Horse Capital of the World
Surrounded by over 400 horse farms, Lexington is the Horse Capital of the World because...
- Lexington, Horse Capital of the
World, had the honor of being the first city outside of Europe to ever
host the World Equestrian Games. Attendance at the Alltech FEI World
Equestrian Games in 2010 topped half a million. A record twenty-seven
teams competed in eight disciplines. Fifty-eight countries were
represented with 632 athletes and 752 horses. Of the 507,000 tickets
sold, 70 percent went to non-Kentuckians.
- Lexington is home to the 1,200
acre Kentucky Horse Park which attracts almost a million visitors a
year. Dedicated to all breeds of horse, nowhere else in the world can
you see so many breeds in one place. A working farm, the Kentucky Horse
Park features the popular parade of breeds called "Horses of the World",
the Mare and Foal Show, a stunning film presentation of "Rein of
Nobility", several museums, the Hall of Champions and much much more.
- The water that passes through the
massive limestone shelf that lies beneath our nourishing bluegrass
pastures feeds the soil and grasses that grow strong horses unlike
anywhere else in the world. The high mineral content in the soils of the
Bluegrass Region leads to stronger bones and greater durability in
horses and helps maintain our reputation as Horse Capital of the World.
- Keeneland Race Course, minutes
from downtown, is arguably the most beautiful race course in the world.
Keeneland hosts live race meets in the spring and fall. In 2009, the
Horseplayers Association of North America introduced a rating system for
65 Thoroughbred racetracks in North America. Keeneland was ranked #1.
- The best equine care facilities in the world are located here, helping
to solidify our place as Horse Capital: Rood & Riddle (tours by
appointment) and Haygard, Davidson and McGee are both located here in
addition to the Gluck Equine Research Center.
- On any given day, you will find
around 1,000 horses in residence at The Thoroughbred Center where the
champions of tomorrow are in training. An integral part of Kentucky's
world-famous Thoroughbred industry, this is where future racing
champions come to learn how to behave like a race horse. Tours are
- As you would expect in the Horse
Capital of the World, many champions make their home in Lexington. Kentucky Derby winner Go for Gin, and
Standardbred Pacers Western Dreamer and Staying Together all live at the
Kentucky Horse Park. Other past Derby winners reside on farms in the area. Old Friends at Dreamchase Farm, home to many
superstars who are treated like royalty, offers daily tours.
- Calumet Farm, with a record
history of Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown winners that continues to be
unmatched worldwide, is located in Lexington, two minutes from the Blue
- Lexington has produced the most
legendary horses in the world. One such horse, Man o' War, has a
memorial, just outside the Visitors Center at the Kentucky Horse Park.
- Isaac Murphy (born 1861) lived in
Lexington. This African-American jockey competed in eleven Kentucky
Derbys, becoming the first jockey to win three Derbys.
- International Museum of the Horse
is located in Lexington. This museum traces the 50-million-year history
of the horse with one of the most comprehensive educational and
historical collections in the world. It has hosted such block buster
exhibitions as "Imperial China", "All the Queen's Horses" and "A Gift
from the Desert", exploring the relationship between man and horse in
three distinctly different cultures.
- Lexington is Horse Capital of the
World in part because more money changes hands over the sale of horses
in Lexington than any place in the world. It is not at all uncommon for
horses to fetch millions of dollars at the annual Keeneland Sales.
Keeneland is the world's largest and most prestigious Thoroughbred
- Thoroughbred Park, a fitting
tribute to this noble breed, is located in downtown Lexington. People
can relax and ponder the grand bronze horse sculptures, including an
entire race frozen just before the finish line.
- The largest outdoor Saddlebred
horse show in the world is held here in Lexington at The Red Mile: The
Junior League Horse Show has been held there each summer for more than
- The Keeneland Library, one of
racing's most valuable assets, contains more than ten thousand volumes
plus an extensive collection of photo negatives, newspaper clippings and
other historical documents.
- Horsey gifts are readily
available at the Keeneland Shop, the Kentucky Horse Park Gift Shop, and
the American Saddlebred Museum Gift Shop, the Lexington Visitors Center
in The Square, L.V. Harkness, many of the shops at Lexington
Center, and at the area's many tack and riding apparel shops.
