Ocala, situated in the center of Marion County, is one of the major horse-raising areas in the world. Horse breeding and training began here back in the 1940s, and today between 3500 and 5000 horses are born each year, which is about 10 percent of the nation's total.
Several famous horses have derived from the hills of Ocala, including Needles, who won the Kentucky Derby in 1956, and Affirmed, a Triple Crown winner in 1978. Gate Dancer, who won the 1984 Preakness, also came from Ocala.
There are approximately 1200 horse farms in the Ocala area.