Alumni Profile: Patricia Purdy '78
From a childhood love of horses to a commercial horse breeder, Patricia Purdy ’78, has successfully combined her passion for horses and a fulfilling career. Today, she operates Ivy League Farm in Ithaca, NY, where she breeds and raises thoroughbred race horses.
Purdy has had many honors including being named New York State Breeder of the Year in 2002, but none more exciting than having her horse, Sharp Humor, in last year’s Kentucky Derby.
“That was the pinnacle of my career,” says Purdy. “We knew early on that Sharp Humor had what it took to be a great race horse. Five weeks earlier, he had placed second in the Florida Derby, just a half-length behind Barbaro. It was a thrill to watch him run.”
Born in Detroit and raised in Grosse Pointe Shores, Purdy always loved horses. She began riding competitively at the age of 12, and when she was 16, her parents bought her a thoroughbred mare. She attended Mercy College and graduated with a degree in retailing and business. Then, she decided to pursue a career in dentistry and enrolled in dental school at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
That’s where she met her husband, Chris. When they graduated in 1986, they moved to Ithaca, Chris’ hometown, and he joined his father’s dental practice. They also bought their farm, and Patty, who decided not to practice dentistry, began breeding and racing horses. She still has her first race horse, Spirits of Annie, who is now retired.
Purdy usually has 30 to 35 horses on the farm; half are breeding mares and the other half are their offspring, called foals. Each year, the weaned foals, yearlings and 2-year-old horses are sold to race horse buyers at auction or through private sales. Students from Cornell University veterinary school have an opportunity to learn about horse breeding first hand as Purdy maintains a working relationship with the school, which is located six miles from the farm,
“Chris shares my enthusiasm for horses and we are both very hands-on in terms of working on the farm. He vaccinates the horses, and I care for and train them on a daily basis; together we deliver the foals. It’s a ton of work, but we love what we do,” says Purdy.