Joe Riddell was raised on a 375 acre dairy and crop (tobacco, corn, soy beans, hay, etc.) farm in Kentucky. His father worked hard as the tenant farmer.
Joe graduated high school at the height of the Vietnam War. Due to a struggle with dyslexia, he joined the Air Force, serving four years (six months in Southeast Asia). He was honorably discharged in 1970.

After his years in the Air Force, Joe worked in the thoroughbred industry as a groom, assistant trainer and trainer.He was well-known as a horseman that could take a "crazy" horse and turn them into a happy and successful racehorse. During these years, Joe also took care of the broodmare band on Gen. William R. Buster's Audubon Farm near Midway, Kentucky. While there, a 90-year-old African American named Mr. Clark taught Joe a great deal about raising a sound, healthy and successful thoroughbred race horse. His words still guide Joe to this day.

Beginning in 1978, Joe was the top ad salesman for The Thoroughbred Record, where he met many leaders in the thoroughbred industry. Overcoming his dyslexia that plagued him throughout childhood, he spent numerous hours in the company's library, learning pedigrees and the history of the industry.

During this season of Joe's life, he met Abram S. Hewitt, who wrote The Great Breeders and Their Methods. Hewitt's book had a lifelong impact on Joe's life. Joe also learned a depth of industry knowledge from the stories of Hewitt's world travels, where he was a guest at the farms of great breeders including the "Genius" Italian breeder Frederico Tesio. Hewitt was one of many who contributed to Joe's thoroughbred industry education during his three years at the Record.

In the mid-1980s, Joe served as Assistant to Stanley D. Petter Jr. (the weanling man) at Hurricane Hall Stud in his Bloodstock and Sales Agency. During this time he learned about buying and selling thoroughbreds at Keeneland and Fasig Tipton.

He then went on to serve as the farm manager for Frank Stronach's Beechwood farm in Ontario, Canada. In just two years, home breds went from 24% winners from named foals to 88%.

Like any expert, I may not have all the answers to a client's questions, but I understand the questions and know who to call for answers.

In 1987, Joe became a real estate broker, focusing on farms -- especially horse farms in the Inner Bluegrass Region of Central Kentucky. In 2016, Joe partnered with Ryan Smith to form The Riddell Smith Group. Since then, he has been involved in the purchase or sale of more than 25,000 acres of land in the Bluegrass. 

Joe mainly works as a buyer's agent, specializing in finding the ideal farm for his clients. He has helped develop many farms from cattle and crop farms to horse farms, including the original Adena Springs (eight Eclipse Awards for Outstanding Breeder in a ten year span), Kentuckiana Farm (leading standardbred nursery) and others.

Clients during these years include:

  • Adena Spring 
  • Kentuckiana 
  • Shadwell
  • Winstar
  • Gainsborough Farm
  • Stone Farm
  • Machmer Hail Farm
  • Hidden Brook Farm
  • Jess Jackson 
  • Junior Little 

During these years, Joe has continually sought more knowledge that answers to this ultimate question: Why is Central Kentucky the thoroughbred capital of the world? 

He has had tremendous help of colleagues and family, especially his brother Mike Riddell. Mike helped Joe understand the geology, hydrology and mineral content of the soils in the Bluegrass. Many others have also shared their knowledge of Central Kentucky soils and forages with Joe. With this knowledge, Joe is ready to help you find your ideal Kentucky farm!