Lexington (horse)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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)
Fair Grounds Racing Hall of Fame

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, however, came as the most successful sire of the second half of the nineteenth century; he was the leading sire in North America 16 times, and broodmare sire of many notable racehorses.


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 15.3 hands (63 inches, 160 cm) and was described as having good conformation though he had a distinctive "moose head" profile. At stud, he developed a willful and somewhat vicious temperament.[1]

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.k.a. Harry Louis, a former slave turned well-known horse trainer. Harry's son, Jaret, had formed a bond with the colt. The two were inseparable. Jaret trained and prepared Darley for many of his races and acted as his groom as well. 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.[2] Darley and Jaret caught the eye of Richard Ten Broeck who asked Dr. Warfield to name his price. "Darley", the son of Boston, and Jaret were 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, running against time.[3] Even with his complex and hard-fought rivalry with the horse Lecomte (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 Lecomte on April 14, 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.[4]

Stud record[edit]

One of the few known photographs of Lexington

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.

He stood for a price of $100 until 1861, when he first led the sire list, and it was increased to $200.[3] He stood for a limited public fee of $500, the highest in the country and comparable to the leading English stallions, in 1865 and 1866 before being restricted to private stud duties only.[3]

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.[5] Lexington was the sire of the undefeated Asteroid and Norfolk.[6] Nine of the first fifteen Travers Stakes were won by one of his sons or daughters. Among his noted progeny are:

Foaled Name Sex Major Wins/Achievements
1857[7] Idlewind Notable racer
1860[7] Cincinnati Stallion General Ulysses S. Grant's favorite horse. He was depicted in numerous statues of Grant that remain to this day.
1861 Asteroid Stallion Undefeated
1861 Kentucky Stallion Travers Stakes (1864), US Racing Hall of Fame inductee
1861[7] Norfolk Stallion Undefeated, Jersey Derby (1864)
1864[7] Hira Mare Dam of Himyar
1865 General Duke Stallion Belmont Stakes (1868), American Champion Two-Year-Old Colt
1867 Kingfisher Stallion Belmont Stakes (1870)
1867 Preakness Stallion Namesake of the Preakness Stakes, Manhattan Stakes (1873), US Racing Hall of Fame inductee
1868 Harry Bassett Stallion Belmont Stakes (1871), US Racing Hall of Fame inductee
1868[7] Monarchist Stallion Grand National Handicap (1871),
1870[7] Tom Bowling Stallion Travers Stakes (1873), US Racing Hall of Fame inductee
1872 Tom Ochiltree Stallion Preakness Stakes (1875), US Racing Hall of Fame inductee
1873[7] Neecy Hale Mare Kentucky Oaks (1876)
1873 Shirley Gelding Preakness Stakes (1876)
1873[7] Sultana Mare Travers Stakes (1876), Retrospective Champion Three-Year-Old Filly (1876)
1875 Belle of Nelson Mare Kentucky Oaks (1878)
1875 Duke of Magenta Stallion Preakness Stakes (1878), Belmont Stakes (1878), Travers Stakes (1878), US Racing Hall of Fame inductee

[8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14]

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.[15]

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. He was sent to Illinois for this purpose.[3]

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).[16] 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.[17]

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.[18]

Summary of Stud Career[3]
Year Rank in Sire List Starters Races Won Money Won
1859 7th 7 10 $6,700
1860 2nd 12 37 $22,295
1861 1st 13 27 $22,245
1862 1st 5 14 $9,700
1863 1st 10 25 $14,235
1864 1st 13 38 $28,440
1865 1st 31 87 $58,750
1866 1st 34 112 $92,795
1867 1st 33 86 $54,030
1868 1st 36 92 $68,340
1869 1st 36 81 $56,375
1870 1st 35 82 $120,360
1871 1st 40 102 $109,095
1872 1st 28 82 $71,515
1873 1st 23 71 $71,565
1874 1st 23 70 $51,899
1875 3rd 30 33 $32,245
1876 1st 21 34 $90,570
1877 2nd 20 29 $32,815
1878 1st 16 36 $60,195
1879 7th 15 19 $17,439.50
1880 17th 9 12 $9,297.50
1881 17th 6 7 $1,055
1882 17th 3 1 $255
Totals 499 1,187 $1,102,211

Lexington did additionally have one foal start in 1858 as a two-year-old, finishing second in a single start.[3]


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.[19][17]

Lexington served as the model for the top of the Woodlawn Vase, given to the winner of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.[20]

Lexington was exhibited at the 1859 Great St. Louis Fair.[3]


