Rivers of Gold – excerpts: part 20

(The first really significant gold strike occurred when I discovered Robert Alexander, the most important horse breeder in the US 150 years ago, sent many of his good horses to Canada during the Civil War.  The next was that the dynamic stallion, Lexington, factored in so many of these sturdy bloodlines.)

Rivers of Gold

“… Alexander moved Lexington to his Woodburn Farm, about 10 miles wet of the town of Lexington, Kentucky.  While Woodburn would go down in history as the cradle of Kentucky’s Thoroughbred breeding business, it also was the birthplace of the Standardbred horse.  But through it all the farm was best know as home to Lexington, who became known as ‘The Blind Hero of Woodburn.”

Lexington was 15 at the outset of the American Civil War.  Despite Kentucky officially declaring neutrality at the outset of the conflict, and Alexander being British by birth, Woodburn found itself under siege any number of times.  Alexander’s horses were extremely well-bred and no doubt generals on both sides were looking to conscript these animals.

Alexander would have none of it and shipped many of his best horses to Canada, but he was not inclined to take the risk with Lexington.  Instead he chose to hide him away, safe from those who would attempt to commandeer or harm his aging and blind stallion.

Named leading sire 16 times in his lifetime, the vast majority of US horses were related to Lexington.  Needless-to-say, countless genetic traces of Lexington will have been embedded throughout all the Rivers of Gold.  Indeed, a search deep into the distant ancestors of Northern Dancer will find sightings of Lexington.


Curiously, the British did not consider Lexington to be a bona fide Thoroughbred.

…to be continued

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