Lexington (horse)

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Lexington (USA).jpg
Lexington, by Edward Troye
DamAlice Carneal
Foaled17 March 1850
CountryUnited States
BreederDr. Warfield
OwnerSyndicate of Richard Ten Broeck, General Abe Buford, Captain Willa Viley & Junius R. Ward
2. Robert A. Alexander
TrainerJ. B. Pryor
Record7: 6 wins, 1 second
Major wins
Phoenix Hotel Handicap
Leading sire in North America 16 times
United States Racing Hall of Fame inductee (1955)

Lexington (March 17, 1850 – July 1, 1875) was a United States Thoroughbred race horse who won six of his seven race starts. Perhaps his greatest fame came however as the most successful sire of the second half of the nineteenth century; he was the leading sire in North America 16 times, and of his many brood mare and racer progeny one was Preakness, namesake of the famous race at Pimlico.

Lexington was a bay colt bred by Dr. Elisha Warfield at Warfield's stud farm, The Meadows, near Lexington, Kentucky. Lexington was by the Hall of Fame inductee, Boston (by Timoleon by Sir Archy) from Alice Carneal by Sarpedon. He was inbred in the third and fourth generations (3m × 4f) to Sir Archy. Lexington stood 15 hands (63 inches), high, and was described as having good conformation plus an excellent disposition.

Racing record[edit]

Under the name of "Darley" Lexington easily won his first two races for Dr. Warfield and his partner, "Burbridge's Harry", a former slave turned well-known horse trainer. Burbridge, being black, was not allowed to enter "Darley" in races in his own name, so the horse ran in Dr. Warfield's name and colors.[1] He caught the eye of Richard Ten Broeck who asked Dr. Warfield to name his price. "Darley", the son of Boston, was sold in 1853 to Ten Broeck acting on behalf of a syndicate who would rename him Lexington. Affixed to Lexington's pedigree Dr. Warfield wrote: "The colt was bred by me, as was also his dam, which I now and will ever, own...E. Warfield."

A syndicate made up of Richard Ten Broeck, General Abe Buford, Captain Willa Viley, and Junius R. Ward, bought Lexington for $2,500 between heats (or during the running of his race), so tried claiming the purse money when he won. Failing that, he tried to deduct the purse money from the sale price. But Dr. Warfield held out. His new owners immediately sent Lexington to Natchez, Mississippi to train under J. B. Pryor.

Lexington raced at age three and four and although he only competed seven times, many of his races were grueling four-mile events. Lexington won six of his seven races and finished second once. One of his wins was the Phoenix Hotel Handicap in 1853. On April 2, 1855, at the Metairie race course in New Orleans, he set a record running four miles in 7 minutes, 19 ​34 seconds. Even with his complex and hard-fought rivalry with the horse LeCompte (also a son of Boston, both born just after Boston died), he was known as the best race horse of his day. His second match with LeCompte on April 24, 1855, was considered one of the greatest matches of the century. But Lexington had to be retired at the end of 1855 as a result of poor eyesight. His sire, Boston, had also gone blind. Conservation work in 2010 revealed that Lexington had had a massive facial infection that resulted in his going blind.[2]

Stud record[edit]

Lexington photographed in a stable.

Lexington stood for a time at the Nantura Stock Farm of Uncle John Harper in Midway, Kentucky, along with the famous racer and sire, Glencoe. Sold to Robert A. Alexander for $15,000 in 1858, reportedly the then highest price ever paid for an American horse, Lexington was sent to Alexander's Woodburn Stud at Spring Station, Kentucky.

Called "The Blind Hero of Woodburn", Lexington became the leading sire in North America sixteen times, from 1861 through 1874, and then again in 1876 and 1878.[3] Lexington was the sire of the undefeated Asteroid and Norfolk.[4] Nine of the first fifteen Travers Stakes were won by one of his sons or daughters, a list that included:

Lexington's three Preakness Stakes winners equaled the record of another great sire, Broomstick.

In all Lexington sired 236 winners who won 1,176 races, ran second 348 times and third 42 times for $1,159,321 in prize money.[7]

During the American Civil War, horses were forcibly conscripted from the Kentucky Farms to serve as mounts in the bloody fray. Lexington, 15 years old and blind, had to be hidden away to save him from such a fate.