- The best equine vets are in Kentucky, as you might expect. There are more than 16 clinics specializing in horse health.
- Lexington is home to the second oldest horse racing track in the nation: The Red Mile Harness Track.
- From Lexington, group or private
working horse farm tours are available daily, year round. Five companies
currently offer regular van tours of horse country. Touring a private
horse farm is one the most popular activities with visitors to our
region. There are many ways to book, including
- Beginning riders can experience
horseback riding at the Kentucky Horse Park, Big Red Riding Stables,
Deer Run Stables, Sugar Creek Resort or Whispering Woods. More
experienced riders may want to check out the Sunburst Horsemanship
School, Kenridge Farm or the Life Adventure Center of the Bluegrass. If
you have your own horse, you can ride at Hisle Park, 3655 Briar Hill
- Year round, you can watch horses
in training. Daily morning workouts at the Keeneland Race Course (free)
and the Thoroughbred Center ($15) are open to the public.
- One of the most beautiful drives
in the U.S. is out Old Frankfort Pike with historic horse farms and
miles of plank and stone fences. If you only have a short time, this is
one of the best drives to get a glimpse of our legendary landscape.
- The Lexington Convention and
Visitors Bureau's most popular map for touring our region is a large
format annotated map allowing visitors to drive through Horse Country at
their leisure. The map is free. It points out well known horse farms as
well as other points of interest along the route.
- Breyer Horses created a limited edition Breyer model horse based on Big Lex, Lexington's famous blue horse. (They are for sale at the Visitor Center.)
- Lexington is home to the largest
collection of Saddlebred artifacts in the world including trophies,
photographs, tack and artwork at the American Saddlebred Museum. There
is also a library of over 2,400 volumes used for bloodline and
genealogical research. The American Saddlebred is Kentucky's oldest
- United States Equestrian Federation is located in Lexington.
- The great Thoroughbred stallion
named Lexington was born here. He was the fastest runner and the
greatest sire of his time in mid-1800's and had a profound impact on the
breed and the industry. By the way, the horse was named for the
city....not the other way around!
- What other city would dare to use a
stunning blue horse as a symbol of the beauty of our region and the
horses that made us known around the world?
- There are more than 450 horse farms nurturing champion horses of all breeds in the Bluegrass region.
- Great jockeys Don Brumfield, Steve Cauthen and Woody Stephens are all from the Bluegrass region.
- The jockey that rode Aristides to victory in the very first Kentucky Derby, Oliver Lewis, was born in 1856 in Fayette County.
- The world's only five breed hitch
will be found in Lexington at the Kentucky Horse Park. This hitch
usually includes representatives of the following breeds: Shire,
Belgian, Clydesdale, Percheron, and Suffolk.
- There is one horse for every 12 people in Kentucky. In 1789, there were more horses than people in Lexington.
- Best equine transport companies are located here.
- Horse breeding has been an
important Bluegrass industry since the area was first settled. Daniel
Boone himself introduced a bill for "improving the breed of horses" at
Kentucky's first legislative assembly.
- It is said that more streets and
highways here are named after horses and race tracks than any place in
the world. Just a tiny sampling:
- Citation Boulevard was named
after a bay colt bred at the Calumet Farm, who won the 1948 Triple Crown
and raced for seven years earning over $1 million.
- Pink Pigeon Parkway was titled after a seven-time stakes-winning filly.
- Sir Barton Way was named after the first Triple Crown winner in 1919.
- Star Shoot Parkway was titled after a sire of Sir Barton and 181 other stakes winners.
- Bold Bidder Drive was named after the sire of 1979 Kentucky Derby winner Spectacular Bid.
- Aristides Boulevard was named after the first Kentucky Derby winner in 1875.
- The main urban arterial
circling Lexington to its south, Man o War Boulevard, is named after one
of the greatest thoroughbred racehorses.
- Pimlico Parkway is named after
the famous track in Baltimore and Beulah Park is named after Ohio's
home for thoroughbred racing.