Lexington was the leading sire in North America a record 16 times. His sire line originally flourished, especially through Norfolk (who in turn produced champions Emperor of Norfolk and El Rio Rey), but then faced increasing competition from European imports. His last known male progeny was Conquering Elk (b. 1987).[21][22] However, his influence on the pedigrees of the modern Thoroughbred can still be felt through his daughters, who produced winners Spendthrift, Himyar, Hanover, and Bramble.[23][24] Himyar in turn established a sire line that has survived into the 21st century through Holy Bull,[25] who sired both 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo and 2000 Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Mucho Uno. In turn, Mucho Uno sired 2013 Breeders' Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man, the sire of 2020 Pegasus World Cup winner Mucho Gusto.[26][27] Likewise, the Spendthrift line has survived into the 21st century through Tiznow, who won the Breeders Cup Classic in consecutive years (2000, 2001); he in turn produced 2008 Belmont Stakes winner Da' Tara, and 2008 Santa Anita Derby and Travers Stakes winner Colonel John.

Lexington is the subject of the best selling novel Horse by Geraldine Brooks, published in 2022. [28][29]


Some of the horses in Lexington's pedigree cannot be traced back to England's General Stud Book, a fact that can probably be attributed to the disruptions and sometimes hazardous record keeping in the period between the American Revolution and Civil War.[1] The pedigree shown on The Jockey Club's Equineline database is thus incomplete, not showing the dams of Timoleon, Florizel and the Alderman Mare.[30] The pedigree shown below fills in those gaps based on American records.

Lexington is usually said to descend from family 12-b[1] in the female line through his third dam Lady Grey. However, the mitochondrial DNA of descendants of Lady Grey is inconsistent with that of other members of family 12-b, indicating a likely mismatch.[31]

Pedigree of Lexington, bay stallion, 1850
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. ^ a b c "Lexington (horse)". American Classic Pedigrees. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  2. ^ The Spell of the Turf by Samuel C. Hildreth and James R. Crowell, J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1926.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Hervey, John (1944). Racing in America 1665-1865 II. New York: The Jockey Club.
  4. ^ "One hundred sixty years after his birth a racehorse's bones return to Lexington". Smithsonian Science. 2010-11-17. Retrieved 2013-01-04.
  5. ^ Ahnert, Rainer L. (editor in chief), Thoroughbred Breeding of the World, Pozdun Publishing, Germany, 1970
  6. ^ Hollingsworth, Kent, The Kentucky Thoroughbred, University Press, Kentucky, 1985
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Lexington Offspring
  8. ^ Racing Museum HoF Archived 2010-08-08 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 2010-11-11
  9. ^ Australian Stud Book: Lexington (USA) - progeny Retrieved 2010-9-30
  10. ^ "Monarchist Horse Pedigree". www.pedigreequery.com. Retrieved 2020-08-23.
  11. ^ "Norfolk Horse Pedigree". www.pedigreequery.com. Retrieved 2020-08-23.
  12. ^ "Asteroid Horse Pedigree". www.pedigreequery.com. Retrieved 2020-08-23.
  13. ^ "Idlewild Horse Pedigree". www.pedigreequery.com. Retrieved 2020-08-23.
  14. ^ "Sultana Horse Pedigree". www.pedigreequery.com. Retrieved 2020-08-23.
  15. ^ Becker, Friedrich, The Breed of the Racehorse, The British Bloodstock Agency, London, c.1935
  16. ^ "Famous Horses". Encyclopedia Smithsonian. January 2011. Retrieved 2013-01-04.
  17. ^ a b "Lexington Racehorse, 1878" (Press release). Smithsonian Museum. May 3, 2011. Retrieved 2013-01-04.
  18. ^ Willett, Peter (1982). The Classic Racehorse. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky. pp. 71–74. ISBN 0-8131-1477-2.
  19. ^ "Lexington has returned to Lexington"
  20. ^ Thomson, Candus (2011-05-19). "Story of Woodlawn Vase has many twists". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2013-01-04.
  21. ^ The Meaning of the death of Midnight Bourbon
  22. ^ Saudi Arabia has four horses from the nearly dead St Simon sire line
  23. ^ The Evolution of the American Classic Winner
  24. ^ "Thoroughbred Bloodlines Sire Lines Byerley Turk King Herod". www.bloodlines.net. Retrieved 7 May 2021.
  26. ^ "Holy Bull (horse)". American Classic Pedigrees. Retrieved 7 May 2021.
  27. ^ "Macho Uno". American Classic Pedigrees. Retrieved 7 May 2021.
  28. ^ Brooks, Geraldine (2022). Horse. [New York, New York]. ISBN 978-0-399-56296-9. OCLC 1264176221.
  29. ^ "Best Sellers - Books - July 3, 2022 - The New York Times". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-11-27.
  30. ^ "Equineline pedigree of Lexington". Equineline. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  31. ^ "Thoroughbred Bloodlines - Family 12-b Diana". www.bloodlines.net. Retrieved 11 October 2020.

External links[edit]