Acres upon acres of pasture with black fence gently contouring the road are all that one can see for miles in rural Kentucky. This is the home for horses. On the ride to Mill Ridge Farm, our guide pointed out the other farms along the way: the red roofs for Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai , the white roofs for a former Kentucky Derby winner. Bluegrass Country has been shaped by the people, and creatures, that live here. This is where legacies are made and Mill Ridge is no exception.
Alice Chandler was a woman to be feared, the matriarch of Mill Ridge for decades. She grew up on her father’s Beaumont Farm and started her own farm in 1962. She raised four inherited mares on 286 acres and became the first woman to raise an Epsom Derby winner with Sir Ivor. Her grandson regaled us with tales of her brazenness, as she would peek over the stalls to ensure that consummation between two mating horses had taken place. At that time, women weren’t allowed to be in the room.
The Mill Ridge horses are among the most prestigious and successful in races. In 2005, Alice sold a yearling for almost $10 million dollars. The team also assisted with the mating of winners of the Breeder’s Cup, Kentucky Derby, and Horse of the Year. Mill Ridge’s legacy continues as Alice’s son Headley founded Nicoma Bloodstock, an affiliate of Mill Ridge that brokers and consults on matings between horses.
Mares are kept in small groups, as are young horses, but once the males get to a certain age, they must roam alone. Mill Ridge serves as a sort of primary school for the young horses before they start racing. Visiting the horse farm made our day at Keeneland come full circle because we got to see the process from beginning to end.
Visitors to Lexington can join horse farm tours or create their own based on this listings page, created by Visit Lexington. This is the best way to learn about the history of horse breeding in the Horse Capital of the World.
My visit to Mill Ridge was organized by Visit Lexington.