The story of the legendary thoroughbred sire, Lexington, is rather interesting.
Lexington was a champion racehorse, living from 1850 to 1875 and becoming a most successful sire during his lifetime and after his death. For 16 years, Lexington was a leading sire from 1861 to 1874 and again in 1876 and 1878.
The stallion was officially retired from racing in 1855 after it was learned that his eyesight was failing. In fact, Lexington had inherited poor eyesight from his sire, Boston, who had gone blind.
Originally, Lexington was the sire at the Nantura Stock Farm, located in Midway, Kentucky. In 1858 Lexington was sold to Robert A. Alexander for the then-unheard of sum of $15,000. He stood at the Woodburn Stud in Spring Station, Kentucky.
When the Civil War broke out, all available horses were forcibly drafted into war duty. Most of them never made it back alive. By now Lexington was 15 years old and had gone completely blind. He was put into hiding to prohibit his entry into the war and certain death.
In 1955 Lexington was among the first horses inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
Lexington became known as "The Blind Hero of Woodburn," because of his invaluable presence there. He died at Woodburn Farm on July 1, 1875. A coffin was built for Lexington and he was interred in front of the barn that stabled his many mares.
Befitting the horse’s popularity, his owner A.J. Alexander with the help of Dr. J.M. Toner donated Lexington’s bones to the US National Museum in 1878. Professor N.A. Ward personally supervised the disinterment and then set about to prepare the skeleton for exhibit.
Lexington’s articulated skeleton was displayed in the On Time Exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
There was a time when the famous horse was forgotten and relegated to a fourth floor attic of the museum, becoming simply Catalog No. 16020.
Despite taking a humble spot in an attic space, it took two decades of negotiation to relocate Lexington again.
He has come home – he permanently resides at the Kentucky Horse Park, courtesy of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.
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