Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Calumet Farm

With Derby Day just around the corner, no better time to pay homage to fabled Calumet Farm.  If you have flown into the Lexington airport, you've no doubt seen the lovely red and white barns from the air.  The farm has such an incredible history.  Take a look at the trophy collection:

The farm is a 762 acre Thoroughbred breeding and training farm established in 1924 by William Monroe Wright, owner of The Calumet Baking Powder Company.  The farm was initially based in Libertyville, IL but the more favorable climate of Kentucky made it a better place for a horse farm.  At the time, Mr. Wright raised Standardbred horses, which were more popular and prestigious. Mr. Wright died in 1932 and his son Warren Wright took the business and began coverting the operation into Thoroughbreds.

Calumet produced eight Kentucky Derby winners (more than any other operation in U.S. racing history) and is the leading breeder and owner of Preakness Stakes winner with seven each. Two colts became Triple Crown winners and three females won the Triple Crown for fillies.

Some of the farm's great horses include Whirlaway, Citation, Tim Tam, Alydar and Before Dawn.  The farm produced eleven horses that have been inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.  Here is a photo of the great Citation, Arcaro in the irons:

Here is Whirlaway:

Calumet's illustrious history was damaged with the death of Alydar and the collection of a $36 million insurance policy which brought a cloud of suspicion over the business.  If you want to read a fantaastic book about the downfall, this one is great:

Here is Alydar's grave:

You can even stitch a Calumet Farm needlepoint belt:

Under Calumet president J.T. Lundy, mismanagement and fraud had left the farm with a massive debt load that forced Calumet to file for bankruptcy in 1991.  In 2000, J.T. Lundy and Gary Matthews, the farm's former attorney and CFO were convicted of fraud and bribery and sent to prision.  In 1992 the farm was purchased for $17M by a trust established by Henryk de Kwiatkowski, a Polish-born Canadian citizen and owner of Kennelot Stables, saving it from liquidation.

1 comment:

  1. We have heard about Alydar even here in South Africa and we are still in shock about this great horse's tradgic death. All the best!!


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