4089 Iron Works Pkwy.
Lexington, KY 40511
The Kentucky Horse Park is Kentucky’s largest state-owned tourist attraction. Opened in 1978 and set on more than 1,200 acres in the heart of Kentucky’s famous Bluegrass Region, the park is a working horse farm and educational theme park dedicated to sharing the Commonwealth’s love of horses with the world.
Featuring dozens of different breeds of horse at work and at play, the park showcases the horse in daily equine presentations, including the Breeds Barn and Hall of Champions shows, horse drawn tours and carriage rides, horseback riding and pony rides, a movie presentation and an exciting array of horse shows and special events, and horse farm tours to area farms.
The park shows live presentations daily throughout the summer. The famous Horses of the World Show captures the sound and excitement of the show ring in presenting unique breeds of horses with authentically costumed riders. The excitement of the racetrack and show ring are brought to life by the elite group of horses in the Hall of Champions, which features retired champions from Thoroughbred, Standardbred and Quarter Horse Racing.
Visitors also have the opportunity to learn about horse history in the largest of the world’s horse museums. The International Museum of the Horse, an affiliate of the renowned Smithsonian Institution, is dedicated to all breeds of horses and covers more than 50 million years of equine history. The American Saddlebred Museum, the Showplace for Saddlebreds, offers a panorama education of Kentucky’s first native breed of horse.
History of Kentucky Horse Park
There have been horses on this ground for more than 200 years...
In 1777, Patrick Henry, then Governor of Virginia, granted 9,000 acres of land in the Kentucky Territory to his brother-in-law, William Christian, as a reward for his service in the French and Indian War. A wealthy Virginian, Colonel Christian moved his family to Kentucky in 1785 and established a farm on Beargrass Creek near Louisville. Christian was killed by Indians in 1786, and his daughter, Elizabeth Dickerson, inherited the Elkhorn Creek tract, 3,000 acres of land now in both Scott and Fayette Counties. Part of this land became the Kentucky Horse Park.
Elizabeth eventually sold the largest section of her land to her brother-in-law, Dr. Walter Warfield. He in turn sold it to one of his colleagues, Dr. William H. Richardson in 1826. Richardson named his new land Caneland, after the abundance of cane he found growing wild by the big spring. Caneland became known for its beautiful English gardens, and was the first farm in Kentucky to establish a greenhouse. Richardson was also the first owner to raise Thoroughbred horses on this section of land. In the 1840s, the Richardson family was hit hard by the cholera epidemic that struck Lexington, and eventually the Richardson family was no more.
By 1850, the farm had been sold to Eliphalet Muir. Eliphalet was married to Anne Boone, a niece of Daniel Boone. Together, they further developed the farm, and specialized in raising Saddlebreds. After Muir’s death, the farm was sold to S. J. Salyers in order to divide the inheritance between the Muir’s many children. Salyers began to once again breed Thoroughbreds on the property. He was also responsible for building the residence now used for offices at the Kentucky Horse Park. The house, which was completed in 1866, was built on the foundation of an even older home which was burned prior to the Civil War (probably the Richardson mansion). But by 1890, the farm had once again been sold, this time to John D. Creighton. Creighton renamed the land Ashland-Wilkes Farm, and began to raise and train trotting horses. He built a training track in 1897 that is still used today at the Kentucky Horse Park. Unfortunately, Creighton was forced to sell his farm shortly after that in order to pay his many creditors.
For a short time after Creighton was forced to sell, the farm was owned by two Lexington bankers. They leased the land to Colonel Milton Young, owner of McGrathiana Farm (now Spindletop and Coldstream Farms). Young sent several of his Standardbred yearlings raised on the property to a New York auction, where an agent for Captain Sam S. Brown saw them. Captain Brown liked their looks so much that he purchased their home in order to raise horses of a similar caliber.
A wealthy coal baron, Brown rebuilt the farm and named it Senorita Stud Farm, after one of his favorite mares. He also played a pivotal role in supporting the Kentucky Association Racetrack in Lexington and eventually in developing the new Keeneland Racetrack. Brown also built water towers around the farm to pump fresh water to his horses from a spring that never ran dry.
