Set against the turbulent background of the Civil War in the American South, Kim Wickens’ LEXINGTON: The Extraordinary Life and Turbulent Times of America’s Legendary Racehorse tells the dramatic full story of the incredible Thoroughbred Lexington, to whom readers were first introduced in Geraldine Brooks’ acclaimed novel, Horse.
During the 1850s, horse racing was America’s supreme spectator sport, attracting everyone from high-ranking political figures to anyone who could afford the one-dollar entry fee. The early days of American horse racing were grueling. Four-mile races, run two or three times in succession, were the norm, rewarding horses who brandished the ideal combination of stamina and speed. It was in this era of pioneering tests of strength that a colt named Lexington, named after the city in Kentucky where he was born, rose to fame.
Lexington shattered the world speed record for a four-mile race (while partially blind) showing a war-torn nation that the extraordinary was possible even in those perilous times. Once his groundbreaking achievements as a racehorse ended in 1855, his role as a sire began. Horses from his bloodline won more money than the offspring of any other Thoroughbred—an annual success that led Lexington to be named America’s leading sire an unprecedented sixteen times, with the result that twelve of Thoroughbred racing’s thirteen Triple Crown winners descended from Lexington. Yet with the Civil War raging, Lexington’s years at a Kentucky stud farm were far from idyllic. Confederate soldiers ran amok, looting freely and kidnapping horses from the top stables. They soon focused on the prized Lexington and his valuable progeny.
Wickens spent years meticulously researching the horse and his legacy—and with LEXINGTON, she presents an absorbing account that transports readers back to the raucous beginning of American horse racing and introduces them to the stallion at its heart.