Through the years, Virginia Kraft Payson has tracked and bagged wild game in Africa, piloted hot air balloons, competed in international sport fishing competitions, and endured a 75-mile sled dog competition in Alaska.
Payson also has become one of the industry's most respected owners and breeders. In 2002, a pair of horses bred by her Payson Stud, Vindication and Farda Amiga, captured Eclipse Awards as champion two-year-old male and champion three-year-old filly, respectively.
Payson was a writer for Sports Illustrated in the early days of the magazine in the 1950s and '60s, traveling to exotic locales and writing about her experiences in adventure sports such as hunting, fishing, and scuba diving.
She became involved in the Thoroughbred industry after marrying Charles Shipman Payson, a widower, in 1977. Virginia Kraft met Charles Payson while writing a story for Sports Illustrated about his Florida hunting lodge in 1976.
Virginia Kraft Payson has campaigned a handful of prominent horses, including Carr de Naskra, winner of the 1984 Travers Stakes (G1); '92 European Horse of the Year St. Jovite; and graded stakes winners L'Carriere, Salem Drive, and Lac Ouimet.
Payson raced most of the horses she bred until 1999, when she decided to reverse field and become a commercial breeder. In 2000, she sold half her yearlings and the following year sold her entire crop.
From those two crops, numbering less than 20 horses combined, came Vindication, who won the 2002 Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1), and Farda Amiga, winner of the '02 Kentucky Oaks (G1) and runner-up to Azeri in the '02 Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1). Both horses won Eclipse awards in their respective fields in 2002. Her mare, Northern Sunset (above) was honored as Broodmare of the Year in 1995.
Recent top homebreds include Grade 1 winner Rutherienne and Grade 3 winner and sire Scipion.