Hall of Famer Lexington returns to Kentucky 135 years after his death

Lexington, a Hall of Famer who was arguably the most successful Thoroughbred sire who ever lived, is in the news again — 135 years after his death.

for the past 132 years, Lexington’s skeleton has been on display at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., but after two decades of negotiations, those remains will now be on display at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky.

Lexington will now be on permanent loan to the Horse Park courtesy of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.  Lexington will arrive via the FedEx White Glove Service (their special fine arts shipping service) and will be unloaded, uncrated and placed in a new permanent display created just for him, starting this week.

Lexington was originally named Darley, for the important sire, Darley Arabian. The name change came after Lexington was purchased by Richard Ten Broeck, who planned for the colt to represent Kentucky in the Great State Post Stakes. As Lexington, the colt became known as the best runner of his day and the best sire for years to come.

The Great State Post Stakes was traditionally a competition between the best horses from each state, but in 1854 only four states were able to find horses worth the $5,000 entry fee. Lexington raced against Highlander for Alabama, Lecomte for Mississippi, and Arrow for Louisiana. Lexington easily won this race in two four-mile heats. Following the Great State Post Stakes, a legendary rivalry developed between Lexington and Lecomte. Lexington lost in his next four-mile heat race against Lecomte but defeated him in the next two competitions.

When his eyesight became too poor for the racecourse, Lexington retired. As a sire, he was virtually unmatched. Beginning in 1861 Lexington led the sire lists a total of 16 times.

Lexington’s offspring included Kentucky, Asteroid, Norfolk, Harry Bassett, Sultana, and Duke of Magenta. Nine of the first 15 Travers Stakes were won by Lexington’s sons and daughters.

Lexington was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1955.

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