New Owners For Classy Lane

Published: August 6, 2020 09:47 am EDT

Puslinch, Ontario's Classy Lane Training Centre has officially flipped the page to a new chapter in its history. Barb Millier has spoken with Trot Insider and has confirmed that Classy Lane has been sold to new owners that are looking forward to upholding the legacy of the highly regarded Standardbred facility.

Millier told Trot Insider that there had been many tire kickers since Classy Lane went up for sale roughly four years ago, but things got serious last week — Monday, July 27, to be exact — when lawyers stated that a deal appeared to be imminent. The sale of Classy Lane ended up going firm this past Friday (July 31).

All of the parties involved in the transaction are looking for a seamless transition from one ownership entity to the other. The new connections have already begun to learn the ins and outs of the 135-acre property, which includes the managing of all the subtle nuances that an all-season Standardbred training facility carries.

As part of the transition process, Barb and Jamie Millier will be remaining with Classy Lane to help for an undetermined amount of time. Barb told Trot Insider that they usually head down to Florida in late October, but with the sale, transition, and unknown travel landscape due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is hard to know when — or if — they will be headed stateside when the season changes in the fall.

One thing is for certain, though: the Milliers are moving on to another stage in their lives after having poured their hearts and souls into Classy Lane. The Milliers' efforts over the past 17 years have resulted in an institution of a Standardbred training centre — one that is held in high regard not only in Ontario, Canada and the United States, but globally.

"Classy Lane was up for sale for about four years, and there have been a lot of potential buyers over that time," Barb told Trot Insider. "Given that, this deal sort of came out of left field, but it really shouldn't have surprised us at all. With all of us being wrapped up in the COVID-19 pandemic and this deal coming together relatively quickly, the sale came a bit of a shock to us, but not a huge shock."

Regardless of the magnitude of said shock, Barb admitted to Trot Insider that the reality of the sale hit her with a wall of emotion this past weekend, and understandably so. The Milliers built Classy Lane from the ground up, persevered through the gut-wrenching barn fire of 2016, and came out the other end of it. It's always hard to walk away from something that you've worked so hard at, but now is time for the Milliers to do just that.

Barb told Trot Insider that although it's hard to move on, she feels very positive about both the sale itself and the future of Classy Lane. She said that, in the past, many prospective buyers just didn't have all their ducks in a row, so to speak. Although, when Barb discussed Classy Lane's new owners, she stated that they have their house in order, and then some.

Classy Lane's new owners are Ross and Lisa Buurma, who are residents of Puslinch that live minutes from the training centre. Ross has owned and operated a home building and framing business for the past 20 years. While speaking with Trot Insider, Ross stated that Classy Lane has been on his mind for roughly a year.

"We're looking forward to a bright future at Classy Lane. It's a great opportunity," Ross said. "We are looking to keep the level of quality at Classy Lane the same, and maybe improve a little bit in an area or two."

Ross is also ensuring that his words don't ring hollow. His right-hand man, Brodie Hatherley, has been working at Classy Lane for months now, learning the ropes and being initiated into what is required at the training centre on a day to day basis.

"Brodie was looking to get into something different, and this situation (as a track man) is working out really well for him," Ross explained. "He's currently living at Classy Lane. Along with myself, Brodie's been learning from Jamie, who has been showing us the ropes."

Ross explained that his company is currently finishing off existing jobs, but that his sole focus is going to be running Classy Lane once those obligations are complete. Just like the Milliers' transition away from the training centre, Ross' move to operating Class Lane is quite a life shift, and one that he is really looking forward to.

"Working with Barb and Jamie has been great," Ross said. "My focus is going to be on the training centre, and I want to ensure that we continue the high standards that Barb and Jamie have established through the years."

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