Brown stabled good stock at Senorita, with a Kentucky Derby Winner, Buchanan in 1884. Brown’s health soon began to fail, and he died shortly thereafter. The farm was then offered at public auction, and Lamon V. Harkness was the buyer. Harkness named the farm Walnut Hall and developed it into one of the largest and best-known Standardbred farms. He built the farm from 450 acres and 12 mares in 1894 to 2,000 acres and 100 mares in 1904. The Big Barn, which is still standing at the park, was built by Harkness in 1897. The Big Barn is 476 feet long, has 52 stalls and a sale area, complete with auctioneer’s block. It was one of the largest horse barns ever built, and construction costs ran to $15,000. This land passed from him to his daughter, Lela Harkness Edwards, who in turn left it jointly to her daughter, Kate Edwards Nichols, and her daughter-in-law, Mary Edwards. In 1947, they split the farm, with Mary Edwards receiving the section which eventually became the Kentucky Horse Park.
In 1972, Mary Edwards (then Mrs. Sherman Jenney) sold her property to the Commonwealth of Kentucky for $2.7 million, and in 1978, the Kentucky Horse Park, the world’s only park dedicated to man’s relationship with the horse, opened to the public.
Copyright © 2016 The Kentucky Horse Park 4089 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, Kentucky 40511
Beginning with the 1979 arrival of Forego, one of the leading handicap horses of the 1970s, the Kentucky Horse Park has been home to some of the world's greatest competition horses, including John Henry, Horse of the Decade for the 1980s and the top money-winning Thoroughbred gelding in racing history. With the exception of a few months in 1986, John Henry lived at the park from 1985 until his death in 2007, alongside other racing greats such as Forego and his fellow 1970s champion Bold Forbes, and more recent residents Cigar, voted Horse of the Decade for the 1990s, and Da Hoss, the first horse to win Breeders' Cup races in non-consecutive years. In late 2008, the champions Alysheba and Funny Cide became residents, but Alysheba died at the park in March 2009. 1994 Kentucky Derby winner, Go For Gin, became a resident of the barn in 2011, while Cigar died at the park in 2014.
The Kentucky Horse Park’s preeminent collection of competition facilities allows the park to host some of the world’s most prestigious equine sporting events. Home to the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, where Olympic hopefuls compete, the park hosts close to 200 horse shows and special events annually.
Rolex Stadium is the primary outdoor event venue in the complex. The stadium seats 7,338 in its main grandstand but can accommodate up to 37,338 total capacity when bleachers seating up to 30,000 are used, primarily for larger outdoor horse shows, concerts, and other sporting events. Its show ring measures 306 feet by 406 feet, with the flooring made of sand and fiber; however, artificial turf has been brought into the stadium for soccer and football games on occasion, among other events. It is the largest outdoor concert venue in Central Kentucky with a capacity of up to nearly 52,000.
Alltech Arena is Kentucky Horse Park's 5,520-seat indoor arena, expandable to 8,500 for concerts. The arena floor and championship ring measures 135 feet by 300 feet; in addition in indoor horse shows, Alltech Arena can also be used for indoor football, ice hockey, basketball, circuses, boxing, wrestling, concerts, and other special events. The arena contains nine luxury suites, 222 VIP box seats and a 4,000-square-foot club lounge seating up to 80 patrons. The arena floor is below street level; the arena concourse, with 50,000 square feet of space, overlooks the arena floor.
2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games
On December 6, 2005, it was announced that Lexington and the Kentucky Horse Park would host the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games in September and October. The 2010 games marked the first time the games were held outside of Europe; additionally, the eight Olympic-level world championships had never been held together in a single location within Europe.
Man O' War
A number of horse sculptures stand in the Kentucky Horse Park, including a Man o' War statue on a pedestal near the entrance, over the horse's grave, which was moved here from Faraway Farm during the establishment of the park in the 1970s. There is also a life-size statue of the 1973 U.S. Triple Crown winner Secretariat with jockey Ron Turcotte aboard being led by groom Eddie Sweat. From harness racing, there is a statue of Bret Hanover.
The Kentucky Horse Park also contains the National Horse Center, headquarters for more than 30 national, regional and state equine organizations and associations.
For a constantly up-to-date list of all park events, see the Kentucky Horse Park website at www.kyhorsepark.com.
Other popular activities include trail rides throughout the park’s beautiful countryside and pony rides for youngsters
The Kentucky Horse Park also sports one of America’s finest resort campgrounds, set amidst the rolling hills of the Bluegrass, with 260 paved sites, store, swimming pool and many other amenities.
The park is open daily from March 15 through October 31 and Wednesday through Sunday from November 1 to March 14.
There's Only One....Kentucky Horse Park.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- "International Museum of the Horse". Retrieved July 17, 2013.
- Jordan, Jim. "$38 million urged for Horse Park." Herald-Leader [Lexington] 2 Feb. 2007. 2 Feb. 2007