes at the region’s largest equestrian center including 15 additional acres of pasture, expanded permanent boarding facilities and two new sand arenas (to join the existing nine sand and two 200 x 300 grass arenas). An area also will be built to suit recreational soccer fields, a commerce-driven use that Kellerhouse says will have no negative impact on the equestrian side of things.


But the key change? The name, he says.

“It’s Galway Downs again,” said Kellerhouse, who has served as Director of the facility through two owners and four ownership groups since 1997. “The new owner cares about the history behind the name. And he cared about the value that this place has held in our equestrian community. He really values that future going forward and wants to be sure that he can create this property so that it prospers in what it does without becoming a housing development. That is a quantum leap.”

The line-up of 2011 Galway Downs events has a diverse look, ranging from last week’s Southern California Equestrian Hunter-Jumper Show to Quarter Horse, Paint Horse and Friesian breed events later in the year –- as well as the world-class eventing series that begins April 1-3 with the Galway Downs International Horse Trials.

“We want to expand the breed shows, we want to expand the sport horse shows, we want to expand the Quarter Horse shows,” Kellerhouse said. “There are things that are going on that we couldn’t do before because we didn’t have a real future – we didn’t know what was going to happen.”

Change of ownership has resulted in a change of outlook.

“Now, to be able to think about our future beyond one year is crazy-exciting because you can start making real plans to have real expansion of the equestrian operation. A little show organizer wants to come in and run a show here and we can talk about the next three years as opposed to, `let’s get your show in this year.’ I do want people to know that we will be really looking forward to expanding the number of quality shows that go on here, rather they be club-driven or professionally driven in the coming years. I think that, coupled with the race horse and sport horse industry taking up permanent residence here, it’s going to be huge to our consistent ability to grow.”

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