In the early years of the 20th century our world was transitioning from horses to cars. One century later an Island man has reversed that trend----moving from auto sales to horses. After a 25 year involvement in the Standardbred Industry, 47 year old Jamie MacKinley has become a major Maritime player. This new life has become so consuming that in 2015 he ended his eight years of selling Toyotas and added a stallion to his breeding operation.
Last year Double J Farm offered more yearlings for sale (12) than any other Maritime breeder. Jamie also had more stallions collecting at his farm (7) than any other station in the Region, mainly due to the AVC policy regarding the Covid pandemic. And despite reducing his broodmare band from 13 to 4 the farm still houses 22 head----only two being borders. He is a dedicated breeder of Maritime breds and innovative enough to try selling all his yearlings privately.
Jamie grew up on a potato farm in North River, PEI, son of the local MLA Ronnie MacKinley; But one of his favorite hangouts was the potato farm of Louis MacIsaac in Fairview, where he chummed with his son Terry (Bill Andrew's farm manager in Alberta) and their neighbor Darren Smith. Louis MacIsaac was not only into potatoes, he also loved standardbred horses and usually raised a yearling or two...his best being Maritime Champion Molzan p,4,1.52:4 ($398,696).
"Louis was like a second father for me" says Jamie, "taking me and the boys on many drives to PEI racetracks and horse farms". Over the years the senior MacIsaac raced many horses, early on with his cousin Francis MacIsaac, later Donnie MacDougall and others. Jamie also got the harness horse bug from living close to the Ronnie Gass Training Center in neighboring Cornwall.
As a youth, Jamie travelled the Maritimes showing cattle with the 4-H program. In his words "wherever there was an Exhibition there usually was a racetrack, and whenever possible, my cousin Jody Sanderson and I would scamper over to watch the races".
In 1997 Jamie, a fulltime farmer at 23, was ready to take the plunge despite what his father said---"you stay away from them horses. Have you not noticed the beat up pickups most of those guys drive"? But with partner Darren Smith in tow he hit the Auction Sales. After failing to land their chosen filly at Charlottetown it was off to Truro. At $1800 they had the final bid on the Paris Dexter filly Royalty Dexter. "Paris Dexter was my favorite horse, along with Worthy Gift, so one of his offspring was preferred" stated Jamie.
They raced the youngster at two and three, 14 lifetime starts for $1420. She did garner a second in ASS "B" action at two, enough to further whet his appetite.
In 2003 Jamie purchased Pan O War p,2,1.57:2f in foal to Matts Scooter. This 12 year old daughter of No Nukes would have four 2:00 credits from her first five foals. The
resulting stud colt was christened JJ Gamble and the game was on. This first product of Double J Farm was retained by Jamie and would enjoy modest success at three and four for Earl Smith, winning 5 of 20 starts with a speed badge of 1.58h before yielding to lameness.
Three more mares were added in 2004, including his great foundation broodmare Farline Hanover. He got her at the Harrisburg Mixed Sale for $8,000, in foal to Pro Bono Best. She would go on to produce 12 foals in the next 14 years for Jamie. Eleven went through the Island sales ring for about an $8,000 average, three selling for five figures.
The other Harrisburg purchase that year was Armbro Vow, a Presidential Ball mare in foal to Astreos. The resulting JJ Gladiator went through the Atlantic Classic Sale for $8,500 in 2005.
"He trained down nicely for the Belliveau family of Moncton before winning two of three Maritime starts. They then flipped him to Ben Wallace in Ontario for around $50,000," Jamie adds.
A life mark of 1.49:4f and purse earnings of $478,816 makes him the richest farm product ever.
Jamie frequently attended Harrisburg sales with former Islander Dr John Hennessey. The third mare obtained that fall was Jenn of Art (Jennas Beach Boy), one that Dr John had bred. She was claimed at Balmoral Park for $4,000 and Jamie would race her the next year with reinsmen Paul MacDonald and Walter Cheverie. Her first foal in 2007, to be renamed Ultimate Faith, sold for $12,500 at the Atlantic Classic.
From 2010 - 13 another seven mares came to join the Double J broodmare band. Fritzel Hanover (E Dees Cam) would give him 7 foals over 8 years, the best being JJ Tanner p,1.51:4f. This 7 year old by Articulator is still active at Northfield with a bankroll now exceeding $213,000. He sold for $10,500 at Crapaud, one of Jamie's nine yearlings to bring $10,000 or more at public auction.
Emblem Seelster p,2,1.59:3, a daughter of Western Maverick, only gave Jamie two foals but her last offspring JJ Mystic Storm still races. The Camystic 8 year old sports a 1.52 tab and life earnings around $140,000.
In the past 17 years, Double J Farm has been home to 20 broodmares that produced 82 foals, There have been 14 barren breedings (all 4 mares in 2007) and another 13 abortions or dead foals. Fifty-eight yearlings have passed through the Sales Rings, 56 in PEI and 2 at Truro, for an average price exceeding $6,300. Two nicely pedigreed products had been withdrawn from the 2013 Atlantic Classic and presumably were presold for better then average money. Three others were retained and two more met with serious pasture injuries that prevented selling. When one totals the 90 plus breedings from 2004 to 2018 the average return per breeding year hovers around $4,000 --- not leaving much room for profit.
