Rivers of Gold – excerpts: part 15

(Today we hit one of the most astonishing discoveries in this, the evolution of Canada’s dominant Thoroughbred bloodlines – one that no one would likely have considered in a month of Sundays:  An Underground Railroad for horses)


“…Canada’s fledgling Thoroughbred population received an indirect boost from the American Civil War (1861-1865).  Armies from both sides- the Northern States (Union) and Southern States (Confederacy) – not only conscripted soldiers, they commandeered horses.  By the end of the conflict in excess of 1,000,000 horses and donkeys had been slaughtered in battle.  US horse owners, anxious to spare their animals from conscription, hence imminent demise, shipped them north across the border.

Rivers of Gold

Kentuckian, Robert Alexander, sent herds of horses to Canada for safety.  At the time his Woodburn Stud was the most prominent horse (and cattle) breeding establishment in the US.  Alexander also stood Lexington, the most important US sire of the second half of the 1800’s, on his famous farm.  Among the most significant Woodburn horses shipped to Canada was the stallion Thunder, a son of Lexington.

While breeding and bloodline records were destroyed during the fighting, it is safe to assume the early layers of bedrock at the base of Canada’s Rivers of Gold can be attributed to some of the finest US bloodlines.

Quite possibley the most significant contributor was Diomed, winner of the first English Derby.  Decades later, Australia, winner of the 2014 English Derby would find Diomed in his family tree.  This would not have happened, however, if the British horse breeders had not refused to breed their mares to Diomed….”  to be continued…

Lexington, by Edward Troye

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.