The dramatic true story of the champion Thoroughbred racehorse who gained international fame in the tumultuous Civil War–era South, and became the most successful sire in American racing history
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. The stallion Lexington, named after the city in Kentucky where he was born, possessed these winning qualities, which pioneering Americans prized.
Lexington shattered the world speed record for a four-mile race, showing a war-torn nation that the extraordinary was possible even in those perilous times. He would continue his winning career until deteriorating eyesight forced his retirement in 1855. But once his groundbreaking achievements as a racehorse ended, 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.
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.
Kim Wickens, a lawyer and dressage rider, became fascinated by this legendary horse when she learned that twelve of Thoroughbred racing's thirteen Triple Crown winners descended from Lexington. Wickens spent years meticulously researching the horse and his legacy—and with Lexington, she presents an absorbing, exciting account that transports readers back to the raucous beginning of American horse racing and introduces them to the stallion at its heart.
About the Author
Kim Wickens grew up in Dallas, Texas, and practiced as a criminal defense lawyer in New Mexico for twenty years. She subsequently turned her attention to writing, which she studied at Kenyon College, and has devoted the last several years to researching this book. She lives with her husband and son in Lexington, Kentucky, where she trains in dressage with her three horses.
“Researched with breathtaking thoroughness and written with imagination and verve, Kim Wickens’s Lexington unearths a vivid portrait of America’s greatest stallion, the larger-than-life men who raced and bred him, and the dramatic times in which they lived. . . . A fascinating account from start to finish.”—Geraldine Brooks, New York Times bestselling author of Horse
“In this meticulously researched and skillfully drawn telling, Kim Wickens brings to vivid life the ‘forgotten horse’: Lexington. It defies belief that no book has ever been written on this near-blind, at times cantankerous bay Thoroughbred who left such an indelible mark on nineteenth-century horse racing. For his extraordinary stamina and speed in the era of four-mile heats and for the dizzying success of his progeny, Lexington was called ‘King of the Turf.’ Indeed. Long live the king.”—Lawrence Scanlan, author of The Horse God Built
“A totally engrossing story of one of the greatest horses that ever lived . . . I loved it.”—Nacho Figueras, champion polo player and author of High Season