In recent years Jamie has entered into the stud business. It started with Chasin Racin (The Panderosa) for the 2012 season, then Windfall Blue Chip (Art Major) in 2013, before landing Image of Dawn for the 2014 season.
This Stakes winning son of Life Sign with a purple pedigree would mate with 54 mares over five breeding seasons resulting in 43 foals, an unbelievable 80% conception rate. "I do all my own collecting and splitting of semen" says Jamie, "and use the best of equipment and supplies which I buy from California cheaper then I can here". But the Image of Dawn yearlings met a modest reception in the market place with only five fetching more than $8,000. JJ Superman at $11,500 was the tops, while Dawn's best offspring would be JJ Powerball p,4,1.53:2h ($81,868) who is presently racing for Austin Sorrie in Ontario. Another sparkling credit is Ubettimagoodone p,4,1.56h on a recent Flamboro win streak.
After breeding only four mares in 2018 nineteen year old Image of Dawn was gracefully retired. He will live out his remaining years on the farm.
Jamie brought in Hilarious Halo, a son of The Ponderosa, for the 2017 season but he drew only 12 mares that year. The resulting eight foals saw 5 of them start at two, led by the good stakes fillies JJ Talisa and Little Miss Ava. Both took sub 1.59 records and banked around $25,000 each. However, there are only three foals from his second crop for this summers stakes, making it difficult to gain real notoriety.
In 2018, after a few years of pursuit, Jamie was able to purchase Tobago Cays p,1.50f ($818,772). The son of Rock N Roll Hanover had bred for three seasons in Delaware but produced only 10 foals from live cover. Halo's first season in PEI attracted 29 mares, followed by 23 the following year. There are now 36 progeny on the ground with 23 two year olds training down this spring. His first season of breeding saw a 79% conception rate, something Jamie seems to be good at.
This year Boom Boom Ballykeel p,1.49:3 joins the stallion station, bringing nice outcross blood to the Region. An almost millionaire son of Mach Three --- remember SomeBeachSomeWhere ---he won the prestigious Metro Pace at two. It remains to be seen what this multi stakes winner will do for our Western Hanover line mares. Some feel we are breeding ourselves into a corner with many of our current studs descending from that latter named super sire.
This past year Jamie MacKinley turned another corner. He put all his 12 yearlings up for private sale by advertising on the Standardbred Canada Sales Board. "I had a price in mind, so when they called I said they had to come see them" explains Jamie. "Some potential buyers, after inspection at the Farm, took only a few minutes to finalize a price, while some others got back to me in 7 to 10 days". He feels this approach was a success, with the average pricing exceeding his previous experience at the Atlantic Classic. This approach allowed more time for the buyers to make up their mind..."less pressure then the three minute Sales Ring decision" he stated. "I plan to continue selling this way in future".
Over the past year, the Double J broodmare band has dropped from 13 to 4. Four mares were sold to other Island breeders, an older arthritic matron was humanely euthanized and a few younger ones moved on to the Amish. His much loved foundation mare Farline Hanover, now 22, was retired to patrol the pastures for however long she has left.
Farline's biggest claim to fame is Elle of N Xample p,149:2h ($316,439). This former- stakes winning filly for Clare MacDonald has now produced three foals in the US. Her first is Elleofadeli p,4,1.53:3h, a daughter of SomeBeachSomeWhere. Jamie had intended to buy back Elle of N Xample at the 2017 Harrisburg Sale. She was in foal to So Surreal, but the $15,000 closing price was a bit above his limit.
Farline Hanover has another four daughters producing foals in the Region. JJ Solara (Morah Kerr and Phonsie MacEachern) has 5 of her 7 foals in 1.58, JJ Tackoor (Barry MacLeod) sports 3 of her 4 foals in the 2.00 club, JJ Mistress (resident at Double J) shows her first two offspring better then 1.59 and JJ Maywest is delivering foals for Guy Turbide in the Magdalen Islands. Farline Hanover would be a good candidate for our Regional Hall of Fame, if we had one.
Unfortunately, Jamie's equine passion, while requiring many hours of labor each day (no hired man) does not guarantee a comfortable income. He now works with the Provincial Dept of Highways, plowing snow in winter and, more recently, has added line painting each summer. "I love working outside and have enough flexibility to personally handle all my farm chores" states Jamie. "It's important at this stage of life to be doing something you enjoy, and hopefully we can keep paying the bills".
It looks to an outsider that he is placing an increasing emphasis on his stallion business, while taking another "gamble" on the method of selling yearlings. He still has two of the 2019 youngsters at the farm, one injured and one jogging. He has carved out a half mile track on the property and does enjoy the breeze in his face. Horses may not make him rich, but he claims to be content. Drive on Double J!!!