Payton Training Center: Where Horses Learn to Become Champions

Ocala is known not only for its beautiful horses and farms. Ocala is known for producing horses who often, as Joan Pletcher says, “Outrun their pedigrees.”

J.J. Pletcher and his wife Joan moved to Ocala in 1985 to continue training thoroughbreds and Joan has built a successful real estate company specializing in equestrian estates, Ocala horse farms and major parcels of land.

Payton training center is where horses first learn to be champions, according to Brock Sheridan, Editor-in-Chief of ‘The Florida horse’ magazine

It was 1996 where he was at a cross roads, the patron who brought him to Florida died. His son, Todd had worked for Wayne Lucas for seven years and at was urged by J.J. to set up a barn of his own. J.J. advised, “You gotta have young horses in this game, you gotta have them coming in every year.” The birth of a training center began.

Payton Training center is a private training facility located in beautiful SW Ocala with 96 thoroughbred stables. They’ve produced winning thoroughbreds since. PTC was named after J.J.’s first grandson, Payton, who was born the year after the training center was built. Pletcher chuckles and says, “At the time we thought he would be our only grandchild, but we’ve since been blessed with two more who have asked why they don’t have a training center named after them.”

Many thoroughbreds trained here have gone on to become stakes winners. Notable grade 1 runners include Victory Ride, Morethanready, Left Bank, English Channel and Neolithic.

Magnum Moon a contender in the 2018 Kentucky Derby spent over eight months at J.J. Pletcher’s Payton Training Center where, according to Brock Sheridan, Editor in Chief of “The Florida Horse” magazine said, “this is where they first learn to be champions.”

PTC trains horses by invitation and many are trained for Todd who lives in Belmont, NY. They head south to Florida when winter approaches. Joan adds, “it’s something about the dirt and weather that gets them ready and they perform well.”

One of J.J’s early choices for Todd was Rare Rock who made enough in earnings to purchase the property where J.J. and Joan now live. Rare Rock, now retired, lives on a paddock at their home. “You take car of those who take care of you. He took care of me, now I take care of him.”

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