Rivers of Gold – excerpts: part 19

(I still find it extraordinary that British horse breeders turned their backs on Diomed.  But then, no one wanted to buy Northern Dancer.  Perhaps when it comes to seeing the soul of a horse we humans are not always as clever as we think. Still in the case of Diomed things certainly worked out well for North Americans. )


“… Born in Kentucky in the spring of 1850, Lexington (Doimed’s great-great grandson)started his racing days under the name Darley.  He won his first two races easily for his owner/breeders, Dr. Elisha Warfield and his partner “Burbridges Harry,” a well-known horse trainer and former slave.  Because Burbridges was black he was not allowed to race horses in his own name, so the colt ran in the name and colours of Dr. Warfield.

Before long the horse caught the attention of a group of Kentuckians who offered $2500 for the colt.  The deal was apparently struck during the running of the race, or between heats of the race, so the syndicate attempted to claim the winners purse.  When that didn’t fly they tried to deduct the purse from their purchase price.  That didn’t work either.  Eventually they were forced to pay full fare.

The syndicate changed the colt’s name to Lexington and shipped him to Mississippi.  The colt only raced 7 times but most of these events were grueling 4-mile marathons.  Considered the best racehorse of his generation, Lexington won 6 and was second in the other.  His racing days, however, were cut short due to impending blindness, likely caused by a massive facial infection.

Lexington was retired from racing in 1855 and stood for a time at Nantura Stock Farm.  Three years later, Robert Alexander purchase him for $15,000, considered an outrageous amount at the time – especially for a blind horse….

… to be continued

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