“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Lexington in Fayette County, Kentucky — The American South (East South Central)

Breed Only The Best

Breed Only The Best Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Doda, March 21, 2022
1. Breed Only The Best Marker
Inscription.  Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds; the best racing and driving horses in America stood here.

A good horse was indispensable throughout the 1800s

Horses For Power, Transportation, And Sport. Breeders increasingly focused on improving equine stock to enhance the best traits for draft work, harness, rapid delivery, mounted cavalry, individual transport and of course, racing.
Kentuckians Loved Horse Racing From The Get-Go. In the 1790s, impromptu races down Lexington's streets became such a nuisance they were outlawed. Before 1800, almost every county seat had a racecourse and one-on-one match races popularized the sport throughout America. National publicity and betting in the tens of thousands of dollars created

America's first sports celebrity - the horse.

The famous Thoroughbred "Lexington” beat arch rival “Lecompte” in a highly-publicized series of matches before the Civil War. Robert A. Alexander bought the great racer for $15,000- an unimaginable price at the time - and retired him to stud at Woodburn Farm on Old Frankfort Pike where the stallion
Breed Only The Best Marker (middle marker) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Doda, March 21, 2022
2. Breed Only The Best Marker (middle marker)
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gained even greater fame. For sixteen years, Lexington led the Thoroughbred sires list for the record-breaking number of his race-winning offspring.

Lexington (right) Undeniably one of the most influential founding sires of the Thoroughbred breed. Lexington (the city) chose Lexington (the horse) as its iconic blue trademark.

Lexington, by Edward Troye. The artist painted the famous stallion more than a dozen times over the years. Above: Woodburn Stud Farm. 1864 Stallions advertisement (KHS)

The Bluegrass earned a national reputation as the place for fine equine stock from the time, money and efforts of a small-number of visionary agrarians in the neighborhood. After the Civil War, Thoroughbred horse racing changed-from four-mile heats-to shorter distances at faster speeds, and breeding strategics encouraged the breed toward younger, faster sprinters.

Woodburn, Stonewall, Equira, Bosque Bonita, Sunny Slopu, Spring Hill, Nantura: these farms reigned here through the 19th-century. This critical mass of influential stock farms, their owners, and the equine progeny of these lands greatly affected the blooded horse industry on a national level.

Asteroid, an equally famous stablemate of Lexington, at Woodburn Farm, undated (NYPL)

The Standardbred bloodline originated in the Thoroughbred.

Breed Only The Best Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Doda, March 21, 2022
3. Breed Only The Best Marker
turned heads for speed and ruled the racecourse, but the versatile Standardbred Dominated the blooded equine industry throughout the 19th century. In light harness on the road or the racetrack, the Standardbred both trotted and paced. Saddled to ride, the breed jumped, hunted, and gamed fame for a fine temperament and athleticism.

Woodburn is an acknowledged foundation farm of the breed. Along with Lexington and other Thoroughbreds that sired countless Standardbred foals, Harold (sire of the famous Maud S), stood here.

In 1878, William H. Vanderbilt. purchased the locally-bred Maud S for $21,000, He made the mare his personal road horse, even though she reigned as the fastest racing trotter on record. Six years later, he returned Maud S to the track, where she lowered the world record for the mile six times in seven years.

Above, Maud S, "The fastest trotter the world has yet known. Owned by Willam H Vanderbilt who has- refused a cash offer of S100,000 for her. Foaled at Woodburn Farm in 1874.” (LOC)

"A Head and Head Finish" by Currier and Ives. (1893, LOC)

Above: John Harper of Nantura Stock Farm on Old Frankfort Pike with "Longfellow (LOC).

Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: AnimalsSports. A significant historical year for this entry is 1800.
<i>Breed Only The Best</i> Marker image. Click for full size.
April 5, 2022
4. Breed Only The Best Marker
38° 4.124′ N, 84° 33.452′ W. Marker is in Lexington, Kentucky, in Fayette County. Marker is at the intersection of Old Frankfort Pike and Alexandria Drive, on the right when traveling east on Old Frankfort Pike. Located at the Old Frankfort Pike Scenic Overlook. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2450 Old Frankfort Pike, Lexington KY 40510, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Create An Agri-culture (here, next to this marker); Gentlemen Farmers and Burley Tobacco (here, next to this marker); The Settlers (a few steps from this marker); the International Thoroughbred Landscape (a few steps from this marker); Geology And The Land (a few steps from this marker); Americas First West (a few steps from this marker); Calumet Farm (a few steps from this marker); The West Fayette County (a few steps from this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Lexington.
Additional keywords. Breed Only The Best
Credits. This page was last revised on April 5, 2022. It was originally submitted on March 28, 2022, by Craig Doda of Napoleon, Ohio. This page has been viewed 80 times since then and 9 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on March 28, 2022, by Craig Doda of Napoleon, Ohio.   4. submitted on April 5, 2022. • Mark Hilton was the editor who published this page.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. Clear photo of marker. • Can you help?

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Mar. 23, 2023