In all of America there are few localities that can match the Bluegrass country of Kentucky for springtime beauty and splendor. Across the rolling sweep of the hills of this rich and magnificent acreage the gentle breezes of spring ripple the length and breadth of carefully nurtured pastures surrounded by romantic dogwood and stately locust and sugar maple trees.
This may be the land of tobacco and whisky, of the last of the authentic Kentucky colonels (see page 41). But it is also the home of the Thoroughbred-race-horse-breeding industry, a business so enormous today that a horse can sell for more than a million dollars.
These days, as they have been for recent weeks, visitors are pouring into the land of the Bluegrass as never before—many as house guests of the owners of such breeding establishments as Calumet Farm, Normandy Farm and Circle M Farm (pictured on the following pages), some moving cheerfully into such well-known Lexington hostelries as the Campbell House, the Lafayette and Phoenix hotels to spend a pleasant week or more on a round of leisurely farm inspections by morning and immersion in the intimate atmosphere of racing at the Keeneland Race Course during the afternoons. Of one thing visitors can be sure: wherever they go in Lexington from now until the Kentucky Derby post-mortems are over next month, the conversation will center around race horses. Experts will discourse on bloodlines, breeding theories and the merits of a new crop of wobbly-legged foals. What looks like a prize crop of yearlings to one breeder is often nothing more than ordinary to his critical neighbor. But at the Keeneland track this week and next, many a Kentucky-bred—including some choice Kentucky Derby candidates—will have a chance to show his wares. And even at the track the visitor to Kentucky is expected to know what it's all about. So much so that the guidance afforded by a public address system during the races has been omitted. But in Lexington this is a convenience nobody seems to miss.
Keeneland Race Course, in the heart of the Thoroughbred country, opens the season this week
April 16, 1956
Lexington is a land of fences—solid, strong and high fences. At Calumet they are clean and white, glistening in the sun as they twist gracefully around the tulip poplars
Spring in the shadowy yearling paddocks and on the soft pastures is an exciting and inspiring time of every year, bringing out the frisky yearlings to nip and romp, the breeders to watch and hope for future champions
Grazing peacefully in a pasture beside an enormous Calumet brood mare barn, a contented mare remains close by her resting newborn foal, who soon enough will leave her side forever
Lexington has its memories of the past as well as occasions for happy rejoicing. Pink and white dogwood surround the quiet Thoroughbred graveyard on the C. V. Whitney farm, where rest the remains of such as Whisk Broom II, Regret and Equipoise. Nearby, before a blue-tiled reminder of France (left) at E. Barry Ryan's Normandy Farm, a groom walks leisurely with a young foal. And at Leslie Combs II's Spendthrift Farm (opposite) a post-Derby party meets under the shade of a black locust against the gentle backdrop of a rolling pasture
More sturdy fences create symbolic partitions among the stallion paddocks at Mrs. Edward S. Moore's Circle M. Farm, once part of Idle Hour, a home of champions