Lexington died at Woodburn on July 1, 1875, and was buried in a casket in front of the stables. A few years later, in 1878, his owner, through the auspices of Dr. J.M. Toner, donated the horse's bones to the U.S. National Museum (the Smithsonian Institution).[8] The pioneering taxidermist Henry Augustus Ward of Ward's Natural Science in Rochester, New York, was called in to supervise the disinterment and preparation of the skeleton. For many years the specimen was exhibited in the Osteology Hall of the National Museum of Natural History. In 1999, Lexington was part of the exhibition "On Time", at the National Museum of American History, where he helped illustrate the history of the first mass-produced stopwatch that split time into fractions of seconds—which was supposedly developed to document Lexington's feats on the race course. In 2010, Smithsonian conservators prepared the skeleton for loan to the International Museum of the Horse in Lexington, Kentucky, in time for the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky, the first time these games had been held outside of Europe.[9]

Lexington's dominance in the pedigrees of American-bred Thoroughbreds, and the fact that the British Thoroughbred breeders considered him not a purebred, was a large factor in the so-called Jersey Act of 1913, in which the British Jockey Club limited the registration of horses not traced completely to horses in the General Stud Book.[10]


Lexington was part of the first group of horses inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1955. The Belmont Lexington Stakes runs every year at Belmont Park in honor of Lexington, as does the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland Race Course.

On Tuesday, August 31, 2010 the Smithsonian loaned Lexington's skeleton to the International Museum of the Horse at the Kentucky Horse Park, to be exhibited there through August 2013.[11][9]

Lexington served as the model for the top of the Woodlawn Vase, given to the winner of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.[12]


Pedigree of Lexington, bay stallion, 1850[13]
Chestnut 1833
Chestnut 1814
Sir Archy
Bay 1805
Saltram mare
Ch. 1801
Symme's Wildair Mare
Ball's Florizel Mare
Chestnut 1814
Ball's Florizel Diomed
Shark Mare
Alderman Mare
Clockfast Mare
Alice Carneal
Bay 1836
Bay 1828
Emilius Orville
Icaria The Flyer
Chestnut 1826
Sumpter Sir Archy
Robin Redbreast Mare
Lady Grey Robin Grey
Maria (family: 12-b)
  • Lexington was inbred 3 × 4 to the stallion Sir Archy and 4 × 4 to the stallion Diomed, meaning that both horses appears twice in his pedigree—Sir Archy in the third and fourth generations, and Diomed twice in the fourth generation.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Spell of the Turf by Samuel C. Hildreth and James R. Crowell, J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1926.
  2. ^ "One hundred sixty years after his birth a racehorse's bones return to Lexington". Smithsonian Science. 2010-11-17. Retrieved 2013-01-04.
  3. ^ Ahnert, Rainer L. (editor in chief), Thoroughbred Breeding of the World, Pozdun Publishing, Germany, 1970
  4. ^ Hollingsworth, Kent, The Kentucky Thoroughbred, University Press, Kentucky, 1985
  5. ^ Racing Museum HoF Archived 2010-08-08 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 2010-11-11
  6. ^ Australian Stud Book: Lexington (USA) - progeny Retrieved 2010-9-30
  7. ^ Becker, Friedrich, The Breed of the Racehorse, The British Bloodstock Agency, London, c.1935
  8. ^ "Famous Horses". Encyclopedia Smithsonian. January 2011. Retrieved 2013-01-04.
  9. ^ a b "Lexington Racehorse, 1878" (Press release). Smithsonian Museum. May 3, 2011. Retrieved 2013-01-04.
  10. ^ Willett, Peter (1982). The Classic Racehorse. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky. pp. 71–74. ISBN 0-8131-1477-2.
  11. ^ "Lexington has returned to Lexington"
  12. ^ Thomson, Candus (2011-05-19). "Story of Woodlawn Vase has many twists". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2013-01-04.
  13. ^ "Lexington pedigree". equineline.com. 2012-05-08. Retrieved 2013-01-04.

External links[edit]