- The National Horse Center is
located here in Lexington, KY. It is a collection of more than 30
national, regional and state equine associations, commissions and
organizations. The Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, The Pyramid
Society, the American Hackney Horse Association, the American Hanoverian
Society, U.S. Pony Clubs, Inc., and many more are part of the
ever-growing equine "village," located on the grounds of the Kentucky
- The Kentucky Derby with an
attendance of about 140,000 is held in Louisville. Louisville may have
"the race", but Lexington has "the reason for the race". This is where
the best race horses are born, bred, trained, raced--and retired. Many
people choose to stay in Lexington when attending the Derby. Others
attend the largest Derby party in the world at Keeneland Race Course.
- Through today, from Aristides,
first Derby winner in 1875, to 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb, more
than 80 percent of Derby winners were born in Kentucky.
- Our area's central role in the
Thoroughbred industry began during the Civil War, when horse breeders in
Maryland, the Carolinas and Virginia moved their horses "west" for
safety. Their horses thrived in the Bluegrass, thanks to mineral content
of the soil, the gently rolling terrain and the favorable weather
conditions. By the 1930s, the Lexington Herald-Leader had a standing
offer to give subscribers free papers on any day that no horse bred
within a 50-mile radius of Lexington won a race at a major track - an
event that no one can remember ever happening.
- You'll find top equine programs at the University of Kentucky, Midway College, and Georgetown College.
- The estimated economic impact of
Kentucky's horse economy is $4 billion annually. Only in the Horse
Capital of the World would you expect to find such astonishing figures!
- The Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event
is held in Lexington. It is one of the top 3 annual equestrian
eventing competitions in the world.
- Lexington is home to the official
registry of all Thoroughbred horses world wide, The American Stud Book
kept by The Jockey Club.
- The Kentucky horse industry is
responsible for nearly 80,000 direct and indirect jobs, from grooms to
administrative support staff to veterinarians.
- Lexington native Henry Clay,
American statesman and orator, was one of the most respected breeders
and scientific farmers of his time. He introduced Hereford Cattle to the
United States and became one of the most successful providers of mules
to the South. He was also a horseman and lover of racing. His prominence
as a political figure and his success as a breeder helped to launch
Lexington's reputation as Horse Capital of the World. His estate is open
to the public.
- Maker's Mark Secretariat Center, a
national resource for the adoption of thoroughbreds, is on the grounds
of the Kentucky Horse Park.
- The horse industry is Kentucky's
number two agricultural cash crop, based on cash receipts from farm
commodities. (By the way, horses don't even show up in the top ten for
Florida!) Source: USDA
- Deloitte & Touche sites the number of horses in Kentucky at 320,000.
- Prisoners help care for retired
thoroughbreds at Blackburn Correctional Facility (part of the
Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation Group).
- This region is committed to taking care of retired race horses. There are 13 Equestrian Retirement Facilities in Kentucky.
- Most of the living Kentucky Derby winners are stabled at the beautiful farms surrounding Lexington.
- Because Phil Vettel, Food Critic for the Chicago Tribune thinks so.
- The prestigious National Horse Show is now named the Alltech National Horse Show and is hosted at the Kentucky Horse Park.
- If there is any doubt in your mind
that Lexington is the true Horse Capital of the World, just look out
the window next time you fly in to Blue Grass Airport.
- Lexington is home to the National
Reining Championship, held at the Kentucky Horse Park...another great
event that demonstrates that the Horse Capital of the World is not only
- The North American Racing Academy, an accredited college in Lexington, Kentucky, offers the only college degree program in the United States focused on producing jockeys.
- The revolutionary weekend event
"Road to the Horse" is now presented in Lexington. Expert horse trainers
have just 3 hours to break untouched horses to ride - in front of a
crowd of thousands.
- The resources, history, and love of horses that exudes from the entire Lexington area was the inspiration for Asbury University's Equine Center. The university's Equine Management major is one of Asbury's top three majors.
- We rank #1 in number of acres dedicated to the Equine industry. Read about that, and other interesting statistics about Lexington and Fayette County.
- The Horse Capital of the World will go down in history as the site of American Pharoah's grand slam win at Breeders' Cup 2016 at Keeneland Race Cours. And where does American Pharoah live now? At Ashford Stud, located in the heart of Kentucky's famous Bluegrass, just minutes from downtown Lexington!
Have another good reason why Lexington is the Horse Capital of the World? Email email@example.com.